Friday, August 30, 2013
Only Once, Just Briefly
We met only once, just briefly, at the coffee shop down the block, when I held the door open for you, and our eyes met for a second before I followed you inside, taking a seat not far from where you sat reading Rabelais, and I wracked my mind for everything I had learned about his work in an undergraduate literature course that I found rather boring at the time, wishing that I paid more attention for moments like this, as I sat sipping my coffee. I don’t remember what I said as I approached, but it made you smile, the first time I saw your eyes light up, and as I sat we talked about literature in the way of those lost in a language all their own, unrecognizable to those not lost in the moment or in the know, and as we sat there, exchanging stories of our favorite writers, you slowly grew older, each second ticking by an eternity, until we left the cafe and made our way to your apartment for our first dinner, and after a week we were married, all our friends and family gathered in the small church where you grew up and were baptized as a small child, everyone wishing us well, as the seconds flew by, each tick a resounding thud. And then, after a month, we welcomed our first child, a little girl with blond curls, who soon will be driving, edging her way out of our lives, one small piece at a time in personal freedom and creation of a life in which we are outliers, no longer the norm, the ones to bandage, and kiss, and console, our places taken by someone new, someone who loves her, perhaps as much, so he claims, or she claims, as we, but we both know this is to untrue, and it’s only a matter of time before she finds out for herself, welcoming our first grandchild, a small boy, too soon in college. And after a month, we awaken at dawn, the colors of day having melted into night, the oranges and pinks of dusk blotted out by a sea of black, starlit holes punched in the cosmic canvas, awaken to find ourselves side-by-side, our hands holding each other’s, wrinkled fingers entwined, soft flesh replaced by hard bone, joints aching on contact, the arthritic reminders of age, our hair gray, as you take your last breath, and our bodies turn to dust, small granules to be swept away in a matter of moments.
But we didn’t, for we met only once, just briefly, at the coffee shop down the block, when I held the door open for you, and our eyes met for a second before I stepped out of the coffee shop, the door softly shutting behind you as you made your way to your seat, where you would sit reading Rabelais over a small cup of coffee, and I made my way down the street, off into the day, a day that held nothing but a momentary glimpse of what could have been.