Let’s pretend it’s before, before a moment could be gone. This you, that is lost in the body of a catacomb. In the long frequencies at sunset. Even before they put up the street signs at Sunrise and Auburn. Before they tore up the hop fields on Capital, before a withered hand held out a photograph for our sepia story.
Let’s write another story.
Inside the shell that fits like a ruin inside my body, I hear the memory pacing. The wandering child inside our faulty architecture. The ruin wraps like a banyan tree around what is left of our fossils. I tell you these things because we have the same stack of overturned stones. I tell you these things because you are my lookingglass, my kabuki mask. The roots locked in the tempered lines and thick shadow.
Let’s try and tell the story that happened before your father passed,
before you were outside of far-from ,
before you knew the rhetoric inside loss, before the want for water.
When there was just breath. Let’s find the stain that is beautiful, before you knew that a breath could hold silence and a scream. The lexicon of your father’s body. The deep root that was deeper than a gasp, air thin, hands thin, and just your small fingers resting against his back, to be both of the same light. The story of an un-wound small child. Before after.
You pull an image from your pocket, while calf deep in the wet mud of a cornfield In Yuba City. Your father’s car is tracing the edges of the city. From where you stand you part the stalks with your lips. You can hear the blue haze of rain on the horizon. The color of that sound, of that tree-lined street, of that cul-de-sac, of that dent in the fender. The fierce love of wet ground, as night harvests the sky.
Our excavation is still shallow. Your hands in the soil, still pulling at the root burrowing into the ground, at mile-three on the road before the turn, before you lost your father. Maybe if I dream you and your father, I can create the story of my own loss. Pull the weathervane from beneath our trampled leaves. Find the beginning, beneath the queen palm, inside the letter wrapped in photograph, next to our dream.
I would like to believe we can tell the myth that came before the road was paved, before the rows of corn were replanted, before the wood sutured and street signs became metal posts, before the wood broke down, before we were even children made of palm and earth and bone. I see your toys floating with the belly of water. The flood that scrubbed all the rooms clean, baptizing the house. Washing it clean down to the nail, down to the small army of figurines, down to the kiss on the back of the door before hands became sediment. The flood washing the house of your story, the leaves left clinging to the walls after the water had receded, their own veins rigid. I can see the pockets of air under the wallpaper, the paint peeling, your feet so still on the ground, so still that maybe your father can hear you.
So still that maybe our dream can hear us.
Built of uncommon mothers and the voyeur inside our story.
Our story that can wash away, to the ground before.