The sun shines down on us from its perch high in the sky. There are no clouds. I remember riding my bike through the alley when I was a child, when I slipped and fell and skinned my knees and hands.
Gogo and I sneak into the University Club overlooking the city’s downtown. We hold hands and swim naked 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 as though we have our own money for gemstones and jewels.
But, she says. What if the woman who owns the necklace sees me? 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?
Gogo laughs and puts the diamonds around her neck. She’ll wear them all day. But not on special occasions – with t-shirts and sneakers and jeans, because, she says, it’s all about balance.
There is no need for money in warm weather like this – the less we have the better when we sweat and the humidity and the heat keep our bodies warm. In winter we need more – we need coats and hats and scarves – when the snow falls and ice cracks around the windows and it is the icicles hanging from the rooftop are the only jewels we have access to.
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 the waning sunlight of an autumn day. Long shadows creep over fences and pull at the sidewalk as the sun begins to set. 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 apples we picked from the trees outside of the city. We wear sweatshirts outside. If the hands of the creator were to lift this weight from my shoulders, I would fly over red-gold trees and see the city as it was meant to be seen.
But there is no creator – we know this now – we make our own rules, our own beginning, end and there is no time or space or place anymore between us. We are here together and this is what will save us from the coming cold.
A Change in the Seasons
We disappear into snow. Into a swirling white mist that puts icicles like diamonds on out eyelashes. The drifts rise to our knees. The days are short and dark now and we read by artificial light. The small kitchen inside the apartment smells of cinnamon and my mother bakes bread in the oven. We don’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 through 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 nearby. Frost on the window. Endless white outside. In winter we feel small – it is the largest of the seasons, taking away our humanity and forcing simple, animalistic survival to the forefront of our bodies and minds.
The water is still cold – not warm yet like it will be in the summer. I take my shirt off and hang it over the side of the fence. The girls nearby are splashing water and laughing in the pool, their long hair tied back with ribbons, dreaming of Italy and France and those faraway places. There is anxiety here, and peace abroad – this is what they think. But 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, tells me, in her broken voice, warbled like a bird’s, When you die it’s not just your body that goes…
She tells me: so do words like past and present and future. As the days grow longer.
We are all born anew when the snow melts and we step outside into the warmth of the sun again. Gogo holds my hand. The sun sets softly and 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 spinning like records, like disco balls, like ceiling fans, like the pirouette of a young ballerina who will never stumble or fall.
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