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the list

It was a simple request, but it took me months to solve it. Soon we will have guests in the house for V's birthday, and the cascading piles of notes and camera parts, the lopsided villages of books, the forgotten bowls of loose change - they all had to find homes. I even bought a collection of clear, stackable boxes just after Christmas, but they sat like empty open mouths gathering bits of fluff and dust in them until today. With little flakes of fresh snow dancing against the windows, I began at one end of the room.

The problem with cleaning is that you constantly find lost treasures, windows into your past lives. Here, a set of notes from a film I was writing some seven years ago. Here, the warranty for a watch I bought for N (that I still need to register). And next, a Soviet ruble that I bought in Tbilisi at the dry bridge market, the location of the lost wonders of the world. Next to a broken saxophone and an old rug, I remember noticing a handful of old coins that I bought…

a clear midnight

The sun rises by four just as we have found our way to becoming a slack pair of spoons. I can see the sky through my closed eyelids, pressing past the curtains and the balcony. The trucks are rumbling along the river. Teenagers are still out in mufflerless cars screaming and careening down the highway with throaty approaches that drift off, leaving us back to our pillows.

N turns, dragging my arm across her shoulder. The bed jiggles a bit, like the soft wet yolk in the center of a sunny side up egg.

The sheets are twisted around our hips. N's breathing is steady, calm. I smell the burnt toast smell of diesel exhaust. I hear the bark of the neighbor's tiny dogs. 

I stare at the ceiling.

I can remember a million things at this hour. I can walk lucid through history in this half-light. 

The tv is on, a miniature black and white screen in beige plastic. It sits in the corner of the room. Outside, I can see the treetops, Garfield place, a seltzer man working his way down the block. Charlie Chan is on, solving mysteries in thirty minutes or less. I sit on the bare wood floor, legs crossed.
"Admitting failure like drinking bitter tea." He says.
I really want an ice cream.

I see E, but grown up now. She is tall, her hair long and wild. Laughing, taking photographs of a friend, she moves with a sort of grace I could never predict. The sun is low in the sky. We are by the ocean. I feel my toes in the sand but will not look down. If I do, this will all disappear. I stare at her, at her round cheeks, her giant eyes. This is my child. This is what she will look like someday. Her fingers are long, covered with cheap rings, a clump of necklaces on her neck. The light haired gypsy. 

I squeeze my eyes closed. It is six now, but looks like eleven.

The smell of oranges and lemongrass wash over me. I see nothing, just sense a warmth, maybe of smooth wood around me, heavy, oiled, massive. There are candles here I think. I hear the crackle of a fire. I am suddenly hungry for sour apples.

Sleep comes. N throws one of her legs across me, pressing against my side. I turn my face into the pillows. I try to match her breathing, to find her secret recipe. I rest my palm on the two dimples at the base of her spine. 

The bottom of her back is like a tiny ocean. 


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