first, unsteady steps

May 25, 2012

Dear Clara,

My journey is a long one to be, I know this to be true, and yet, I find myself pressed against the glass of another fragile fragment of our unpenned past. I found myself today up against the dusty window of that old shop where we first touched hands, pleading with fate to have delivered you unto me a mere day sooner, but it seems time has set an unpenned path of his own. That old shop, the one with the speckled mug painted in the doorway, seems to have died along with our leaving this place, as if we had stolen the life up through the cracks in the tiles. Perhaps we had. Perhaps with the tide, life is carried from the grasp of one into the arms of another.

It was strange, laying eyes on that decaying old shop, like looking upon the skeleton of ship beached long ago. What was so alive, now so still. I am now able to see why so many cling to the idea of the soul—without life, it all seems so hollow and cavernous. I could call songs of love into its walls and be returned only my own words, whispered into my ear in some foreign key. I would like to imagine that you would want to see it once more, but I cannot bear the pen steady enough to draft it just now. My hand shakes with the thought of my own husk lying alone, life slipping away like grains of sand between sapped fingers.

I recall back to that day we spent under the arbor beams of that church, its boards asleep beneath our feet. It seemed to have been left for us, you claimed as the doors were flung wide with a gust of salty island air. Lying outstretched in the aisle between the silent pews, we listened to the spring grasses rustle, the faint whistle of the caves along the shore exhaling. I see you now, clear as then, perhaps clearer, pour the stream of puzzle pieces from the bag you kept at your side, them scattering on the floor. And that we harmonized them under the eye of the orange sun, it cradles me, and I am lost in a sweep of nostalgia in this moment now.

The people here do not recognize me yet. I would claim that their memories had withered away in under the breath of the ages, but in the mirror’s frame, even I do not know those eyes. I have changed. As I sat under the overhang on the porch of the inn outside town as the sun sank below the yellow hills beyond, I nursed a glass of stale tea as one of them approached me and struck up conversation. I admit, having receded primarily into silence since I departed from you, I have all but forgotten how to speak with any but my own dulcet head tones, but this man, grinning with weary cheeks and wiping his hands on faded factory garb, saw within me the spirit of listening, and so hushed me before I sputtered myself dry. I wished upon him in silent voice the blessings of a man far greater and wiser, though in that moment, I could think of none of matched endowment.

He was a man called Henry, his father’s and his mother’s father’s name. He told me no more of himself, and I did not ask. The question itself seemed to whisper with grasping against my yet unchallenged messenger of fate. It was as if a prophet had joined me upon the aging planks of that porch, speaking of futures not my own. My purpose was only to bear witness and draw out of myself for those mere minutes.

Woven around me was the story of a girl called by the name of Dana, who had disappeared into the winding hills that bear upon our tiny little town and had not returned. She was the daughter of the sheriff, untainted, untroubled, but gone all the same. They had searched weeks for her, Henry told me in hushed tones in respect for the unfound, but found naught but a folded paper swan nestled upon the water pump of the now abandoned cabin grounds, bearing her name penned in a strange hand.

I am wracked with the thirst to see this place again, as though I had never glimpsed their lush trees and violet streams on our solitary stay up there, when their walls still held life. There is a certain purpose within its mystery, a purpose I cannot help but become intoxicated by, starved regular human presence for so long. As I make my travels of our life these coming weeks, I welcome this branching path. Perhaps I will drink again the warmth of us, soul on soul huddled within those walls of log.

***

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