I started to write something for her once. I wanted to call it “Colony.” It might have been a poem. It was about how I had her flags and thought they were mine. How her anthems rang in my ears. The way I’d adopted her ocular language, her currency of clock hands, her sun laws.
We talk about moments a lot. Like the moment you learn how to read. I made the babysitter call my parents. It was a book about lions, the same book my sister read to her stuffed animals the day before. She lined them up in rows—straight backs, attentive glass eyes, and tailored looks of contentment sitting three to a chair. Sometimes she held the book upside down or read the pages that were only pictures. This was the moment that p-r-i-d-e meant pride to me and nothing to my sister, or everything. I guess it was what she wanted it to be. I didn’t know then that you could say more than you wanted to with words like that. She reminds me of my sister. She likes the sound of things, the rhythm. Sound and rhythm can make more sense than ordered symbols.
And then there is the moment you realize the thing you were doing with that high school boyfriend is over. We were both in the kitchen when that happened. I was sitting on my parents’ Formica counter. She was sitting at her family’s dinner table. I was on the phone with over a year of accelerated young love two thousand miles away. She was staring hers in the face through blurry tears. I remember oranges in the fruit basket and she remembers a wet washcloth draped over the faucet. We couldn’t tell you about the words.
I was running by the hospital yesterday. It had just stopped raining and the sun fought through the low hanging clouds in radiant strings. The sidewalks were still wet at the edges. The Life Flight helicopter was lowering itself to the big red X on the hospital roof like a bee over a concrete blossom. I saw the men pull a gurney out of the back as I passed. There’s something terrifying about being caught in a landscape like that.