Better today. Two new lyrical essays, a jog along the creek walk in Tinyville, and decent presence of mind in karate class. My, the ferocity of mood swings!
Here is a sampling. Don’t be fooled by the present tense. This goes along with the other bits, sometime during the middle school years.
After So Many Years
My Nana’s been dying for about six years. First in her lungs and then in her bones and now in her brain. It’s strange, how she still smokes Benson & Hedges even though there is nothing left save her liver-spotted skin, coldstone Irish eyes, and whisps of hair that won’t stay put. When she holds my growing hand in her shrinking hand, rings slide forward along her fingers, clinking against the bones of her knuckles.
It’s the star sapphire ring I stare at the most, diamond chips set on either side of the marble-sized precious stone. Many years before I was born, my grandfather went on a government trip to Pakistan, where he purchased a fist full of uncut stones at a bizarre. When he returned to Virginia, he brought them to a jeweler who told him the red star sapphire held the highest value. Red, even though in every light it looks purple. My grandfather thought on this for a few days, carrying the stones home to show my mother—a teenager then, as I am now. She remembers them, the way they softened the look of his palms as he opened them for her to see. Within a week, he returned to the jeweler, who set the star sapphire and diamonds along a gold band in exchange for all the other stones.
Gramps gets excited when I fly from Oregon to visit, because maybe Nana will try to eat something. This is one of the few ways she has left to love me—by nourishing herself in my presence. It pains her and I am always glad that I do not have to see her throw up later, even though I can sometimes hear it from upstairs. Our favorite thing to share is Hagen-Daaz coffee flavored milkshakes. Gramps and I prepare them in the kitchen while Nana rests in the living room. She has a whistle to blow in case something happens.
Because she will not know, because she is frail, because he loves her so, my grandfather whips a raw egg into her milkshake. I watch his hands make circles with the whisk, thinking this is the shape love comes to after so many years. No pointy teardrop tip. No rounded, breast-like humps. Just the weathered, smooth circle going round and round, churning as one thing gets lost inside another.