The sun shining from its perch high in the sky. I remember riding my bike through the alley. I slipped and fell and skinned my knees and hands.
Gogo and I snuck into the University Club on Grand Hill overlooking the city. We hold hands and go skinny-dipping in the pool. I find a diamond necklace left at the bottom near the drain – I give it to Gogo and tell her to keep it, to wear it, show it off like we have money for diamonds.
She says, But. What if I see the woman who owns this necklace? What if she sees me with it on? And what if she says it was me who stole it? What then?
I say, And? What then?
She laughs and put the diamonds around her neck. She still wears them, I think, but not on special occasions. With t-shirts and sneakers and jeans.
The small white house on the corner of Webster Street. The lady who lives there who looks like my grandmother. She waves at me from the porch with her wrinkled brown palm as I pass on my bike. Once, two-or-three years ago, she beckoned for me to come inside. She gave me cookies still warm from the oven.
My memories are made of brick and cement and glass. My dreams are bathed in waning sunlight of an autumn day. Long shadows creep over fences and pull at the sidewalk after 4. My dreams are apples picked from trees and flat piano notes from songs I never learned how to play.
The air is cool in the fall. We cook soup on the stove. Roast the apples we picked from the trees. Wear sweatshirts outside. If the hands of the creator were to lift the weight from my shoulders, I would fly over red-gold trees and see the city as it was meant to be seen.
We disappear into snow. Into a swirling white mist that puts icicles like diamonds on eyelashes. The drifts rise to our knees. The days are short and dark. The kitchen smells of cinnamon inside and my mom bakes bread in the oven. We smell that. We can’t smell anything outside.
Gogo and I. We lay in bed and dwell on words like freedom, beauty, queen, motel, lost, love, youth, kiss, happy, fire, long… long… nights from beneath blankets and sheets in the bedroom that once belonged to my sister.
The quilt on the bed. Patchwork. Colors.
The roar and cackle of the fire.
Frost on the window.
The water is cold – not warm yet like summer. I take my shirt off and hang it over the side of the fence. The girls nearby are splashing water and laughing, their long hair tied with ribbon, dreaming of Italy and France. The leaves are starting to grow on branches and bushes. The smell of growing things and soil. People coming outside for the first time to watch the snow melt from rooftops and turn into water, disappear down the drain with the rest of us.
The old woman, rocking on the porch, telling me, in her broken voice, warbled like a bird’s, When you die it’s not just your body that goes…
Telling me, As the days grow longer so do words like past and present and future.
We are all born anew when the snow melts and we step outside into the warmth of the sun again.
Gogo holds my hand. We watch the lights at the end of the road. The road lit with headlights from cars that roll by slowly-but-surely, their tires spin like records, like disco balls downtown, like ceiling fans, like a pirouette of a young ballerina who will never stumble or fall.