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A bird sings under glass, under canopy of green—such light and colors to float your life in, row, row, row yourself gently down the stream (grey day, leaves disengage: clog the gutters below) and outside, flower beds decompose, half-froze by snow. Inside the whirr of oscillation, orchids perfume the air and bring back my long dead grandmother, a vision in blue cat’s-eye spectacles near her icebox filled with square cakes for her granddaughters and the story she told over again and again: about her beloved older brother Gerard, who convinced her to jump from their garage roof, 1905 Greenwich Village, NY. And the story lit her face like sunrise and dialed her voice back to girlhood—soft and shy and awed—until she’d reach her punch lines: “And oh, if you could see me, so high above I could fly; Gerard taught me to fly!! She never mentioned if she hurt herself, never mentioned punishment from dad or mom. Gerard lived only two more years; dying at twelve. Grandma lived to be ninety-three and wore the fabric of that tale to a soft sheen with her retelling. Where does the past lie? In this glass house, the cycles keep cycling, the orchids bloom glorious in February. How long do we get to be seen? Here in the brook of flourish, silence: an orange carp marks time with small round o’s in the face of all that water.
Copyright 2020 Sharon Fagan McDermott