For five barren days there were no words, and then one morning, suddenly, they were there.
As his old record player held her gently, with Chopin and with the waning burn of his cigarette, she wore the fragile dress of grief. She sat at her kitchen table and spoke about Winter with the forked tree in the yard across the street. Then she began.
But she couldn’t skate back down the icy river of November. She couldn’t bear to see those failing wooden buildings that housed his little boy smiles (his head tilted toward hers, bent in collusion). Nor could she bear to let herself search the river banks for some small clue, a shiny coin or errant glove waiting to explain the reasons why. Why wasn’t the problem anymore, anyway.
Anyway, she really was quite bad at remembering, bad at faces and places. She couldn’t see pictures in her head at all. She had only this— one little magic drawn in with her first breath: the broken strains of phrases lived in her fingertips. Everyone had a little bit of magic; the words were hers.
So it was her fingertips that spoke of him and she let them speak. They said:
He was generous.
He was kind.
He was sad.
He was gentle.
He was lonely.
He was bright.
He had promise.
He had light.
He was aimless.
He was hopeful.
He was loved.
And when they were tired and seemed to have nothing more to say, she let them rest.
She looked out the window for a few minutes more. She wondered if first breaths and last breaths were the same, that magic in meant magic out. Where did the magic come from? Where did it go?
She thought about asking the forked tree about this. But it looked so tired.
So she sat in stillness instead and touched her fingertips to her eyes.
She waited patiently to see if more words would come.
Dedicated to my brother:
Christoper Thomas McIntyre