Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Milltown Memories

Shadows cross over. I read about a man abandoned as a boy, hiding under floorboards after his father and mother were bullied and left in blood, not knowing where he was. They dreamed on, not knowing until beyond that moment, into more. Moments are imprinted as they pass – today Sarah sat on the hillside, in clover, with a plastic wine cup, a cheese wedge, crumbles. That man, Mark, sat nearby, plate full. The cropped hair, that glance that held what, the clouded over memory of labors of love, home renovation of historic proportions, fireplaces large as closets, heavy doors, thick floors, walls thick with bricks. The whisper of a held hammer, the wind blowing, now the river sound in his ears as he sleeps with windows open in the high loft of an old mill nearby.

This is how memories go.
A waterwheel turns, and the sound of endless drops together makes a roar, then a river, then a flow of wind somehow that brings birds and memories of their flight.

Sarah remembers the first day she saw him, the way those eyes narrowed when they looked into hers, from across a small hill, with people in between. Such a glance can fell trees, slicing through trunks, or winding up into branches and pulling with a force that is undeniable. She smiled, though, because there is no more fear of the forest and only a deep ocean she hears inside of her, that is as expansive as the sky full of stars. Her little girl self skipped and rolled with the other children down the hillside, in and out of shafts of sunlight backed by the bright green grass and the sound of music from strings and the lively voices on the bandstand. Her mind twirled with the laughter of the children, and the deep well of it inside her. She could pinpoint the day they married, the way the hem of her dress dragged in the dirt, the way her flowers smelled, the way his face seemed to be absorbing the whole day as a lifetime itself, until death do us part.

She knew their children intimately of course; the way Jenny’s hair fell across her face, the way her smile crinkled into a bright open sunflower face, the way Jane’s curls dropped from her head, bouncing in light. Moments like these passed in and out of her screen, her body, and she sipped the wine from the plastic cup, nodding with the beat and hearing more.

There is always more, and the night air thickens before the rain. That woman, Sarah, remembers the way her hands felt as she opened the door to their house that last time. A dull gold key with deep ridges, before he was gone.

Mark looks up to the grey sky, and he smiles a little, with a laugh about coming home again, only a few miles from where he was born.

They will go on. And remember nothing except the way this coming home feels, this coming and going.

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