Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Our Green Card Anniversary
You come home dressed in black.
I can’t decide between silk or
velvet. I remember I wore a lace
blouse. It was a warm October day.
In the photographs I am standing
in shadow, you in the light.
You ask, “Where do you want to go?”
I don’t have any appetite, only a desire
to wear stockings and heels and
retrieve the gaze, the way you looked
at me the first time.
I remember how I clutched the flowers,
couldn’t call it a bouquet without wanting
to toss it away. In my room there
are tulips and a note. “I want to make
up,” you write. The storm was still
ringing in my ears. I remember how we
laughed trying on Halloween costumes
at the party store. One costume was
husband, another wife. I ended up wearing
strands of red coral and a gold
mask. It was our first public
appearance as a married couple.
I hadn’t changed my name yet.
The tulips are blooded and I don’t know
if I want to rebel or give in because now
I see though your subterfuge. You stood in
the light where the love reflected
off your face for all the memories
to come. I stood in shadow
promising that the tears I accumulate
would belong to us both. We took it on
despite the clock of abandonment
ticking its warning note.
“I want to make up,” you wrote.
“The way I love you is beyond words,”
I write back. At the table you open the card
and I can’t read the expression on your face.
For Dia de los Muertos your ancestors danced
on the altar with mine. Does that make us family?
Your mother’s spirit came by and blessed me in the
shadowy aftermath of the party when we
drank too much tequila. She said you would
never let me go. You hold on by offering
tulips, dinner out, the red wine I like best.
You never said you believed the
vows we took. You took my tears
and braided them into the rug at the entrance
of our home, where I live with
your name that is now mine and my
disappointments. Dia de los Muertos is
coming and I am afraid the grief will sweep me
away. Once again you
reach out to catch me. I remember
we drank champagne and I went home alone
and happy. Tonight we drink champagne
and you take me into your life
as neatly as folding shut an envelope.
When I told you I need you, you
did not try to negate me. I said
I think it is natural. You said, “Are you
ready for tiramisu?”
from Ceremonies of the Spirit
(c) Wendy Brown-Baez