Remember when everything was game for the blues? When your laundry line led to sultry sticky summer laments colored by hot sheets and cold towels flapping mawkishly in the stagnant afternoon, mocking your clumsy breaking heart. When every humid breath reminded you to shed your stiff pressed voile dress for a slip and to lose your shoes in the vastness of your mess.
Remember when crows stole the pies cooling on the windowsill? How they took the crumbs from your babe’s mouth and dropped them in the cornfield where you were born to a poverty of love. How they stole the plate too, when you were busy with the bathtub full of liquor and dropped your gold ring down the drain.
Remember when your dress had no holes in it and the hem was straight and all the summer breezes brushed your hair and pushed the condensation on your glass of gin into your hot fingers? How the open windows whispered jasmine and orange and gushed about new mornings. How your books all open at the same broken vertebrae and sigh when you hold them close.
Remember when everything sifted down to one single point which was the point of fermentation for your jars of bright pickles? How the clear bright green clouded and bubbled like thick fog roiling in the brine. How none of your enemies were ever as important as the cucumbers on the table, resisting decomposition like preserved corpses waiting for fair trial. How time waits for no pickle.
Remember when everything was game for the blues? When it was enough to linger over a stocking ladder and a broken shoe. When Christmas trees might be nothing more than branches in a vase hung with cupids and goldfish. When you considered the steel sponge versus the mice. When your young marriage was a long bewildering existential poem punctuated by the “Jesus is the light of the world” neon sign. When you typed these thoughts out on old typewriters.
Remember when it meant everything to smell the orange blossoms in Israel and to feel your heart break for your brother all over again? When you first found your formidable anger and visceral sorrow for the world outside yourself. When you discovered that collecting shells is more therapeutic than meditation. When you heard Muslim prayers out loud in the early morning while smoking cigarettes and understood your connectedness with God as an atheist.
Remember when you died inside and knew that Billy Holiday was the ghost singer at your internal wake? The wake no one was invited to and at which no chicken was served. The wake that woke you up. The wake that put you at the front of the humanitarian peace march. The wake that reminded you to shed your stiff pressed voile dress for a slip and to lose your shoes in the vastness of your mess.