3/12/15 They Drove

They drove through towns on along  the mountain ridges. Gordy took his eyes off the road for an instant to look at rivers that churned and bulged with springtime runoff. Mai slept and woke and slept again, then drank some water and watched the mountain town, the ski resort and everything she had once known and now didn’t recede in the distance.

They came to sweeping fields bordered by mountainous hills. The fields were golden and fences and flowers grew by their sides. Mai rolled down the windows to let the spring air in. For lunch they stopped along the side of the road and few cars passed them as they ate some cheese and crackers from the cooler and drank water. Gordy cut an apple into slices and they shared that too.

“The kids will be wondering,” said Mai from the passenger seat.

“Wondering about what?” asked Gordy.

“Where we’ve gone.”

“Let’s sit in the field,” said Gordy.

He stood and walked around the car and help Mai stand and once she was steady he gathered up the little lunch. Mai held his arm with one hand and her cane with the other and together they walked twenty paces into the field they were parked along before sitting down amid the tall golden grass with much effort. Neither of them could sit cross legged so the both just flopped and lay on their backs, which made it difficult for them to eat, but the way the grass pressed their back, they didn’t mind. It was so alive.

“Brian will be calling and calling,” said Mai.


“Because we aren’t at home like we said we would be.”

“Yep. He will be angry with me,” said Gordy.

“And Elsa.”

“Elsa will understand better, I think,” he said.

“Because she has someone?” asked Mai.

“Yes,” said Gordy finding Mai’s hand and grasping it and feeling her skin that become so loose over her bones that it threatened to melt off her.

“How are we going to get up?” she asked.

“We don’t ever need to,” said Gordy.

This was the first real conversation he’d had with Mai in weeks. He didn’t want it to end. Perhaps it was something about the fresh Canadian air that was sparking her mind back to reality. Gordy raised a piece of apple to his mouth and bit down on it. He handed a piece to Mai. She ate it.

“I don’t think this is the place,” she said. “The butterflies don’t come here.”

And the moment was gone. Gordy felt it flutter away. There she went, talking about those butterflies, but which–her own back at home? Dying in their cage, or ones in her mind that she believe were real but weren’t?

Gordy wasn’t sure why the butterflies were such a stone of reality for her while so much about their time together had been washed away from her mind like water receding from the short to take with it what he pleased. But the butterflies, those would stay with Mai forever.


3/3/15: Silence Sometimes Speaks

If you wake early

I will rise to greet the sun.

Those splashing eyes and flutter

heart do smile.


On the path I’d not break the silent tread

but listen to the whisper of the leaves.

Each footfall is a heartbeat upon this trail.

Talking can be used at other times.


Over looking water the night sky shines.

Our feet have dirtied and cold

and our stomachs warm with wine.

The clay smears your pants but

you only want more.


From high above we’ll feel the drops of rain.

If they would not hit us

maybe they’d not have fallen,

but only upon your nose.


Arrived home late I still meet you


Never left, then I too won’t.

With movements like water

over the smoothest stones you

can wrap me up.


And when we say goodbye

there is a knot,

and when I am alone

and so are you–

and in the dark–

I smile and almost laugh

and burning reaches the

corner of my eyes–and

in bed–drips down to fill my



The silence is no longer as safe as it was.



And I looked into Nate’s eyes and there weren’t anything there at all. It was much like looking into a dark cave or at night when the clouds are thick above. There just aint nothing there. And right then I knew he’d missed Ma more than I had. More than I could have known and I wondered why he hadn’t taken me with. I wondered if he could have, or if I’d even have wanted to go. I doubted it.

“Nate,” I said in the night, shining my flashlight back onto the tree where Ma had died. “Nate, I gotta go. I can’t stay here with Pop if you ain’t going to be around.”

My older brother didn’t say a word. Probably because he was just as lost as Ma was at that point.

I clocked off my light and the branch that was in that other place vanished. I wrapped my arms around Nate and squeezed. He didn’t move, just kept standing there and staring. I could feel his ribs under his hoodie and I could feel his breath coming in and out and so I knew he was alive, unlike Ma. But something inside him had left.

I let go of Nate. “Take care of Pop for me,” I said. And then I began to walk away. I flicked my flashlight back on and walked in the direction of the outlet.

When I came to it I looked back and could see my brother still standing and staring. Pop would find him in the morning, but couldn’t hurt him anymore, I knew. But Pop could still have hurt me and after losing Ma, the loss of Nate might just put Pop over the edge and I wasn’t going to be around when that happened.

In the moonlight Nate was a statue. Maybe God was up there shaping him to be just like that. But if God was, then what was he doing for me? I turned away and with one hand I pushed the dewy salmon berry bushes aside and left Ma, Pop and Nate behind not knowing what I might find.