Publish the Word
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Angelus -- Chapter 8

 

 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Psalms 68:11

                                 Chapter 8 

At four in the afternoon she took the watercolor from her studio into the house and began to search their library for information about angels.  She was unsatisfied with the likeness.  It was so unremarkable and lacked any dynamics of light and color.  If only she could trap that ineffable quality with her paints.  How could she describe the cool menthol burning inside her? She felt an odd exhilaration which no words could convey.

Not exactly a mystical vision or apparition -- no, as she turned the painting in her hand to catch the light, she thought back to the silent glade.  How long had they conversed?  How utterly strange.  She had seen him disappear, not instantaneous, like "I Dream of Genie," poof! gone, but he seemed to de-materialized and went, where?  She re-played his words in her mind.  So matter-of- fact, as if she had paused to chat with a neighbor in the woods.

But there was nothing ordinary about her encounter.  How could she tell David?  Did you have a nice day, honey?  Yes, I had a pleasant visit with my guardian angel.  Oh, really?  And have you seen any unicorns in the garden lately?  She couldn't possibly tell him.  She felt that for whatever reason the angel appeared, it was private, for her alone, some revelation still burning inside.  She just needed to decipher what it all meant.

She took down a volume of their Encyclopaedia Britannica, from Aalto to Arithmetic, and began to skim the section on Angels.  "Throughout the history of culture, both ancient and modern, beliefs have existed in various spiritual beings, powers and principalities that mediate between the realm of the sacred or holy -- the transcendent realm -- and the profane realm of time and space."
 

She read about the Persians and Egyptians, Hindu devas, the ancient Hebrews, about Muhammed, who in 6th Century Arabia received the Islamic scriptures from the Angel Gabriel.  She read of the jinn, who could assume various shapes; the fallen angels, Lucifer; the cosmological world of Dioynsius the Areopagite whose theological specialty was angels, the celestial hierarchy.  A Syrian who classified angelic beings into nine heavenly choirs, Dionysius wrote, "For the aerial spirit is a true image and type of divine energy corresponding to the moving and generative forces of Nature, and a swift and irresistible advance, and the mystery, unknown and unseen by us." 

She always struggled to grasp such abstract ideas.  For her, understanding came from sinking her hands deep into the mud of things.

You have found favor with the Most High, he had said.  What did he mean?  She was not a religious person.  Spiritual, yes, she believed, at least she thought she did, in a God-created universe, in angels, evil spirits, the Exorcist and all that -- how else did one explain such atrocities as the Nazi exterminations?  But she didn't attend church.  They had married in a small Lutheran chapel in Kenosha, and two or three times in recent years she had visited a country church pastored by a friend.  But she had gone primarily to study the stained glass windows which were constructed by an elderly artisan from the Tyrol.

She found an interesting quote from Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine abbess, a mystic, poet, painter and composer, who seemed to her an intriguing woman to have known had she lived during the Crusades.  "At the point of death," Hildegard wrote, "the good and the bad angels are present, the witness of all the deeds which the person has completed in and with her body.  They await the end in order to bring the person with them after the dissolution."
 

That reminded her of a drawing in one of her art books.  She had collected several hundred  art books since college. They were useful for reference and to demonstrate techniques to her students.  In a coffee-table sized book entitled Christian Iconography she located a chapter devoted to angels.  Page after page from El Greco, Aretino, Van Eyck, De Vinci, Vecelli, Rembrandt, Delacroix -- finally, she found the one she was seeking, an engraving by Gustave Dore for Dante's Divine Comedy. The scene portrayed the struggle over a departing soul.  Writhing, demonic creatures tore at one leg, but several angels, armed as warriors, appeared to be lifting the soul heavenward, slashing their broadswords across the backs of their tormented foes.  It was a chilling depiction.

She set the book beside her on the sofa.  She was troubled that so many artists conceived  of angels as winged and cherubic, as apple-cheeked infants. They were feminized or at best androgynous.  Lovely portrayals, artistically rendered, and emblematic of the periods, of course, but none resembled the masculine and evidently, wingless angel who had spoken with her.  He seemed so human, and to pass him on the street, one would never know he was anything but terrestrial, a an athletic young man in his early 30s.  Could angels be shape-changers, like the jinn?  She dismissed the thought as ludicrous.

He seemed so self-possessed and genuine.   His voice had penetrated her mind and that was a weird feeling.  But such simple, direct words and nothing, she thought, had frightened her:  he didn't float or glow or breathe fire.  She had sensed his empathy and she didn't see why he couldn't be assigned to watch over her if that was what angels did.  She had avoided a serious auto accident -- no denying that.  And in her hospital room, his assurance had reverberated inside her long afterward.

She lived in a skeptical world that had enshrined material science -- but her eyes had seen and her ears had heard. 

Assurance -- he had used the word.  Assurance about what? Her illness?  Did he bring her  hope to reassure her? Thoughts of death and dying had plagued her sleep, even her waking thoughts, but she had become adept at submerging those kinds of fears.
 

The phone rang then, a shrieking jinn in the golden afternoon.  She almost didn't want to answer it, but she didn't want it to completely shatter her reverie.  She half expected to hear the angel's voice, but it was Julie.

She was phoning to make yet another plea for her mother to intercede about the Costa Rica trip.  Final deposits had to be in next week, she said, and could she please tell her father the school  could defer tuition to her fall statement, if only he would commit for plane fare and accommodations.  She had a friend who might sublet her apartment, she said.  He'll water my plants and feed my cat and get my mail.

You have a cat?

It's just a stray, Julie said.  My landlord doesn't know, but I feel responsible since I've started to feed him.  So, could you please, please, please?  I have to know ASAP.  He'll listen to you.  Please stress the educational value, so he doesn't think this is just a Club-Med vacation or anything like that.  It's really primitive living with the indigenous people in shacks and huts.

Indigenous?  A word she was not accustomed to hearing come from her daughter's mouth.  Ava did promise to bring up the trip.  Against my better judgement, she said.  We both know your  father and I doubt I can budge him.  She so wanted to say something about angels, but it would have been a non sequiter and Julie would have frowned at the ohter end and said something spacey and sarcastic.

Okay, thank you mom, call me as soon as you talk to him, you know I'm counting on you, thanks, goodbye, love you, and then the voice was gone, silence returning her to the room, the books, the drying watercolor just beginning to curl at its edges.

 

Daybook, June 9

Unable to sleep, the words of the angel still smoldering inside me, I walked out into the chilly night and watched the stars in their fiery trajectories.  I thought about how little I know of this world or others:

While the world sleeps tonight,

the moon, ablaze in the western sky,

the bay, rocking in its bed of sorrows,

vast geometry of stars, multitudinous

in the slipstream of God's nine heavens,

angels,  in their robes of light, rise over the cities of men,

rise beyond physics, quantum-matter, celestial mysterium

for aeons, perhaps.  Seraphim, rise on their six, radiant wings,

Cherubim, whirlwinds of blue flame, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities,

Virtues and Powers, all resplendent,  all ascending and descending

the invisible scaffold of  the universe. They sing Peace on Earth, 
            (if only it were so).

They sing Holy, Holy, Holy. They sing Glory to God in the Highest

with their tongues of fire. They appear and disappear,

like flashes of the infinite when we blink.

 

What have I done? she wondered.  And why me? 

Hours later as I read these words again, I despair of being able to express the elation I feel.  I am at the brink of this life and something else, I think, on the threshold of a door swinging open onto -- I don't know what.    Something incredible and terrifying and wonderful. 


She learned to exist without sleep the next several days.  Her thoughts scudded about in her mind like sparks, like she was exploring a new country, plugged in but to a different power source..  She felt electric, as if she were  the ground wire linking two worlds, almost like when she and David were first in love and too full of each other's scents and taste to sleep or eat, that same emotional voltage.  She felt giddy and expectant of what might happen next.

Her hair had nearly all come out, in fistfuls, then strand by strand on her clothes, their bedsheets, long, auburn threads on the furniture or the kitchen counter.  She avoided mirrors and glanced only furtively at her reflection as she went past.  The scarfs brought color to her face, but when she came out of the shower, she simply looked away from herself.  Now I know what haggard means, she thought, having been so unaware of how losing twenty pounds in three weeks, a pound a day, would hollow her cheeks and leave saggy folds at her chinline.  She had the wrinkled neck of a pullet.

David mercifully said nothing about her appearance.  She seemed to change daily, slouched posture and broader at the hips, her eyes bruised and tired.  The one time she had examined her scalp with its cross-hatch of freckles, age marks and follicle pores she felt both depressed and morbidly fascinated at the same time.  This, she thought, is what I really am.  Under the camouflage of over- conditioned, tinted, blow-dried, moussed and styled fibers she had taken for granted all her life was an old woman's skin, fifty-five years etched by nature -- the impostor now exposed.

She had tried philosophically to dismiss her anxiety:  would it grow back, what if someone saw her bald, how long would she be so afflicted?  Like a clay-sculpted bust, she had tried to convince herself.  She could be a Rodin, artful in its curvature, a classical skull, Romanesque.  But no.  Nothing more idealized a woman's femininity than her hair.


When Julie was pre-teen, her pixie cut was cute and perky, but a woman's hair, she had tried to explain to David on the way home from her first treatment, a woman's hair was sacred, inseparable from her identity.  And no amount of rationalization would make her feel better until hers grew back after the chemo.

But it was Sunday, the sky velvety, a Piero della Francesca sky, full of birdsong and church bells.  David had left early to play golf with a client.  She selected a rainbow-striped scarf to wrap her head.  Over her jeans and Mackinac Island t-shirt she wore a nylon jacket for one never knew if the prevailing wind off the bay would be harsh.

She was driving again, the first time in a week she had allowed herself such liberty.  The paint was scratched along her passenger's side from where she had clipped the telephone pole, but not noticeably.   She had not mentioned to David her near-accident after she returned home that evening, shaken and weak.  And he apparently had not noticed her condition or her car.

Thoughts of her vanished hair, the wind, the bay and her car darted through her head and out the windown along with swallows, gulls, shadows in flight across her windshield and off toward the dunes.  She was driving to Peninsula State Park with its miles of forested trails, shoreline and cliffs between Fish Creek and Ephraim a favorite summer destination when Julie was young.  They would pack sandwiches and potato salad, David his surfcasting outfit, a birdbook, binoculars, her easel and paints, sand toys for Julie to spend the day, maybe even build a driftwood fire at sunset -- some of her best memories.


She turned onto the shore road, curving past the MinnehahaTrailhead, the boat launch and  finally parking near the lighthouse on the south point.  She had dubbed this Hall beach, their private stretch, if the rocky coast could be considered a beach. Spray drifted up from the base of the limestone cliffs, but the air was clear to the horizon -- Horseshoe Island, Pirate Island, Little Strawberry Island, like inlaid gems, so translucent and picture-squeak, as Julie would say.  A lavaliere of clouds drifted north, toward Nicolet Bay.  Already cars had begun to line the road.  Most people hiked the trails, but by mid-afternoon, if the weather was warm, swimmers, canoes,  sailboards and now jet skis would lace and loop and crisscross.

She took her easel out of the trunk, along with her folding chair and a paper bag with an apple, orange and seedless grapes.  The sun was still low, just cresting the pines.

A hundred yards from her car and she was panting heavily through her mouth with perspiration beaded across her forehead.  She stopped under a weather-twisted maple which leaned toward the water, its peeling, nude bark as smooth and white as winter skin.  Here she would have several hours of shade before the sun moved overhead.

She had brought her bent and gnarled tubes of oils with lids stuck tight and her well-worn brushes and stretched canvas.  This was the 18 by 24 inch world she would vanish into for the next hour or so -- at first a blinding-white snowstorm, but gradually a sky would form and then a horizon line, then white-capped, green waves and the slow-flapping sandpipers which would circle and glide down if she caught them just right.  This was her psychotherapy, her well-ordered world where nothing appeared without her willing it into being.

Ever since high school she had wondered why these rituals were so important to her: of mixing paint, dab and stroke and smoothing and layering and detailing to create the illusion that never really satisfied her, not really, not if she were honest with herself.  Maybe the act itself was what mattered -- the moment, each moment a possibility, a million possibilities.  And when she stopped, she never had it right, she had once tried to explain to a student.  She simply abandoned a painting when she lost patience to fix it anymore.  What she had willed into existence had exhausted her and that was that.  And if she given her best, her mind was wrung-out and spent, every muscle of her body enervated. 


And though others found pleasure in her finished work, if she could trust their flattery, she enjoyed the labor and solitude and the mingling of spirit and substance.  A little too metaphysical for me, she thought, as she stirred several drops of walnut oil into a dollop of acrylic gesso, a mixture to accelerate the drying time.  She began to cover the canvas from upper left to lower right, allowing her right hand to rest after every several strokes. When she completed the first thin, transparent  layer, she sprayed retouching varnish on the lower half, then applied a second coating.  For sky and water she preferred opacity, an atmospheric movement of light she would build with succeeding layers.

The painting had already taken shape in her mind as an interplay of cool and warm colors, the fluid, textured waves juxtaposed against the changing sky, a familiar dialogue to her, even if she never quite knew what they were saying to each other.  A painter always left the window ajar for something unpredictabile to enter, one of her art teachers in college was fond of saying.

The canvas would need a few minutes to season before she outlined the bluffs, so she decided to stroll along the shore and wade in the shallows.  Because of a mellowing effect of the bay and Lake Michigan, Door County enjoyed relatively mild winters, but the corresponding icebox effect on the frozen bay usually delayed the water warming to 60 degrees until July.

She kicked her shoes off at water's edge and winced -- frigid water and sharp rocks, not the Bahamas, she said to herself.  But she remembered how her children had scampered into the water, squealing and splashing and crab-walking out of the waves.  It was here, so long ago, when they stole all her time, but oh so gratefully and how she longed for those two little robbers again.


No one had told her mothering was a sort of  alchemy, that one took whatever genetics and /or God had presented to her, those little mewling bundles of possibility who changed too soon and unexpectedly from Moma's little shadow into gawky knees and elbows, and then, oh Lord, were afflicted with the 'mones and blemishes and held the phone hostage and played music past the pain threshold and upended everybody's lives and were still oblivious and wouldn't care even if they knew what hell they put their parents through.  And this was on the good days.  But here, once upon a long time ago, splashing in these same waters,  she had dreamed that fairytale into reality -- a boy and a girl, white-picket fence and a forever husband -- that life.  If only.

She walked with the sun at her back, away from the lighthouse.  As she came upon a sandy depression between the loess hills, she slowed as she came in sight of a man and a woman lying hip to hip on a blanket, a wicker picnic basket at their feet.  She stared too long, too hard, recognizing first the woman, the reddish blonde hair unmistakable, her face in profile, nuzzled against the man, his dark hair peppered at the temple, brushed back over his ears, the right side of his face in blue shadow, eyes closed against the day, the face she had seen a thousand mornings, her David, her husband.  She clutched her chest,  its sudden intake, the seismograph in there registering her shock.

It wasn't happening and yet it was.  No it wasn't.  Not her blanket or basket,  not his secretary, not curled against his shoulder with his arm underneath resting against her back, not knees touching, no, not her barefoot and he in worn jogging shoes.  In a parallel universe, perhaps.

Music was playing, Ava realized, from a radio beside the woven basket, classical music spilling all over them.  And David never listened to classical music.  Not her David.  Her husband was golfing with a client.  This David was a close facsimile, but not her husband.

If she could have improvised even one reason to deny her eyes, she would never engrave the moment into her diary of hurts for future flagellation.  And though she had agonized for years about his late nights and business trips and cancelled engagements and hours and hours of his life which excluded her, now she knew.  She had known all along if she would stop lying to herself.  But now she saw.


She drove half-blind with tears, her paints and easel thrown haphazardly into the back seat, her paper sack of fruit abandoned to the shore birds.  She drove drove north toward home,  recklessly fast.  For some reason she thought she should feel emotionally raped or brimming with anguish or rage and indignation or murderous intent, but she calmed herself and slowed, relieved at last to know and to have seen.

She pulled over to the shoulder as an ambulance shot past, its siren wailing as if to echo her psychic pain, also headed north, due north, the magnetic center of her life.  But she didn't want to return home just yet, not to his brick and stone multi-level showcase, his 6,500 square feet with Italian marble fireplace, handmilled doors and woodwork, corian wet bar, crafted by a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, 50 acres, more or less.  No, it had become her San Quentin, drafty and empty now with Julie gone, and too much upkeep.  Only the sanctuary of her studio pleased her and her loyal students and her garden and the woods beyond.

The demarcations of her life with David rose with clarity, all her fears, her swallowed recriminations, his credit cards, his clients, yes what a built-in convenience.  And adultery?  Sure, why not, as easy as slipping into a pair of hush puppies.  No genius in that.  And in all her years of loyal service, had she ever voiced her concerns?  Had she ever given him cause to doubt her devotion?


She drove north past Sister Bay, the shoelace of highway looping east, then north again, bay and sky blended on her left like a Diego Rivera mural.  When she reached the outskirts of Ellison Bay she turned off the business route, the bypass carrying her northward still, inexorably, toward land's end.  Northport was less than thirty minutes.  Then she would ferry to Washington Island, past Porte des Morts -- the straits of Death's Door -- past Plum Island, miles and miles of bottomless water.  She would join the passengers shuttling to the Shipyard Marina and Den Norske Grenda and  the Norwegian shops.  She would distract herself rather than waste such a mild, pristine day.  The air to her, anywhere on the island, smelled like the open sea and freedom.

And so she arrived at noon, bought a Kielbassa off an open-air grill, drifted among the mercantile shops, the galleries, the 19th century schoolhouse, nature center, losing herself among shoppers to whom she was invisible.

Years ago she and her mother had brought Julie on the ferry, one of the few times her mother had come to Door County.  She remembered their watching a trawler unload its catch and the fishy aroma from sleek northerns, walleye and coho salmon laid on beds of melting ice which glistened like diamonds.  They had found a stable which rented horses, had spent an hour or so meandering the shady trails, her mother chiding her stubborn nag in German.  The horses only went one speed, tourist speed, she recalled saying to Julie who was nervous  at first about falling off or her chestnut roan biting her with its ivory teeth.  She was seven or eight.  Has it been that long? she thought.

Ava bought polarized sunglasses and a silver bracelet, then sat under the wrought-iron overhang of a nautical museum.  She watched families flow past, the hand-in-hand couples, the elderly with video cameras.  She didn't even mind being alone.  Most of her time in recent years, she realized, was spent alone.  She had mastered aloneness, and so what if she was alone now?  Solitude was good for the soul.

A young girl limped past, her right leg in a cast.  She pushed a blue baby carriage.  Something about her sepia hair and the swing of her pony tail made Ava think again of her own daughter, who at that age had still been civil and talkative and daughterly, pre-adolescent.  They had been open with each other then, Julie taking her hand as naturally as rain falling, that sweet, upturned face suffused with so much love and trust and why, why, why did she ever change?  What happened to her little shadow?


By 3 p.m. she was beginning to weary of the dazzling light as wave after incoming wave of tourists surging about her.  She boarded the return ferry, stood at the rail, observant, watching the inboards churn up grey froth.  Gulls followed them fishing the boat's furrowed wake.

Open water always filled her with a vague dread, the what ifs? probably inherited from her land-bred ancestors, all from the high plateaus of Central Europe.  No one in her family that she knew of ever liked water and Jeffery's drowning had magnified her fear.

She tried not to think about what went through his four-year old mind when he had tumbled  from the dock.  He had struggled to rise, maybe even kept his head aloft a few second or more, but the brown water swallowed him down.  He still fought on, she believed, a feisty child like Jeffery, but at some point the little body must have relaxed and surrendered.  The water fiilled his lungs, the perfect, tiny lungs, the little hands and feet and cheeks still so warm when they had laid him on the wet grass.  No one could breathe life back into him.

His brief life and tragic death were the great joy and regret of her life, her carelessness, her inability to bring him back.  She could not stop trying to save him in her memory, no matter what effort she exerted to forget.  She was at least entitled to carry what few vestiges of him she could, her little lost angel, sleeping on the purple velvet.

On the way home she was able to think about David and his infidelities with calm precision.  There were more women, she had no doubt.  All those sleepless nights and nagging worries.  All that pent-up anger.  As she drove, an idea occurred to her. She had read in one of her cancer brochures that uterine and ovarian cancer could be triggered by an untreated sexually transmitted disease from unprotected contact.  Should her tests have revealed some clue?  Now she wondered.  She also wondered how long this new idea would torment her with its ten thousand thorns.


Ellison Bay was settling into twilight when she parked in front of Aunty Em's Swedish Bakery.  Daylight savings time was weeks away yet, and on a Sunday evening only a few sunburned boaters straggled up from the docks.  She ordered coffee and a raspberry Danish and then spread open the residential section of the telephone book in front of her.

As she expected, there was only one Kim Hughes listed, 312 Meadowlark Lane, the subdivision adjoining the yacht club.

Why am I doing this, she asked herself after eating half the Danish.  She got back in her car and drove the winding shore road, past the Windsong condominiums her husband had built, down the gentle slope, a few sails still rigged and bobbing in the bay as pink and orange light and clouds and birds drained from the sky.  Meadowlark Lane was three blocks long, 312 the last house before the bluffs, a duplex with a red Mazda in the drive.

She hadn't anticipated David's car being there, in fact, would not have stopped if it was, but she found herself coasting to a stop against the curb, mesmerized, she felt, by an inner force that directed her up the sidewalk toward the front door.   The porchlight swung tethered like a Japanese lantern.  She stared a long time at the dull glow of a lamp behind the window curtains, then saw a shadow rise up from the floor in answer to the door bell.

And then the startled, half-open mouth of the woman, the other woman who searched the air for words.  Her makeup speckled eyelids and wide, oval eyes were like two Easter eggs, two Fabreges, two decorated windows, painted restive.  Her rote good manners kicked in, all those years of polite etiquette as she stepped back to allow Ava to enter.

You know why I'm here, Ava said, or was it Lauren Bacall's voice, slightly husky, not a question exactly.  Tthe woman's head began to tremble, Ava thought, on her thin neck, or perhaps she was nodding, but it seemed an ambivalent gesture. You know, don't you, she asked, surprised at her own, unrehearsed melodrama, her words as emotionless as shale.

Here, Ava said, removing the ring from her finger.  Take this.


The young woman backed away and shook her head no.  Kim Hughes, 30ish, a divorced  single-parent, joint custody, always pleasant but distant in the office or on the phone as if Ava were just another client, refused the ring held out to her.  It plinked when Ava dropped it onto the glass-topped coffee table..

I have worn this ring in sickness and in health, she said, given to me on September 13, the second anniversary of our having met.  I was wearing a light wool skirt, a brown sweater, we had driven in David's blue Skylark to a scenic overlook at Lake Mendota, a favorite spot for young lovers, as we were, and there he proposed to me.   This ring, David said, symbolizes our love, circular and without end, from this day until eternity.  And do you know how I felt?  Do you?

Why are you telling me this? the woman said, her eyes dull and noncommittal, her arms tight around herself, a nervous embrace.

It was romantic, a magical moment, both of us innocent then, of that I am certain, she continued.  We each chose two attendants for our wedding, I in white lace and organza, David, a black tuxedo, our honeymoon nearly a week in Montreal, his first time out of the country, a week of quiet caress, loving kisses, dreams and promises.  Why am I telling you this?

The woman looked away, down at the coffee table, the ring beside a TV Guide splayed open, a can of LaBatts, smudge marks, a plastic brush trailing strands of peroxided hair.

Because the love between a husband and his wife is sacred, a holy union, a covenant of their souls, and if you have chosen to be David's wife, to forge an indissoluble bond with him--

Why are you saying this? the woman interrupted.


Please, let me finish.  The words were pouring spontaneously into the room from deep inside Ava, a gushing well of release she could not stop.  She said, David, you should know, will leave you too, despite his best intentions.  He's like that.  I should know. We've been married thirty years.  So, go on.   Take the ring.  And when he leaves you for another, as he will, you pass it on to her, this symbol, this circular, unending symbol of one flesh and one soul and one mind -- of husband and wife.

She turned and left then, the door wide open, even as she drove away.

 

David was reading the Sunday paper in the living room when she returned home.  He glanced up briefly as he said,  you made a day of it, I guess.

I went to Washington Island. She watched him nod.  She watched for some reaction or discomfort.  Your golf go well?

You know me -- hack around to let the client win.  I got some sun, he said, holding out an arm for her to inspect.  Looks like you did, too.  He was in his zone, lord of the realm.

The wind on the ferry ride, she said.  Wind burn.  She patted her cheeks lightly.  They were flushed.

I like your scarf, he said.

Don't patronize me, she said.

Sorry.  He shuffled through the stack of papers on his lap, ignoring her.  He selected the sports section, then said, you should go to bed.  You look exhausted.

She left the room and went into the kitchen for a glass of juice, then to the bathroom in their bedroom suite.  She removed the scarf.  A sunline curved upwards, across the top of her forehead from where the wind and sun had left their imprint.  It would fade in a day or so, but it created the appearance from the unflattering, recessed ceiling lights of a nun's white cowl, her gleaming scalp more prominent when she moisturized and then powdered it with talcum.  She hadn't allowed David to see her uncovered in weeks.


This too, she consoled herself while undressing, will pass.

An insistent beeping from David's cel phone awakened her shortly after midnight.  She sat up in bed, the room gradually reassembling itself.  It was his phone, a ring different than the house phone.  She got out of bed, went into the bathroom, then down along the darkened hallway.  A strip of light below the guest room door told her where David was.

She heard his muffled voice alternate with moments of silence and then more words and then silence -- she could not hear what he was saying, but she could imagine Kim's distraught voice filling the silence, a mile away at 314 Meadowlark Lane, across a gulf of darkness.

 

Daybook, June 11

Interesting for you Julie, ironic for me, I found the one poem your father ever wrote to me in a box of momentoes I came upon in the garage.  The poem was occasioned by our tenth wedding anniversary, so by deduction, you were embryonic inside me.

I will not leave you, ever

as snow melts into the spring earth

you and I, together, are one

our souls, one flame, our days

intertwined.

No, never will I leave you,

like the falcon

still circling above,

like the moon

vigilant in the night,

like the blue whale

who will follow his mate

into the shallows:

death, less anguish,

than separation.

 

 

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