Saturday, February 13, 2010

Richard


One of your photographs leans back on tripod display in the front of the church. In that picture, you wear a safari hat and stand in front of a building heavy with roof snow, before an unnamed mountain lodge cut against a stand of Douglas fir. You look on to a point beyond the picture. Your hand is raised to your brow as if in salute and a glint in your eyes hints at adventure pending, an expectation, an inside joke.
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I can remember the priest putting his hand on your shoulder before mass started. He looked over your head to the vestments that hung in the sacristy. He asked for your help. You stepped on a stool so that you could lift the fabric onto his stooped shoulders. Both of you moved in silence. I filled the cruets with water and wine until you, with a nod, signaled that mass would begin.
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Afternoon sunlight comes through wood smoked skies to warm the white painted fa├žade of this church. I stop before going in to take my seat. In my front pocket, I have an old bit of scrawl on some note paper – a piece of a letter you wrote to me when you traveled as a boy, asking me to write you back. I have no proof that I ever did. I hear my own breathing, and watch my hands, as if from far away, fold your note, returning it to my pocket.
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If there comes a next time, made through the calculus of life after living, I want to believe that I will find a way to remember you, feel your imprint in that next life as I feel it now, and that the fact of your journey will be with me though I may not remember your name.  I reach to touch what I can't know for certain. Who am I beyond my body and does the answer to that question come in words?
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I feel the bite of a rule that says everything must go and that all even the sweetest things will be left behind. Is that the truth? Is that the truth?

February 13, 2010