Mosaics

I am haunted. She rattles around in the bones of this old home.

My face is a mosaic. The pieces of me that belong to her show themselves now. Grouted, my features separate in the glass. I understand Picasso now, his disjointed women with their eyes all cattywampus.

This weightlessness I feel, a net drifting on the currents of the sea, robs me of my equilibrium. I move at a speed different from all those around me, and in the rhythm of the day I disappear.

I materialize only for espresso.

Random Tuesday afternoon, some time in May, I stare at my work. It ignores the mental nudging, the wishful thinking to simply do my will. When I cry at my desk, it is in fits of frustration. All else remains bitter disappointment.

I take no comfort in the rote memorizations of work or in the sublime minutia of tasks. While others might lose themselves in the machinery of to-do’s, I have no mind for it, no coordination from my brain to my hands. Weightless, I ride the conveyer belt, waiting for Laverne (or is it Shirley?) to crown me with a glove as I pass by. When we lose our anchors, when we lose our gravitational pull, do we lose our meaning?

My energy is artificial, and I feel the artifice that is in everything. But I am incapable of creating a mannequin joy. Once, I laughed at everything, in joy and in fear. I do not do so now. But I am fine when asked. Things are only as they can be.

I gathered the waters of the Gesthamene
to wash your feet
I was your Magdelene
And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you

I followed you to the desert
I brushed away the pebbles with my hair
to move the stones away from your small feet
I was your Magdelene
And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you

When your mouth was dry
I put a wet cloth to your lips…
When you spent your thirtieth day in the wilderness
I was there…
And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you

When they rolled the stone over you,
when they said you were gone and there wasn’t anything that I could do,
Bare-souled I walked among your children and all the love you left behind
Like Magdelene I cried
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

I had rubbed her feet with Miracle Foot, my sister at one leg and I at the other. Skin that had stretched from being so swollen flaked and cracked. She was shedding her struggle. We had taken it as a sign of hope: the body, we thought, was repairing itself. We smelled of peppermint and prayer.

On random days in May, I am noticing broken things. The brick intersections need to be repaired. The sidewalks on Hawthorne Boulevard are uneven, tilted, cracked and taunting. The Portland Building’s turquoise tiles are a gaping maw of poor taste and poorer judgment. The pigeons and commuters stand in line. They wait their turn, and I pass by on the No. 14, another bottle on the belt, another day in my back pocket.

It will take me years to piece myself together. And I realize the pieces will not fit together, not quite as well before they were broken. There will be something missing, some sliver that escaped notice, some uneven side caused by the sheering. I will look different, sound different, think and be different. There is the picture of my face before I lost her. There is the reflection of my face in the mirror in her absence.

I can see the grout lines.

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