Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Death in the village.

The church bells began around one. As you know, the church bells here have four electronic settings: birth, wedding, baptism, and death. The death bells are slow and intermittent without a real melody to them. They're creepy. You feel that death is in fact upon you when you hear them. Needless to say, they successfully get their point across.
I'm sitting in my grandfather's house. The second floor is known as our part of the house. Aside from the room where my bedridden grandmother and her caregiver sleep, it's the place where we, the relatives from America, stay when we visit. It's where you and I stayed.
God I loved your impersonation of my bedridden grandmother. My mom says she's about ninety-six now. She's still bedridden obviously, but she's definitely gotten more skeletal since the last time I saw her, which was with you three summers ago.
My mother and cousin stand on the balcony while I sit in the big, cushiony, floral chair that faces the same view — a giant mountain and the church directly across the street—now bustling with activity. My mother is pointing out people she hasn't seen in close to forty years as well as making fun of any outdated haircuts she spots. My cousin smokes a cigarette and talks about how much money the mortuary is going to make today. I'm writing, and feeling miserable.
My cousin says, "funerals are red carpet events around here. See and be seen." I get up, join him on the balcony, and look out onto the scene. He's right. It seems like the whole village has descended upon the church. I recognize many faces, a lot of them being distant relatives I hardly know yet have managed to witness age on an annual basis every summer since I was a child. The guest of honor is a being loaded into the church. It is the corpse of the ninety year old woman who until yesterday lived in the house directly behind ours. It takes a few men to get her open air casket through the door. I sit back down again. Moments later, the service begins. I know this because the speakers in the trees have been turned on so that those who chose to decline on this open invitation may hear the cantor from the luxury of their couches. My mother gets up. "I'm going to go light a candle." She's interested to see what kind of commotion she'll stir. "If I go in there, I'm going to steal the crowd. Where have you been? they'll ask me." She giggles at the thought and exits. My cousin finishes his cigarette, rolls another and lights it.

If I were a betting lady I would have lost all the money and the clothes on my back if six months ago I’d wagered my holidays would be spent like this.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You wrote this.

Staggering and shaking onstage
The old man
Lost in a world that moves
Too quickly for him
Before an audience
Largely made up of real old men
But there is no offense
As it is play
All in good fun
And there is laughter

What a contradiction
The youngest
Playing the oldest
Doing his best
To have a good time
While working so hard

And periodically glimpsing
Into the future
With the hope
Of one day
An old man

Still Playing
Working hard
That mischievous smile

I know
Who I am
Silly old man

November 13, 2006

Sarcasm as a coping mechanism.

I am sorry that I wasn't more attentive.
Why didn't I remind you everyday of your talents?
It's because I'm incredibly selfish, obviously.

I am sorry that university jobs, and earning your equity
were not good enough. I am sorry that in the span of eight
months you only played in a half dozen things. You should have
been more busy. Thirty, forty projects would have kept you happy.
I am sorry that a rent free apartment didn't stop you from
worrying. I'm sorry that no relief came from paying off
your credit card bills. I'm sorry that I never got to tell you about
my plans to help you with your loans. 

Would it have even mattered?

I got a refund for our airplane tickets. Who wanted to go 

to Greece anyway? It's no big deal that I wanted to swim 
in the Aegean where my father's ashes were scattered.

I'm sorry we had a bad year. I am sorry we fought so often.
Four years living together is clearly not enough time
to get on each other's nerves. It should be ten or twenty.
It should be never. I'm sorry that I threatened you with 

break-ups, separations, and time apart.
I'm sorry that I ever said it might do us some good.
I'm sorry for being distant sometimes, and that I
didn't prove my love for you with crazy stunts. I'm sorry
I didn't risk everything for you.

I’m sorry that my happiness was not contingent on yours.
I'm sorry that your happiness was contingent on mine.

If I had known, I would have stapled my smile in place.

When I was watching my dad get his diaper changed,
I should have been home with you.
When I was in school getting a stupid MFA-
because you had one, and I wanted one too,
I should have been home with you. When I spent long nights 

at the hospital, I should have been home with you-
massaging your feet, and not his. When I spent long nights 
on campus, trying to prove that I too deserved a terminal degree, 
I should have been home, spending time in your arms instead.

I'm sorry that when you met my dad he told you to take it easy 

and nothing more. I'm sorry I didn't express how important it 
was to me that you met him, as you were the only one who ever had.

When we had friends over, and I just wanted us to get along,
I should not have cared that you wore a frown in front of company.
I should have bruised myself every time I got sad, to remind myself
it                        could                        be                        worse. 

A lot worse. 
I should have been content with everything
all of it.
I'm sorry.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Totally Lousy Day

How I do express this feeling in my body? This absence in my chest cavity? The uneasiness of being apart from you is exhausting. Every minute without you makes me tired and restless. My limbs move through dead space. There is no comfort to be found in anything. I have melancholy coursing through my veins. It's running through my system, affecting everything. I've taken at least a hundred photos of myself trying to capture its effects on the human body. I wonder if I look as bad as I feel. I say yes. My one eye is fixed open in a state of shock.
Oh, my eyes.
They've cried a lifetime it seems. I was told once that I had a problem with these eyes of mine. It was by an instructor. He said I had dead eyes. I remember thinking, "Oh, great. Dead eyes. Me." I must have told you about this when I was in school, as it was back then when it happened. I'm sure we talked about it then. (How do you tell me you remember? Knock three times, have the wind say something, it's moving so fast it's already whistling, do something, anything, please?) Well, this comment affected me back then. I wrote in my class notes about it. I remember working on brighter eyes. Then I forgot about it. We worked. We discovered together. I forgot many things. Learned many new things. I was too happy to worry about my eyes, and in fact my eyes were quite fine. No one made a complaint against them, that's for damn sure.Now, it's all about my eyes. It's been all about my eyes for six months. Six months. Six god-awful months. "What's wrong with your left eye? Hey, your right eye looks swollen. You should get that checked out. Maybe you should get a second opinion. I know the doctor said crying everyday for a hundred days straight would probably make your eyes act funny, but who knows maybe it's a tumor. You know, because you might have a tumor now too, or something."
My left eye is bigger than my right. It sort of bulges out more, producing this fixed eye. I think it's still in shock, or at least that's what it looks like to me. It bothers me. It doesn't physically bother me. I don't feel a tumor the size of grapefruit resting upon my optic nerve. What bothers me is the extra attention it attracts. It reminds me everyday how much your death has affected me. My face looks weird. Off balance. Crooked. I take turns covering each side, and looking in a mirror. First the left, then the right. I feel like a comic book villain. The lady with the two faces. "There go my looks," I here my inner hag tell me. "You took the best of me," another voice says. "You died in vain, " a third. "Why did you leave me?", a forth. "I'm sorry. Come back. I miss you," fifth, sixth, seventh.