Something happened, I do not know why I feel like a crumpled leaf, or maybe a misplaced shoe? Remember when you found me in that little place on the landing, where the banister curved into the higher stairs, and a piece of the floor extended out? Remember how I told you that I wanted to jump off, float really, down to the first floor? You tried to give me pillows: you said it would hurt. But you watched me, as I dreamed of the freedom of sleep.
Today, Agniesz, the phone rang. I might have driven into Boston, swerving on Storrow Drive, speeding to my doctor. He would have said "Emily, my sibling is dead." I heard his voice through the phone, though, and I wondered at the type of journey, and many things I am not permitted to know. Now I am not sure with whom to speak about the death of this person, a sister or a brother to someone I love. It is all headache and complication, like a crossword puzzle that gets bigger each time my pen goes down. My glasses are missing, too.
Do you think that when Max died he became a person? People laughed or blank-stared, as if I should not have loved him, should not have slid my fingers through his long gray fur. You never did, though. And what of the people, Sylvia and Zayde, Papa in the southern-hot hospital bed? Was there some change that made it okay or was I still the weird girl? They left too quickly, and I missed the chance to join them for the journey, to soften the bump. I witnessed nothing but their absences.
We are weird together, though, you and I. I will try to explain, love, but only to you: the doctor took care of me and called to me through the tunnel when I could not find the hole or the ground or the gravity to make me upright and seeing. You remember: I was mute then, you had to visit the house in the evenings and you gave me the silk leaf scarf . I love the man, I suppose, like a girl loves a father, only the yearning does not stop. Is the longing to be near him when he, himself, is certainly sick, is that another part of my odd character, my "cognitive holes?" I remember when you first used those words, when I did not know the difference between Asia and Africa. You joked at me, but then you realized that while I had been away I had missed important information.
What is the purpose of my high voltage? Truly, can you tell me? Why must I care desperately, as if I might slip off myself, as if a mess of rain and snow should cover us all? Why did I sob that night in the closet? Why did you keep writing me, even when I had stopped answering?
Once I asked the doctor if I could go to his funeral when he dies, and he said yes. I asked him if he would come to my funeral when I die. He said yes. I can hear you laughing at me already, but I will tell you anyway: each time I leave him, I say "do not die on the plane," and he says "okay, I won't" from his chair. Then he says "be good."
What are you doing as you read this? Shuffling through your trays of dark chocolates, lying in the big white tub? (Am I your Urgent Emily, creating a drama where none exists?) I love you, my sweet, long-haired Agnieszka. Please, we'll sneak a cigarette together, we'll whisper alone, next to the kitchen candles. First, now, can you answer my questions about the doctor? Do you see me spidering out a maze, one I cannot follow? Am I actually having these thoughts, or is it another dream, another visiting hour? For whom do I mourn?
Your musk and curls girl,
Your speeding and sliding companion,
Kisses and hugs, Emily
Copyright © Emily Alston-Follansbee
...a poem in this room by Michael Zweigbaum...
the story of eleven naval men
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Created 1998/8/23. Updated last on 2000/12/20.