Let me take you down to Oregon, where the clouds purple and the paths grow thick and soft with moss, where we see people we haven't seen in years and you first become aware of change. The people in Oregon wave at each other in the streets and have lungs full of swelling rainwater, and by the people in Oregon I mean the only three people that matter: my great-grandma, who is blind, my grandpa, who fought in the Korean War, and Miss Vi, who has done everything under the sun.
Oregon feels like beginnings. Like the air is thick with the hero's journey and becoming.
Time takes a break everywhere else and things like Thanksgiving/Christmas/spring/summer homework seem unreal. Nothing matters but finding rose-perfumed pieces of grandma in the sewing room and trailblazing cakey mud paths in the gray wetlands by grandpa's house. Constellations of yellow dandelion flowers and bushes of glowing lacquer-red berries scattered in the underbrush. It's all a big "finding yourself" kind of thing: the next great American novel about young adults dredging up identity in the past.
There is a something-floral perfume mixing with the smell of rain in every room: a constant battle between grandma and nature and time heals all wounds. Miss Vi's picture is already intruding on the nightstand. The clock sings every hour. Oregon is a confusing mix of growing up and learning to be a grown-up; I find bits of myself between shelves; a child's thumbprints pressed between crumbling-yellow book spines; wobbling first-steps mashed into the green carpet; my collarbone under the work table in the craft room; my fingers preserved between great-grandma's, knitting forever; my ribcage caught somewhere between here and Puerto Rico. Miss Vi tells me that as soon as we leave, the sewing room is going to be cleaned out. There will be no grandma, no child-me left. I can only assume it's for the best, because Miss Vi has done everything under the sun, including burying her own husband.
I have another consolation.
Great-grandma, who is so old that she forgets that we need to forget grandma, takes her century-old hands in mine. We are trying to say goodbye but it suddenly seems unimportant when she wedges her nail against my wristbone, against three-year-old scars she can't even see. One of her eyes is blue as glass. The other can't make up its mind and is webbed with pink veins.
Oh, she says, in her thick, wobbling accent that rolls the r's and stumbles the l's, I've found your pulse.
Yes, I say back because really, what are you supposed to say?
You have a strong pulse, she assures me. That's good, eh? You have a strong heartbeat.
Found in Volume XV (2016-2017)