In the gathering, the sliding, (into protective sleeves), the organizing, the binding, I am knowing you, again. As the rings are thread through the die-cut hollows along the margins of each page, your story is bound with mine. The tools you gripped between thumb, index and middle fingers of your right hand deliberately moved in signature ellipses of D/d’s and B/b’s, the way a curl infused your I’s and T’s, a combination of perfectly aligned smooth curves and hard stops gliding on a slight right-ward tilt across sheets torn from school-ruled spiral notebooks and boxed note sets gifted from me to him. The lilt of your strokes roll in abiding motion over my tongue, as each leaf unfolds unto another through days, months, years, confused teens, dreamy twenties, ambitious thirties, dating, working, parenting.

            Our story is, as it was. Inscribed as it was meant to be. A poetic verse that pulsates beyond the moment the steel rings snap shut. From this day forward I am experiencing you in new ways, in my own maturing.

            Reading the accounts of our lives before us, of us, after us validates that this fairytale was mine and is mine to have and to hold from this day forward. From your words, pictures form and luxuriate in my head: You are alone in your parent’s basement, recording your ballads, writing me lyrics of flooding your darkness with my light, unlocking doors and unbarring gates to write I love you on a slate. We are walking along a path in a college campus, separate but together. You overstep your shyness to interrupt my audible soliloquy, “such a beautiful day”, and you say, “yes it is! Hello, my name is Dave.” You are an upstate boy, muscular and broad shouldered, warm sun-kissed tone, exotic brown-eyed… as I had imagined you, long before I knew you, before I knew myself, when I was an eight year old dreamer under the stars lying in the grass of my childhood home… mirroring your own image on the campus where we’ll meet nine years in the future. You are journeying through an urban jungle with the weight of your genetic encumbrance hanging from your amber eyes, just to see me with your touch. We are navigating city grids that are imprinted in your sightless mind, streets you have drifted along and dissipated from in dreams. We are playing house, you revel in little boy games with your sons while my smile bathes in a steaming pot of Bolognese. Rocky cliffs, foamy tides, descending frozen mountainsides. We are holding hands so I can guide you in your darkness where you can feel the curve’s edge, so you can see everything I see.

What atonement is this? Writing words like these, I am also living. An engraved stroke is enough to let me know I am not alone in the universe, even in sleep. The dream-ghosts of two worlds, walking their ghost towns, address each other. I’ve awakened to your muttered words, spoken dark-years away or light-years ahead, as if my own voice had spoken. We were two lovers of one generation. The past echoing through our bloodstreams is freighted with different meaning, different language, though in any chronicle of the world we share it could be written with new meaning.

Do you know I was dreaming? You follow me into my dreams, my past, the places that cannot be explained to anyone. I had entered your mother’s house and you were sunken into a living room recliner wearing a flannel shirt of cream and navy plaid and loose-fitting jeans. Your skin was a tad more aged than last I saw you, your hair mildly peppered with dry grey strands. You turned your gaze to me, staring into my eyes. No words. Your face was beautiful. Your soul naked in the brown agate irides I’ve held in the vault of my mind’s eye., like an oculus opening to an ancient firmament, narcotized in my unconscious mind. As though washing your body with the gentle stroke of a smooth warm cloth, I run my hands over your bumpy clavicle, around your scapulae (the two pieces pulverized into your graven urn), down your short upper arm, stopping a moment at your elbows, continuing along masculine forearms, the tips of my index fingers circle your wrists, tracing the bony impressions on the backs of your hands. You spread your fingers, raising your hand with just enough space for me to slide mine between yours. All the while, our eyes are locked. I straddle your legs and glide into your lap, gentle as a lamb to the milk of its dam, and fold into you. You embrace me tight. I feel the memory of your strength and say, “I’ve missed you dear.” And you say “I’ve missed you too.” The creased edges of your lips and eyes rise like the hands of the beloved offering a chalice of sacramental wine, and I see you. You see me. Hiro (your mother), sits beside us, cradling a bowl of steaming soba for her long-gone son. But your attention cannot be drawn to her offering. We are locked into each other.

“David, I’m so happy to be in your arms.”

“Mmm, I am too.

“I need you. Your boys need you so much, in immeasurable ways. Your absence has had a profound effect on their lives.” We are swathed in golden light.

“I want to hear about my boys.” I show him images which are suspended before us in a holographic-sort of display. “They are men. They look like strong young men,” he weeps. “What do they do?”

“Dylan is doing well. He just graduated from college and is learning so many things about relationship, the Earth, life.”

“And Davin?”

I weep, “Davin struggles. He struggles to learn, laugh, love. He is lost. Your absence has had a profound effect on his emotional growth, leaving a hole that the world relentlessly forceps open with blunt force. Blunt force, that is what the Medical Examiner declared as your manner of death. Blunt force.”

Your embrace strengthens. I feel your hand stroke my back, up, then down, then up again. Your lips brush my forehead, cheeks, and neck. Your warm breath drinks mine. A return to divine, I don’t ever want to leave. I feel my pain move through the physical veil that divides us, into the gape of your soul. “It’s been very difficult for me to bear alone.”

“I love them so very much,” you whisper.

“They need to see you.”

I hear Hiro’s quiet sobbing. She is content and moved to feel the love containing us. Buckwheat and soy atomize our essence.

You declare, “I Love you Dear. You are my Dear. I love you forever.”

Our son enters from the back porch and I awaken from the dream.

How we used to work side by side! And how I’ve worked since your leaving, trying to create according to our plan, that I’d bring, against the odds, our full power to every subject, raising our sons, respecting mother Earth, enhancing the world. I hold on steadfast because we were the New World couple (man and woman). David, our strength still resides in the things we used to talk about: How we respect one another, how we prioritize wants-vs-needs, how to get as much enjoyment in the short time we are here. This is what we wished for our sons, our treasures, you wrote.

Dave, I feel so full of work yet to be done. My prolonged remission has unbarred the gate of freedom from the diversions of my past and from this day forward, I can walk toward the life I see ahead with the love I feel for you and our boys, composed, knowing only you will hear all I say and cannot say.

The moon will wax and wane, the days will run together and flow into years. As rivers freeze and embers burn and I ask myself and you, which of our visions will define us, which do we claim, who will we touch, what will I know, what will we say to each other, on the other side of this starblind road to fate.

I wake early in the morning in a bed we had shared for two decades, where I had laid watching your tranquil, sacred sleep as if, simultaneously, for the first and last time. We have been apart so many nights and days, this September day is no longer unusual, your absence nearly as long as your presence.

It is the first of September, a beginning or an end. I walk along a broken sidewalk… a school bus motors around the corner on a clear September morning… veiled in your immortal light. Seasons change and I am trying to hold in one steady glance, all the parts of my life. I am moving into the equinox and there is so much here I still do not understand. If I could know in what language to address the spirits that claim a place above this celestial ceiling, entities that dwell in mute insistence, perhaps I could make sense of how my life continues entwined with mortal dust and rose thorns, my burdens may slowly shift beneath the falling leaves.

© 2019 Deborah Garcia

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