Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I found it nearly impossible to write this because every time I started the area bounded by ribs, clavicles, spine, and shoulder blades would fill up with floury dough set to rise in a back pantry in the sun.

When my kid brother had a heart attack at 40, my father's hand reached out across 30 years, and squeezed my own heart inside the pickets of my ribs.

Spring, with its dust and wind, its rubbish and birds and reddening branches, makes restlessness rise up that only walking for hours will ease.

Trying to remember when I first knew that my father was vulnerable because of a heart attack at 38, I came across a dried up sweetpea blossom between the pages of a notebook mostly empty.

Walking in the neighborhood when it starts to get warm, around Easter, I pick violets and slip them down my front. By the time I arrive home, I'm sweaty and the scent inside my shirt makes my mouth water.

The day I heard of my father's death my chest and stomach filled up with grief and I couldn't eat or weep for three days.

Hearing a train whistle in the distance is for me like somebody blowing a saxophone in all four chambers of my heart.

My grandmother found great joy in a sunny day with good wind spent hanging out laundry, a roll of peppermint lifesavers, a long visit with our family of six kids where there was always chaos, squabbling, and heartache. I didn't know until long after her death that she spent the last 15 years of her life going from relative to relative, living in motels in between.

The damp stone smell inside churches makes me both anxious and thirsty, reminding me of the Saturday nights my father took us to St. Vincent's for Confession, and afterward a lecture in the car.

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings playing in the room while a man weeps bent over the casket of his 42 year old son, stroking him, soaking his light gray suit, his folded hands.