maps to the moon

and i opened the door, flurried-faced and rushing and i heard that old familiar weep coming from my mother. the one i had learned to put away. i curled around the corner in slow motion, lurching every little wooden floorboard. you had notepad on your lap, and words scribbled on it that rubbed against my eyes, that sandpapered against my ears. harsh words, new words, vocabulary that hasn’t been revisited in a long time. stage 4, inoperable, chemotherapy. resolute words. words that tell a story within themselves. you said i can’t believe both my parents are going to die from cancer. i felt the air leave the room, the shock tingle up my spine, the resoluteness come to sit on my shoulder. all of the sudden. all of the sudden.

i think about time. about the unsteady, guilty, lack of clarity to how the timeline will fall out. how you’ll feel guilty for not doing more, for not being there. i think about sickness, i think about all the people with irresolute time. all the people waiting. i think about ryan. i think about fairness, and what a silly frame we put on our time. what we think we deserve. i think about what a fucking awesome life my grandfather has had. how he has been bold and strong and inspiring and smart and witty every single day that i known him.

 

but the night before – we were vibrant song-children. we were shooting off fireworks in the yard, getting told to keep it down by the police, rolling drum sets out of the backs of vans. we were cobble-headed moonbeams, we were violet-light singers. we all stayed up so late laughing we watched the full moon rise over the tops of the highest trees. we were 2am grilling and feasting on smoked meats. i kept checking the stars, i kept watching the moon rise, i kept filling my eyes with the sounds bouncing around me. i kept watching the moonrise.

and even now – the fireflies are dancing upwards in the grass as if they know everything. as if they know that we know nothing. that time is a dream. that dreams are alive. that magic is a whisper right in front of your eyes. that the seasons will keep birthing. that the fields of wheat will still roll in the wind, will still bend in the storm, will still grow in the morning. and even now – the fireflies are glaring their mystery show for tiny peaks and upturned valleys – little fire dance whether we are watching or not. whether we are watching or not.

 

i think about you and i hope for no pain, for wide breaths, for a few more sunsets. i hope you can watch a few more fireflies rise in the twilight. i hope for a few more pies, some decadent naps, some blissful dreams, some fresh july blueberries. i hope you get a few more summer storms, a few more races down the highway. i hope everyone tells you they love you. and i hope you feel no pain. i hope you know how strong you are, how loved you are, how inspiring your life has been. you wrote the maps to the moon, grandpa, and no one can take that away from you. i hope you get a few more moon rises, that it shines glassy-eyed and full, and that it gives you enough light to see in the dark.

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and words come to rest on my shoulders. and fireflies come to dance in the darkness. and spine comes to keep me upright.

Instead of having dinner with my father, I went swimming. Capsized my ribcage into a small boat and let my insides float through the water. I kept hoping something resembling calm would begin to reside in them once more. I kept trying to breathe, hoping the world would breathe back a little softer/a little sweeter. My body felt lighter in the water – just a piece of a current. Just a currently floating egg in a world doused in gravity. I kept swimming; the light kept dying. I felt summer curl its hands around my throat like a promise. I felt summer come swarming in like a fire. I kept swimming; the light kept dying. The sunset hurled its hands towards the stars – the fireflies shook out their dancing legs and wandered me alive.

You brought up brother Richard, I saw you choke a little on your intake of breath. I feigned disinterest/I said I hadn’t heard from him – it was true. The look in your eyes said the same. I wish I knew how to help you brother, I wish I knew where you were. I wish I knew how to bleed out our family blood. I wish I knew how to feel whole again. I wish a family was a pair of strong hands on your back.

I think about the swell of the summer singing towards me. I think about endings. I think about beginnings. I think about the reason I broke up with you. I think about honoring that reason. Holding it to the light and being loyal to it. I think about loyalty. I think about finality, the fierceness of the heart, the windchime of the rain. I think about running back to the forest, folding myself up in the trees, covering myself back up in bark. I think about writing, getting myself back into the flow. I think about all the things I need to write. I think about honesty. And fear. And how to fight bravely for fearlessness. How to walk towards honesty. How to be brave.

and words come to rest on my shoulders. and fireflies come to dance in the darkness. and heart comes to keep me fearless.