Tuesday, April 29, 2014


"The ocean", he says at 5 A.M., "I need to see the ocean". He speaks feverishly about friends near Nice, a balcony overlooking the Baie des Anges and misty summer nights under shallow rain clouds. Maybe it's the left-over fumes from yesterday's dose of opiates that cause him to trip across the words or maybe it's just the belated materialization of that chronic need to escape.

He gets up, his naked shoulders are ivory in the pale glow from the streetlights outside. He digs frantically through piles of papers and magazines looking for seasonal time tables (always trains, never airplanes), then stops abruptly, turning his sylphic silhouette towards me. The little I wear is smoke to his hands, his tongue lighter than a feather between my legs.  

It's the end of April and already unbearably warm. I can't imagine lasting an entire summer.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

In spirit, if nothing else

Two years in I still spend hours awake by his heartbeats, guarding them as though they were secrets or irreplaceable artifacts from another century. I fear that if I close my eyes for too long they will fade or disappear altogether, much like cherry blossoms at the height of spring. It happened before to people much more in love than us.

The mother haunts our little intrigues with her absence, I count days upon days and gather evidence of her existence from photo albums and discolored postcards. She speaks to the both of them but in separate paragraphs like chapters in a novel, written as correspondence and therefore hopelessly fragmented.

And still, as he leads me through webs of graphite shadows cast by cedar trees that frame our silence, April seems to end the way it started. Pictures turn to memories and suddenly they're forgotten, as if none of it ever really happened.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Judging from the awkwardly strained anticipation in the air here (Henry smoking two cigarettes at a time, his sister trying out cardigans in ever so slightly different shades of beige) you would think that Hannibal was crossing the Alps on his elephant. With a build-up like this, written in bold capital letters in-between the lines, things can only end in disappointment.

To be continued.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"What I'm certain of [...], what I saw so clearly through that window, is that I never want to put a child into this world."

Mother's own words from an entry in her diary, dated November 24, 1978. I guess I should be heartbroken about it but the truth is I've always felt the same way. Life is more than a blessing, it's a death sentence without the right to appeal. She was strong for me all those years in the beginning so now I fight to keep from letting whatever happened after that overshadow the sacrifices she must have made just to survive.


My French is improving, Henry compliments me on the way I review other Americans when we sit down for coffee somewhere (their accents, their mundane clothes, what trivialities they discuss). "What's your mother like" I ask him. He giggles nervously, like a little girl, clumsily playing with his cigarette lighter until he drops it on the stone paving.

"Didn't I tell you", he says, his voice trembling the way still waters do when it rains. "She's in Paris, I'm sure you'll meet her soon."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A tell-tale heart

Our last spring still sounds like an unfinished overture. We planted a peach seed near our summer house but mother refused to go back and I never got to see it blossom. I've come to judge her by these last ten years of indifference but when I do I forget that once, before the transitions and the storms, she was good to me.

It was only afterwards that I found her diary, I wasn't supposed to but I'm glad that I did because it helped me understand. She wrote about escaping and finding peace after the snowfalls, about redemption and about T (my father). He named me but wouldn't tell me what it meant when I asked him, mother is the only one that knows and she keeps his secret like a promise beyond the apocalypse.

When I browse through the jackets in her closet now I'm reminded of the light summer dresses and the sunset on the balcony and if I listen closely I can still hear the sound of her infectious laughter echoing through the seasons.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Mother in her delicate florals on the terrace, summer night winds in her eumelanin bird's-nest hair. How she turns to me and smiles, the image of her effortlessness forever captured like a snapshot in my mind. I know it's Los Angeles vibrating deep in the background, the smell of lavender and red wine and the blue of the ocean.

And years later, how I watch her as she tears her light summer dresses to shreds, leaving them slaughtered and scattered across the floors for me to mourn. These images are harsh, unfiltered and saturated, but maybe it's just the way I want to remember things.

The girl on the terrace became an orphan when everything changed. The woman she called mother is another today, unrecognizable but still a mother. She has qualities too but the light is different, her hair heavier, the way she used to smile a childish fantasy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I was born in September at the breaking point between summer and fall, that time of year when life decelerates and the things that used to grow begin their slow decay. My earliest memories are of mother, romantically filtered through the lens of a Polaroid camera. In my mind they're just images, exposed to too much sunlight and therefore unrealistically pallid. None of it really happened, at least not to us.

Henry sits by the window in the kitchen, the color of the sky turns from celeste to navy to black as I watch him in rigid silence. I ask him what he thinks it means to be happy, if he still remembers what it felt like.

Seasons shift outside, the weight of this world seems unbearable and never in my life have I felt so desperately sad. Happiness, he says, is a fairy tale and it breaks as easily as a butterfly's wings.