Monday, January 15, 2007

for dearest sara (on the occasion of her death)

The women are alone again tonight. I wonder where their husbands are off to. She lights a cigarette, someone complains. I sit in front of his door, and she looks at me, you had better stay out of trouble, she says. Yes I agree. Yes, I know. But I know nothing, I admit to her. She laughs, Why not find yourself a nice girl and settle down? Yes, but I don’t know. She smiles and asks the girls where their husbands are off to. They don’t know if they’re coming or going! But whatever it is, they’re gone, I say. We don’t talk like that, they say and they fold their hands on the table. She feels the pattern of the lace, the low relief, the familiar lines.

In prayer I hear her digging up the sand on the beach, in front of her house, in front of her view. Of the few things she owns, there is this view—soon to be in limbo and orphaned. This is the first time I've watched the sunrise in maybe 60 years, you know. I didn’t know that, and I’m interested in why. But there is no answer, of course—she’s looking away.

Now she is quiet and I strain myself to hear her. I turn on the bench, look through the floral print wallpaper and see her, leaning beside a window, open five or so inches, legs crossed, looking outside, over the seagulls. What is so interesting about those birds? Whatever answer they can give, whatever mystical advice will always be opaque. That’s right darling, she’ll say to me.

Yes, I answer. I do not knock on the door. I will not see her or hear her again. Outside, it is beautiful winter on the Oregon Coast. I hear a car passing, I hear Yiddish—nothing particular, nothing to speak of.