So, yes, you can tell jokes that will send us into fits of hysteria and identify bones that will send us into bouts of weeping, and yes, you’re a genius and a doctor and a good looking man, and yes, you can pull rabbits from hats and mastermind all things mechanical, but my brother, can you dance?
In his essay, thrilled with the violinist he had heard at Carnegie Hall, my student, Yoon, wrote of the violinist’s beauty and how she played in perfect “peach.” I like to think of Yoon in that big dark hall–an orchard all his own–and how leaving, he reeked of sticky sweetness, the kind so potent that hours later you smell it on your hands and remember.
I love this photo that Olivia took because it feels like the kind of photo you find in the drawer of a bureau, a bureau you buy at a little antique store that you happen to drive by one cold November day, a bureau you just have to have, so you rope it on top of your beat-up station wagon, and you get home and start filling the drawers with your own things–soaps, panties, mended socks–and hmm, you say to yourself, what’s this? It’s a man and a woman cutting a cake with a little man and a woman on top of it. You flip the photo over and try to read the faded blue ink but can’t make out the names or the date. You turn it over again and sit looking at them for a long minute, wondering if they are happy.
Trust me, they are. Very.
In the refrigerator, a bowl of green grapes,
seedless, but still a place where the seed was meant to be.
I have been over the sink, wondering about winter,
while my husband sleeps, the sheets marking his face
in a way I’ll try, uselessly, to smooth later. My mother,
I’m sure, is waking up in Oklahoma. Her hands hurt;
I can feel the pain in my own, but it’s too early to call.
The sound of a phone ringing at this hour—
hollow, frightening—someone is dying, you just know it.
If it is only your adult daughter, the one who’s pecking
at grapes, if it is only her, asking how your plants are,
how you are, if it is only her, and the ring has broken
your whole house, it might not quite be worth it.
That racing of the heart when silence is interrupted—
someone would need to be dead or hurt or really, really lonely,
so lonely even the dawn wouldn’t make good company.