Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Inheritance of Images

An inheritance of images piled haphazardly
in the suitcase with worn corners,
roaches chewing their way
into the hoard of negatives and photographs,
nesting next to those images of grays
and stark whites and blacks like smudges of charcoal.
All those photographs whose tones have faded
like a pile of slippery fish losing their color,
still stored in that suitcase like random statements,
no doubt curling from the heat,
needing to be flattened and then straightened
in order of exposure like facts in a story.

The last time at the old house in Walker
I pull the suitcase from under the bed,
being brave enough to open it, finding
myself sometime later, elbows on knees,
each hand holding an irregular stack,
becoming aware in the fading light
that no one alive can date all these statements,
can over the paralyzing randomness,
the piercing stillness of these lively images.

Opening the old brown suitcase
is acknowledging long ago everydayness,
flinging open long closed doors and windows,
seeing broken fingernails along sealed cracks,
the feeling of someone approaching,
bringing years tough and septia-washed,
the creak of imagined footfalls in the hallway
like a jolt from bad wiring on a Christmas tree.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Christmas Eve, 1993

Baton Rouge General Hospital
Christmas Eve, 1993

   Jen is restless, back under the surface, finally quieting before dawn. An early morning trip home, a shower, thinking about the two hours yesterday that Jen surfaced and treaded water, looking around at all of us in the room, anxiety attacking constantly. I don’t crawl into bed like I want after showering but drop by Ronnie McCallum’s for a quick visit then on out to Laurie’s. While waiting for her before going to my mother’s, I crawl under a blanket on the couch and doze. Have to laugh when I am startled awake by the sound of an IV machine on Days of Our Lives.
   The trip out to Walker to eat gumbo and visit family while watching the kids tear open presents doesn’t last long. Not like previous all day affairs when all of us get together and spend the entire evening laughing and reminiscing only about the good times, my father feeding the dressing to the dogs, Dee and I in the yard putting a trampoline together in ten degree weather, our fingers sticking to the circular metal, trying to stretch cold springs that give only slightly; and on Christmas Eve longer ago, sometimes my father and I fish, or he, Wayne, Willie perhaps, maybe his son, Dennis, will squirrel hunt early in the morning, the mist rolling close to the ground, the anticipation of presents to come the true Christmas gift.

   Visitors all day long. Jen is much shallower, as Dr. Rogers once said, aware of all noises, movements in the room, greetings and touches from family and friends. For a few moments she emerges again, but her disoriented look which should be heartening is only heartbreaking.