He’s been pulling her strings. Choreographing her life. While she’s been waiting for just this right moment to efficiently snip away his upper hand, with metaphorical scissors-blades sharp from random practice cuts numbering in the thousands. His role as puppet master falls to pieces. Crashes upon his stage in a bisected ruin of body parts and strands of cotton. She, on the other hand, free from wooden articulation, finds her voice, her dance. And as he tries in vain to tie loose ends into knots of control, he doesn’t even notice that his unwilling marionette has fled the building.
Sip by sip.
Descending ice cube stairs.
To the bottom of umbrella’d rum and coconut and pineapple.
And closer to home.
Closer to paradise.
When I remember them, those whose paths crossed mine, I remember their shoulders.
How sloping, sagging flesh and blood felt beneath my grip, as my arms held on as tightly as I could, like I was trying to keep the life underneath the bone and skin from falling apart.
Sometimes broad, deceptively sturdy.
Other times narrow, blades sharp under an inadequate armor.
Carrying the weight of the world, and failing.
And now-you’re out there.
Angry. Afraid. Misunderstood.
Needing someone to hold you together.
And I only wish I could.
I can only imagine what went through her mind when she found out. Or dare myself to wonder whether she was mercifully by herself, where her sorrow could consume her privately, or if, in the company of others, she simply had to assume a brave face and carry on as best she could.
And I’ll never know the exact color of his eyes. But as a woman so possessed myself, I am certain, that in her soul, when she remembered those eyes, how they swallowed her up, she would have followed him down into those drowning depths, in a heartbeat.
Once, I aspired to her cold-as-ice persona. Tactility restrained, in molded fever-denying fiberglass. The antithesis of my own unwanted touch-hungry skin. Desperately, undeniably longing for warm.
But then I realized, she’d never had the pleasure, either. Of touch. Or warmth.
So I assure her-heat is ok. Rub my hand down the length of her artificial arm.
And she comes to life.
Just like I did.
Her size 11 oxfords were never going to swap places with my size 8 peep toes. Then again, it didn’t really matter. She wasn’t one to wear high heels and I wasn’t one to wear sensible. And just as I knew that Cab Calloway and Lawrence Welk would never be singing duets, I was also fairly certain that my nights spent dancing at the Star Dust were never going to rub elbows with her mornings spent at Loraine’s house, drinking coffee and eating cake.
But we could agree on hyacinths.
Her garden was wild with them-their little beaded heads adding cheerful dots of purple, blooming a bridge between winter and spring.
How I miss my grandmother.
Two stormy nights, I sailed.
Casting my net into the water, catching words,
To soothe a sea-vast ache.
On the third, my wounded heart was mended-
Stitched with stars.
Bathed in moon balm.