It was such treat to be able to set up the sound system again, wear my shibori dyed truly wearable art. perform with my amazing husband, Larry Vogt and to listen to my friends, Soreyda Begley and Joe Anthony tell their stories and to hear my grandson, Chuck Logsdon play the violin. I am looking forward to my grandson, Avery, reading his work. (Click here to read his latest music reviews.) I am blessed.
1992 The Coffin
I’ve never had to look for what I wanted. It would seem to appear, just when I needed it, in the most unlikely place, the top shelf of the closet, the back pocket of a pair of jeans or between the mattresses.
I don’t remember putting the pages between the mattresses, but there they were, yesterday, when I was washing the eyelet dust ruffle that goes around my king-size bed. It was the story he told me after the tears and gentle hug. He said he was afraid of flowers that fell on the ground because every time he picked one up it slipped through his fingers and he worried about their daughters.
He always threw the roses in the compost before she thought they were ready. She waited until the petals turned brown but he wanted to see the pink and red, sift and sprinkle in his rose-petal compost, shaded by the pine trees, guarded by the white picket fence.
He wanted to cut the trees at the back of the field and plant bushes with white flowers. She didn’t want to see buildings and sky when she looked through her lace-covered window.
“It will take years for the trees to grow back,” she said.
“Only eight,” he said.
“I could be dead by then,” she said.
He pounded each nail into the pine coffin as though the point penetrated a memory. Like the time they hiked up the ridge in early spring and he took photos of her naked up against the tree. She didn’t let the cool spring air keep her from staring into the lens of his camera. Each nail went in smoothly, making a sound, shrill, as he pounded his heart and swallowed down tears.
She had loved dead roses. Found places to stick them; behind pictures, under teddy bears and inside her underwear drawer, next to mementos and panties and her rosary, the rosary she fondled, convinced it would tie her to kites that carried her vision. When she slid into the bath water, he’d drop dried rose petals on top of her.
Their daughters made the padding, a silky, shiny, ivory padding; the same ivory color she had chosen for her wedding dress, even if she was his third wife; the same ivory she chose for the lace-covered christening gown, even though they never went to church. He massaged her foot her last night. He wrapped his hands around her toes and squeezed them.
The toes of his own foot were numb, his shoes, worn, and the old house they’d started to fix, finally, up just sat there at the edge of town. Now he would never see anything but music on the walls. The mirror still held her image, and it still moved moved, in its own way, up and down, while candles flickered. She was not there to blow them out. The wind from the window made them dance.
There was no church service. He dug the grave himself. He interrupted the grass with tiny winding paths and the shovel leaned against the shed as a shadow struck a chord of disbelief at all the dead roses on the dusty windowsill.
Every scoop of dirt, a kiss tossed over his shoulder, a vision in the mirror with the low lights on, her body, a silhouette hovering near his cheek, her kiss, a tiny slither of moonlight, still there from the first time. The sweat that dripped as he dug mixed with the tears that wouldn’t fall.
The girls and their friends and his friends and her friends stood in a circle holding hands, humming their favorite song until the hum became one song nobody ever heard before and he and his brothers slowly lowered her in the satin-lined pine coffin. Fresh dirt trickled back in, handful by handful. Every friend remained until there were only flowers left to plant and he did that alone, waiting for the tears to come unstuck, waiting for the lump to burst out.
He cut pink roses, arranged them in the fake crystal vase on the dresser. The tears that fell were finally filling up the room, the candles finally went out. There was a connection between his tears and dead roses, they both fell one by one until the pile on the dresser was brilliant and crunchy, and the tears, frozen like solid daggers, colored pink and translucent stuck to the rose petals. The darkness was cut in half by a tiny slither of moonlight that brushed his cheek as he watched the mirror.
I never had to look for him after that. He would appear in my dreams at night and I never had to look for her either. Her story was wrapped in waxed paper and kept safe between the mattress on my bed and the dust ruffle that scraped along the floor, the eyelets making music dance on the walls.