Monday, June 28, 2010

The Yellow Suitcase

It is a simple wedding.
Not elaborate.
They wear black and white.
Black and white.

No, this is wrong.

White and black.
The bride comes first.

Always the bride first.
Everyone agrees.
Everyone -
Florist. Caterers. Musicians.
Even the printers.
Even the priest.
The guests bring gifts.
Tied with ribbons,
swaddled in tissue,
dressed in foil paper,
kissed with glitter cards.

She carries a glass bouquet.
Imagine. Breakable blooms.
Blooms carried like
sky hooks to love.

It is a happy occasion.
But there are tears.
Wept and unwept.
The tears are here.

She knows nothing. Less than nothing. This is what she knows. This is why she holds her tears. She has agreed to what she does not know, to what she believes will be easy.

Something black.
Something white.

Knowing she knows nothing happens later. This is now. Now she does not cry. She leaves her weeping behind.
Behind is where it remains.

A ring is slipped on her finger. A circle of gold. And then on his. His hand is also captured with gold.

Pictures are taken.
Pictures help with remembering.

Nothing is needed to help them forget.
Forgetting is easier than remembering.

Between them is a suitcase.


The suitcase is as close to yellow as any other color.
For a surprise, the sisters wrap it with ribbons.
The brothers scratch blessings in its yellow side.
The lovers latch arms. This is why they think they are strong, why they believe they have power. There is strength in their arms.
They embrace everything. Lift much. Carry more.

The way is surprisingly rough.

She doesn’t mention the presence of hills
Ignores the ruts, sees only small declivities,
no ditches, no peaks, certainly no cliffs.

The road narrows, erupts with trees.
An unexpected wind sweeps down.

Avoiding the wind, she runs. Years of running begin. To slow her
down, wild animals appears. Wild animals distract her.
She dare not stay. Dare not linger.
Wild animals can never be tamed. .

Birds. Far off, now closer. Finally, alarmingly near, in her face, her hair, frisking her shoulders.

Infantry of feathers.
Battalion of beaks.

She is not at peace with flapping, not at peace with pecking.

Take your feathers.
Take your beaks.

Birds are not easily discouraged, especially wild ones. The birds remain. Before, she considered birds to be creatures of music, creatures of song. These birds do not sing.
Music is not in these birds.
Birds are the cause of their first fight. Not so much him, not so much her, but birds. Birds outside their influence. Birds they cannot cage or shoo away.
And so they cage themselves. Shoo themselves away. Dig elaborate tunnels.

They borrow almost everything - shovels, picks, back hoes as well as dirt.

He digs. She carts away, gets rid of the evidence.

Tunnels collapse suddenly.
Suddenly a tunnel can flatten to a grave.
Because of her worries, she is driven to warn..

“Look,” she says, waving the suit case like a torch.

He eyes the suitcase. Drops the pick. Returns the shovel. He remembers the sky, remembers desire.

Together they are a flower.
Open petals, visible stamens, scent of sea erupting.
Winter. Here in this unfriendly season, she feels a welcoming nudge. Small foot pushing. Small hand grasping. Instantly, she is captured by this second heart.

And then storm. And then rain. And then the sky slumps red.

The baby is lost.
This is the word used for death.
Many things are lost. Babies are no exception.

Where is he? He is other than here.
When he returns he’s ready to move.
She feels his muscled arms. He is strong.
She believes in his strength,
believes in his protection.

Time passes. First one. Then another: Daughters. The first daughter knows what not to say. And the second daughter, she learns also. Turning the house to smiles, the children protect the lost language of their parents.

Even still, she finds herself alone on a very steep mountain.
A mountain of shame. The nature of shame is
inadmissable. No one wants to admit a thing like shame.

There should be warnings, a large sign with an enormous black X. She is weary, panting, mopping her brow. It is almost Christmas and she is covered in sweat. And the suitcase has
become a millstone of lead.

Against all her dreams, against the black
against the white, she calls forth the
last dregs of strength, lets fly
the suitcase and wails.

By the time the wail leaves her mouth, it has gathered such velocity, she knows it has been in route for years.

The whole of their lives scatters for decades.
Photos, furniture, jewelry, books.
She suddenly knows they had far too many books.

And now it is snowing. Not a Christmas card snow.

Leprous snow. Hungry snow, snow devouring the sun.

For lack of strength, she lies down, calls to him. He does not answer. He does not turn, does not come back. .
A voice calls her awake. God. There is no one else. God has been calling for quite some time. Suddenly, she knows.

She has been elsewhere. For a long time, in a place dangerously dead.
God has taken on the cloak of fire. Only God burns in a blizzard. She lifts one heavy foot, flings it forward, lifts the other and flings it desperately ahead.
Always before she was cold. Cold but not in the way of shivering, not in the way of blankets of ice. Cold in the way of numbness. Cold in the way of dead.
Even before she is thoroughly thawed, she considers the fuel on which the fire feeds. Astonishing. She is bewildered. Enchanted. Is the fire feeding on the fuel of the yellow suitcase?
This is the form her bewilderment takes, the form of a question. With the same words she can make a statement. Instead she asks a question. The answer is yes.
It is the yellow suitcase. Before the whole of it turns to butter, she sees the blessing she knows to be the brothers’. And there are ribbons. Against all odds a tangle of ribbon remains.

She sits perfectly still. It is risky to breathe. She holds her breath. Breathing might kill the fire. Even though she reasons the fire must be God and therefore, impossible to extinguish, she cannot help but hold her breath.

She knows where she is.
She is with God.
God is with her.
She is not alone.
God is now her only light, her only heat.

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