Unless otherwise attributed, all content, text or image, on this site is © TaunaLen 2005-2011.
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Monday, October 6, 2008

Questions

Prompt:  Tell me what you will miss when you die.

 

When I die, I will miss living, of course.  

But, when I die, I’ll still be alive.

Darn.

 

When I die, I will miss my loved ones. 

Wait. 

Loved ones wait for me, there, in that place called home, after this life.

Darn again.

 

When I die, I’ll miss chocolate, and coffee, and rain on my skin, the colors of a tree with dying leaves, orange, red, gold, brown.  I’ll miss the yellowed pages of my favorite book, the smell of ink as it flows from my pen.

 

But will I miss…anything, really? 

When I die, will life begin and be so very wonderful that I cannot miss the temporary pleasures that delight me here and now?

 

When I die, I will miss…

I am not sure this is a question I can answer.

 

There are too many questions:

 

When I die, will there be coffee shops, music, blank pages and plenty of ink?  Will the flame of a candle intrigue me, warm my fingers; will it inspire?

Will it rain, and snow, will the wind blow warm or cold on my freckled skin?

Will I have skin?

 

Will textures intrigue me, the feel of sandstone against my feet, the feathery ticklish experience of grass between my toes, the brush of soft, warm lips against my forehead?  When I die, will I mind that tapioca is gritty, and whiskers scratch my skin?  Will I hold a smooth stone in my hand and be comforted by its cool surface, or lean against the bark of a tree, and feel it press like knuckles into my shoulder.

 

Will there be trees?  I will miss trees---branches reaching, twisting, turning, arching overhead like a canopy in the summer, or clawing the sky like a bird in the winter. I wonder will I smell the pungent cedar, or trace the outline of an oak leaf with my eyes or my fingers.

 

When I die, I will miss sounds---dominoes clinking together on the kitchen table, my brother’s fingers on an old guitar.  The laughter of eight women around the kitchen table---all related, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces.  The click of a keyboard, the suckling, satisfied sounds of a nursing babe, the distinctive chirp of a cardinal in the tree in the back yard.

 

When I die, I may miss time.  The moments that count down on the clocks in my library, the gentle, rhythmic tick and tock that march down the road to sunset, sunrise, tomorrow and the day after.  I might miss time, as the minutes and hours and days of memory indicate my life, my loves, in this earth.  But, if this is just a countdown to something wonderful, when I’m there, what will time matter?

 

When I die…

 

When I die…

 

What if every wonderful thing I dearly love in this world is only a shadow of what I’ll discover in the next?  What if the best things come after death? 

How can I miss, when I do not know what is yet to be discovered.

 

This may be the question I cannot answer, this dying-missing-longing for something past-in the face of something future-thing.  The more I ponder, the more I find questions instead of answers. 

 

I fear I may have missed the point of the question.

 

And maybe that is answer enough.

 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I Remember

Raw Exercises in Memoir – from the book, Old Friend From Far Away

I Remember


I remember a bowl of fat tomatoes on a white countertop, smelling of summer, ripe and bright.  I remember the red kerchief on the head of the black mammy salt and pepper shakers in that same kitchen---a hundred salt and pepper shakers scattered around the room---that black mammy face with fat cherry lips and white smiling teeth.  I remember burgundy beets in a pint jar, the deep wine color of their juice staining my lips and my fingers as I ate just one, then just one more.  I remember ruby painted lips, licked then pressed against my face.  A kiss that I received a hundred thousand times or more, until the day she forgot that mine was a face for kissing, like she forgot so many other things.

 

I remember Amazing Grace, whistled through those red lips, hummed at the kitchen sink, or in the garden, bent over plucking those red tomatoes from the vine.  I remember the sound of water filling the sink, the clink of jars and plates, dishes washed and dried.  The refrigerator door opened, closed, opened, closed – putting everything away after an afternoon lunch.  I remember the shuffle of cards at the dining room table, a lazy Saturday-post-lunch afternoon, just the two of us.

 

I remember a table filled with small saucers and bowls, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, stuffed green peppers and cheese, salad, pork chops, bread on a plate, leftover macaroni and fried potatoes.  There were always brown beans and cornbread, and a raw onion cut into wedges.  


That table was everything from the fridge in Mimi’s kitchen, everything from Grandpa’s garden, laid out for three, or four, if my sister was there.  Lunch with canned peaches and graham crackers for dessert.  It seemed like so much work for such a simple meal, but she didn’t do things small, in the summertime, when grandchildren were in the house.  I miss those lunches.


 I remember the way Mimi used to eat cookies.  She’d dip one into her coffee and turn it this way, then that, letting the last drip fall back into the cup before bringing it to her mouth.  She’d nibble away the soggy edges, and dip again….turn, drip, turn, drip, repeating until the cookie was gone.  Then she’d reach to her shoulder, and brush the remaining crumbs from her fingertips on her shirt---every crumb, every cookie, every time.


It rained so much that spring that the streets were rivers, and even puddles on the corners or in the flower bed seemed like lakes you could lose a car in.  I remember falling asleep in the spare bedroom---the one with the wooden floors that were cold on my feet---listening to the sound of the thunder outside the window.  I remember hearing the story of how before I was born, Mimi was in the bathroom in the middle of the night.  An electrical storm raged outside.  I remember she swears she felt God telling her to pray, on the floor, kneeling there between the bathtub and the toilet. I remember being relieved, years later, as I listened, that she did too, because lightning struck that house, that room, where she was kneeling on the floor.  And if she hadn’t listened, the splintered wood and sheetrock might have been her.  But it wasn’t.


I remember dreaming that we were riding down the road in Grandpa’s car, he, of course was behind the wheel, easing into the edge of a puddle that stretched across the whole road.  I remember the feeling of sinking, deeper and deeper into that muddy water, until the whole car was swallowed beneath the surface---still sinking, sinking---and I was only a little afraid, because, after all, Grandpa was still driving.  I remember waking up, thinking I’d had this dream before, while thunder rattled the windows in that spare bedroom. 



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