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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

albino fruit

N is still in bed. E is at her mother's today. This is the best time to write, when the rooms are empty and still. We cleaned all day Saturday. I emptied three boxes of old toys, finding bits of food and god knows what as I reached their bottoms. Tiny doll clothes here, art supplies here, E's little guitar here, legos in these two boxes. We were Spring cleaning even if fresh snow was falling. The windows open, the air almost salty we pressed through the piles until there were none. N in my old CBGBs tshirt, sweeping bits of plastilene up with a furious expression - her cleaning face, I call it.

And now, a house with clean floors, with order. A house tamed into warmth and open spaces that do not hurt to walk across in the middle of the night.

The hyacinth lost its flowers. I saved a handful of shriveled blossoms for some reason in an envelope.

This is the cleansing breath. Spring begins today, but I do not feel it - I know it can't snow much longer.  These are the days just before E's birthday, when I realize we have made it another year together. When I drink in the changes late at night in the kitchen with just the stove light on, staring into a tiny glass of red wine. 

I bought a pair of Italian juice glasses in New York two summers ago, when I was still living in that apartment. I kept them wrapped in brown paper, tucked in the back of a cabinet. They were a blind wish, a promise to myself and E. I planned to unwrap them the first night I got out of there, and pour some juice for E in the other one. We would make a toast. It seemed impossible. I had thirty dollars in my pocket, my bank accounts emptied by E's mother. I did not think of those two glasses all of the time. I got caught up in the struggle to put a pile of money together. And then, looking for a pen, or some book I needed, my fingers would rest on that brown paper for a moment. 

My fingertips would relax and stop grasping in the darkness. 

We did drink juice from them a few months later. We still do. E holds on to their significance. N loves to turn them in her hands, the art deco flowers curling around in black and pink and green. 

No surprise that I bought two more glasses the last time I was in New York and presented them to N. A laugh jumped out of her mouth when she opened them. We used them right away. 

She is breathing perfectly, one foot extending from beneath the covers. 

Last night there was a giant moon in the night sky, hanging over the river like an albino fruit, rare and luminous.


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