In the drafty farmhouse, there are many windows, and in winter, the aunts put a candle in each one. Their most-trod paths are marked with dripping wax like red-dash routes to buried treasure, and their windows drape the snowy night with gold.
we stay up late, shouting
across time zones so
we’re heard over gas lamps
and bull and inner voices
shouting across plates of waffles
and mugs of our enemies’ tears
to plot revenge
or just hilarity or just
She begins cleaning out the closet: on hangers, ironed blouses; in drawers, crumpled camisoles; on high shelves, plastic tubs packed with summer clothes.
She doesn’t – can’t – bring them down yet. It’s hard enough to contemplate tomorrow without her mother; summer is incomprehensible.
“It takes around two years to clear up.”
“Try more rest and icing.”
It’s been two and a half years of trying, and a trying time it’s been. Now I’m just trying to believe it won’t last forever.
She sat up, sniffling and brushing away tears, blood, and gravel. Both knees were skinned and her sweater had lost a button.
Just ignore them, Mommy would say – but Mommy was gone, and she’d have to sew the button back on herself.
Afterwards you stall at the foot of the stairs. Who are you if you choose to return to your room, full of futility and decaying dreams? Who are you if you don’t?
You head upstairs. You can only be yourself, after all.
For me, Hood River is a fairyland. It only exists in summertime, when the sun coaxes fruit from the earth. After loading the car with September peaches, we depart, leaving the verdant orchards’ arching naves and the sunlit mountain until next season.