Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Muscato Mothers (for Chris)

"I have the hiccups, mom."

"Come here. Now, look in my eyes, straight into them."

(Hiccup.)

"Now you MUST hiccup while you are staring at me. Come on, I dare you."

Silence. The hiccups have been conjured from whence they came.

That is the way she rolls, smooth and cool and seemingly untouchable--with an intoxicating twinkle in her eyes. I want to kneel at her feet as before Hillel. From her--there are always further revelations.

We take another sip into our conversation, punctuated by belly-laughter. There are a more than a few miles between us. We have untangled, then rolled up skein after skein of one another's tears, aches and secrets and then stored them securely in the cupboard of friendship.

How many years, how many generations has she been gathering under her wings? By my count, this is the third. Does she remember the time her son set himself on fire, entirely by accident? Or when the snow fort collapsed with everyone inside? The children she could not refuse to take, the ones she saved, the ones she could not? The baby girl, born addicted, now wiser than a Shaker spindle? Documents, she says--you taught me to be a pit-bull with the paperwork.

Did I remember the time my son recited video game and Lego statistics for an hour? Or when she said, "Maybe you shouldn't." "Yes, you must." And I did both? The three boys who learned how to become, who found their voices because of our stubborn-ness and mad patience? It is always about the children. No, it isn't. It's about all of us as a piece, inseparable, mother-and-son-and-daughter-packages.

What about our daughters, who--separately-- stepped out into the nights to think, and returned with their minds on fire, their destinies in sight, rocket-ready? How glad we are that they are smarter than us!

She is contemplating the option of poison: odorless, tasteless, painless. To make him go away. Should I mention Roald Dahl's story about the landlady and the cup of bitter almonds?

Here is where we are most deeply sisters: we are both love-monsters. We, the ignored, the underestimated, have repeatedly given more than our all, worked, schemed, planned, trudged, saved--until so much pent-up love has been stored up in us that we've become the Niagra Falls of abundant affection. Who could possibly handle either of us?

"I'm serious," she says. "About that poison."

Ah, Muscato, why are you not grappa? We are in need of a more potent potion, now!--but the topic rolls around. Mellowed by companionship, we remain enmeshed in the process of distillation.

By tomorrow, we should be nearly as heady as rakija.

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