The writer is rarely in the now. Hemingway couldn’t write about Michigan until he was in Paris, but I don’t have the grace of time and distance. Today I can not pick up a pen. It has to be a chisel. I want to be Michelangelo. Let me chip away at my marbled block of words until I find my David.
His name is B and he is a lump of death. There is no metaphor here.
Let me begin again. I remember sitting in a basement writing, more-so pretending to write, while his long fingers flicked yellow ochre across a canvas in attempt to halo the sun. It must have been his hands that I fell in love with first, fingernails donned in acrylic. Years later our daughters would be gifted those exact hands.
Hospice is a mix between a fancy funeral home and a five star hotel equipped with a top notch pharmacy. They bathe him each night and afterwards I crawl in his bed and cling to him, as if clinging can save us. I kiss him and sometimes it’s like he puckers up, but sometimes he smacks his lips like I am a piece of fried chicken. He is starving to death.
I remember a Sunday afternoon in my newly built house. He pulled me to him on the recliner, my knees suctioned to his hips. We kissed and kissed and kissed.
As I write, he is next to me, wide eyed and staring. One pupil is bigger than the other. The nurse says that is common with brain damage. Because of the tracheotomy, his labored breathing is like the purr of a cat.
He used to call me his kitten. So much of our love is epistolary. He’d be in jail and I’d be in rehab. I’d address him as My Heart’s Darling. He’d write things like, “You live in my bones.”
I don’t want to want this to be over. He should have on boxer briefs, not a diaper. I want to touch his hip bones or see that patch of hair below his belly button. These are things that belong to me.
I remember the first time we made love. It was in the back of my Jeep Liberty. We put the seats down. He said, “If I take you, I’m not giving you back.” The cold of December juxtaposed with bodies on fire.
Sober girl alive. Beautiful man dying. This was not supposed to be our story.
Once I had my students write six word short stories, using Hemingway’s example, “Baby shoes. For sale. Never worn.” It’s a difficult assignment. How much mystery and sadness can be packed into six words? I only remember one student’s story.
“They kissed and then they didn’t.”