Spool of Days
I keep a small journal for my dreams, which I write down in the mornings, drowsy with sun, hair in tangles, lapping at the edges. I’ve typed them out here.
Blue threads pool in my underbelly. The telephone is clenched in these warm hands; dusk is everywhere.
Her voice eats up the quiet in soft, gentle mouthfuls, gliding along the frenzied air, crashing. The questions are the same, and the dusk is sticky.
“Who is it?”
Cicadas and air-conditioning. Hot summer blazed in oak trees. We could go climbing.
“Oh, it’s so nice to hear your voice. I haven’t heard from you in so long. How are you all?”
You had your hair tied as you brushed the spoon back and forth in that frying pan.
“How am I doing?”
You smiled and yelled and showered me in warmth.
Circular disks of palm sugar collapsed like sandcastles in blistering heat. And kids laughed.
“To be honest with you. It gets lonely here.”
“It gets lonely.”
“It’s so quiet here.”
I remember the big white house. Morning glories bleeding in softest watercolor. Ferns bursting from the kitchen ceiling. Sunlight pouring through craters in plaster. Flooding us. You and me in the afternoon light. Years ago.
“I wish you could come over.”
I went for a walk the other day. Friday it was. Watched your face appear in the apartment window. The august skies, pale and threadbare, wrapped themselves around you. Saw your hands as you waved.
On the way home, I cut through the park to watch the ducks sleeping. Do you remember? I was a little girl with dirty brown hair. You were a woman who watched the suburbs expanding over black coffee. And the Ontario air was frothy as we hunched towards the peer, tossing clumps of white bread at the silky waters. We watched the seagulls fuse with the wind, rising and falling with each clumsy throw. The walk back towards the car: a crisp and gentle metamorphosis.
“It would be so nice to see you.”
I remind you again. I talk about grocery stores and hand sanitizer. Your voice falters, surges, halts. A horse smudged in muddy tracks. Over the phone, I draw a map of Montreal. I trace the Saint-Laurence in quivering lines. I count off the arrondissements in my mind. I leave a bulging mass for the Mount-Royal. I take a marker and color it all red.
“Oh. I see.”
There is quiet. My bedroom door is half-open. The hallway is golden. Glow-in-the-dark stars float on a plaster ceiling. One small, self-contained universe. We wanted to make constellations. Andromeda. Cassiopeia. Ram. But we emptied that box of galaxies before making it halfway across the bed.
“And this is in the whole world?”
In the dusky blue of a bruised room, I nod; then remember the cell phone. A phantom limb is my smile in the dark faraway from you. We’re held together by telephone wires and sound and a vague sense of time. The silence has evened us. There is space for shifts, relapses in conversation.
“How was your day yesterday?”
Yesterday. How was yesterday?
How was yesterday?
Well. We tumbled in the lake yesterday, body gentle blue, a belly button perched in autumn wind, the earth tender and sunburnt, West Memphis under fire. Afterwards, cool, Joni came rushing as I slept on cotton, windows open, fan going, round and round. The hurricanes in my headphones subsided, guitars snapped, maple tinted the air. In the blue TV screen light, I drew a map of Canada. Oh, Canada.
How was yesterday?
Remember when we climbed those ice cliffs? The ones swollen with splinters of glassy light, lodged in our irises, our pupils? We moved in snow coats, weighed and warm, wringing out white hills until we realized that we’d feasted on the winter sun, its weathered tranquility, its worn new beginnings, its hungry want. It caught our flush and sweat and calloused hands. It swallowed. Everything.
Now your mind is an Everest. We climb through parks and art books. You spread them on wooden tables and point to Mondrian’s flowers. You think the chrysanthemums look like soldiers, if you tilt your head to the left. You move through the apartment, peering into the cavernous streets below, soothing with their sun and strangers. Two rooms. Four windows. You rearrange yourself.
How was yesterday?
Yesterday, we sang Amazing Grace through the telephone. Our tinsel voices chugged through lines and pulled the melody down, into those dusky, electric waters.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
Tugboats, twinkling red with 6pm, we dragged the body of that milky blue whale towards the shore, receiver in hand, melody tangled breathless in fishing wire. I saw your eyes crinkle as you laughed when our voices swooped. I saw it despite the sidewalks, the pines, the years between us. You said this country is a season. It too will slip away.
“I love you. I miss you.”
Me too, grandma.
The phone light disappears. The room is quiet. The walls are stained blue. Summer is buzzing.
And from my cluster of world maps and wind chimes, I wonder what it means to have been blessed. Really blessed. The kind that requires kneeling and whispered prayers and church darkness sliced by honeyed motions. I wonder if I am blessed now.
I wonder if your voice is the chorus.
And I catch myself thinking again. That I am an urn of faded ceramic. I dream myself sitting in dusty sunlight. I watch your hands darken with clay. I feel the memories leaking. Blue threads. I was meant to hold you.
Blue threads tip towards the lake,
and I sit and watch shadows, wrecked,
by the lily torn moon