Grandparents. Who knew I would miss them so much – that I would yearn for that wrinkled touch? I look at him and I see a shadow of a man and it scares me. He closed himself from the world so I closed myself from him.
When I see him I see me, or at least a possibility that frightens me. So I turn my back until he fades from concern until I may no longer have the chance to return. Then I will sit throwing stones, cursing at a ripple in my reflection. I’m upset with who I’ve become so I use him as my scapegoat, a wicker portrait of “well at least I’m not…”. I run down the barrel of my throat, looking over my shoulder and tripping into a familiar rut.
I wonder what age he was when that switch flicked in his mind when he started putting up fences and saying: “ok, that’s all well and good but let me alone to cultivate my pasture here and you carry on with your business, it’s none of mine.” Eventually all the best kept gardens turn to jungles you can’t quite peek outside of, and the foreign begins to feel dangerous. You’ve felt safe here for so long so why would you want to leave? Things make sense. Even if it’s a dream why roll over and wake yourself when you could stay blissfully eating of the fruits of your hard-earned labour?
Look at your grandson so filled with conflicting ideas; a blind and endless outrage pouring out of him and you pity the fool who flails in the mystery. Who falls like the rain and rises with the sun, who knows not of pain, what it’s like to lose someone that breathed and defined with each stroke of her palm. She made you wilt, made you shine, told you that this garden was Eden and even if one day you part she’ll leave herself rooted deep in your dog-toothed heart.
You can’t change because to believe that this is not enough feels like spitting in her face. Her face that fell limp in your arms when the chill slowly rose from her toes to her cheeks. When closing your eyes that night felt like a cruel curtain call, shaking you awake alone and confused for the first time in what seems many many lifetimes. You felt helpless as a child but you no longer had those who would comfort you, pat your back and teach you of the ways of the world.
Something felt different. Your children look at you strangely now, seeming to estimate how long you’ve got left and looking with pity when they attempt to assess the damages non-verbally. You mustn’t be a burden, you must keep moving, keep your head down and cause no undue strife: you’ve had a nice life after all. Let’s just sit down, have a beer and put her in autopilot.
Think of this as an epilogue, no expectations, no disappointments or treasure troves. Just the surety of the rain and the sun and the daily syndicated paper that speaks your language and tells you what you already understand. Pay no mind to the ravings of the young. They’ll learn one day, after all this fighting, how it feels to truly die to the world and clutch their pearls as if they’re the last marbles left. Rolling and recategorizing memories just to see how they sit. You reach out to me and you offer me one, but I hesitate because it’s not the truth that I asked for and not the man I wanted to deliver it. You’re an archive, a ghost, an auto-didactic nightmare for the young but you’re here for a few more days and I should step back, and learn to let you brighten one.