My 30s have been really, really strange. 30 and 31 were really great years. 32, not so much. But 33 has been… well, even-keeled, I guess? Perhaps this year was about moments and staying present, as opposed to blowing up about the bigger picture. This year had some really just dead cool moments with the occasional bout of frustration and admittance of stuff I didn’t want to learn about myself. But that’s what living is, right?
I got a box of Mom’s ashes on my nightstand.
The first day of college
she didn’t want to leave my dorm room.
On the last day of college,
her ashes were there when I woke,
packed up with the memories of trees and pollution
and long nights on the freeway,
listening to mix CDs,
hoping I’d eventually find you
somewhere between the streetlights,
from the life that seemed
to drain the light in you.
See Mom taught me how to use words,
what they meant,
where to put them in case of emergency,
and there are times
when I break the glass
and there’s nothing there.
Mom kept a Gideon bible
from the first place she stayed in Vegas
in her book closet,
and when I was 15
I took a highlighter to Ecclesiastes:
“To everything there is a season,”
and Mom, you died in winter.
When you’re 19 and naïve,
Death brings not a scythe, or a parasol,
but a sledgehammer,
slamming holes in your dreams
that are shaped like prophecy,
or a stain in the carpet
that won’t ever come out,
and I wanted to tell you
that I ran out of words,
that the I-10 is just a fucking road
that goes absolutely nowhere,
that every year I lose one more syllable of your voice.
“No man can find out the work that God maketh
from the beginning to the end;
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in this life.”
And I want to tell you, Mom,
that you did good.
That even though I’m fucked up
I remind people of the good memories of you,
that there is a love
that even god gets jealous of,
that even I get jealous of that 19 year old
who believed in fucked up, old gods,
mean gods that broke my heart
just as easily as they broke your blood vessels,
just as easily
as I dismiss myself in the world.
I stumble through my dreams these days,
asking questions of the ghosts in my brain,
waiting for you to come home to my subconscious,
looking at your eyes in the mirror
and remembering, and forgetting.
“A fool is full of words,” Ecclesiastes said,
and words are all I have,
the foul things that leave my lips
that you’ll never hear.
I have seen amazing things,
but the most amazing thing is
I’ll never hear your voice vibrate
through the shared air of this earth
I have up long ago on the idea that you listened
even though I still talk to myself,
stumbling though the world
with this incomplete memory inside of me,
saying “I wish you were here”
as if those 5 words would cure the world,
as if your ashes would reform
as a beautiful golem
meant to protect me from sorrow.
All I have are words on the air,
heard by birds carrying echoes
to the ends of the earth.
“A bird of the air shall carry the voice,
and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”
And I used to believe
you went to tell god that she made a mistake,
that you were never meant for entropy,
that you still had words to give me.
“If the clouds be full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth.”
And if your love is in me, Mom,
then I will empty it upon the earth at every chance I get,
lighting the eyes of the brokenhearted,
and I swear
I will carry your snorted laughter
to whoever needs that smile.
Mom, my heart is broken.
And I know you can’t fix that.
I look at the box of your ashes
and remember the last syllables that are left,
using your words like the fool that I am.