from Twenty-Eight Posts to Abbott
A day for presidents though I feel like rooting for the visiting team, a candle lit in my secret garden. Should I sink a hand into America I come up with onions, not the lunch pail I buried as a child. Inside the lunch pail? Army men, the map of my dream home, a tumbler from Snow Cone Snoopy. One is a career, one is too many rooms, one's an accessory. Of all the things I've buried, the most recent is my marriage to love and country, a heavy cloud on the lip of the horizon. Eric, I've lied: I'd never root for the opposite side when my brother is booked on a Thursday flight to rejoin the crooked game in a distant desert. I'll light a candle, sure, and if I prayed I'd ask his family not made to cry. I'd pray for the engine, the blades, the stabilizing rudder. I'd say "protect" and "love" and even "country." But there's no church I dare attend. There's only a garden and I want only the pleasing flowers.
The smell of stems and petals rises through the stairwell from the first floor shop of the florist. There's lust in the air and reservations in the books of restaurants. Hearts on cards and candy on this Saturday before we honor the martyred Christian from the 3rd Centrury. But who will choo-choo-choose me with a picture of a train? Where am I in the third grade when I came to terms with the girl who first used "love"? And the connotations of "lover" in my 28th year, a year now behind me? There's time yet for flowers, the deflated buds between finger and thumb. There's time yet for an awkward silence in an office at night. One is Edward and one is surely Josephine. Put my hand on her calf, my ear to her waist. Let the others read the papers. I'm a memo that says the boss wants to see you, the transcript that records your need for an ambulance. I love Hopper because his scenes are rarely a promise of bliss. I love his wife because she endured his silence. And there goes the neighborhood, there's a parade for the martyred saints. Tick, tick, ticker-tape. Hooray!
Do I dare aim for the obvious? Do I mention spring break my senior year of high school and the first time San Francisco appeared to these eyes across the blue, blue water? Is it fair to send a postcard of a city I haven't strolled in 4-5 years? A city that once was a dream of beatnik glory? I remember dawn and strolling into a bar across from City Lights, 6 or 7 a.m. and the only place open. I drank, I smoked, I was too young to feel entirely comfortable with the handful of drunken strangers. (How far or near I've come since then I don't know.) I remember New Year's with two friends, a bottle of cheap champagne, extraordinary architecture. The three of us slept in a car that night, not to mention other nights and other cars, though I've also slept in the parks of San Francisco, thinking, "Jack London also slept in this park!" I've relied on oranges in San Francisco, my feet have swollen in San Francisco, once I hallucinated a full conversation in San Francisco. Of all the places I'd live next, if I won the lottery, I'd live in a) Venice, b) New York City, c) a small village in Italy called Vernazza, and d) San Francisco. I've heard that people still write poetry in San Francisco, I've heard that the wind still blows. It's been said that more people jump from the Golden Gate than from any other bridge in the world. That just proves what a great city San Francisco is! I mean, name me one great song written about Chicago or Santa Fe. But San Francisco? If I knew my chords I'd write a new song for Santa Fe and legions of fans would drop from the bridges of New Mexico. Sound good?
We're here again beneath the tables and chairs, some Parisian or German cobbles with shoots of grass growing between. A year ago I was twenty-eight. I thought I'd stay forever in New England. A year older, more bold, I've stayed away from my former states and lovers. "How does one live a fuller life?" I ask, then ask again. We're here again between morning and night, the argument, the embrace. Last night I dreamed my mother, my father, my brother and I suspended in the air after our car ran a stop sign, three-way and no more road to catch the wheels. I dreamed of me, ________ and her mother in an adjacent yard where they took turns looking up from their gardening. I dreamed of swimming and a rope that reeled to bring a sea beast to shore. We're here again in the unfamiliar hours, turns we've never taken and might reveal a house in which we've wanted to live all along. Can you see the garlands near the door? Can you see we'll still ask for more?