A thousand kisses deep–

She lives a thousand leagues under the sea at a place called Fountain Crest, it’s an assisted living facility, a rest home, an old folks home, a murky place at the bottom of the sea.  Above the surface life goes on with its bright lights and people racing around here to there, darting back and forth like a flock of frenzied seagulls scavenging through another days accumulation of garbage.  Up there time is cheap, everyone is preoccupied with getting their share as they squabble and fight, wearing out another precious moment, like tiny air bubbles under pressure, each moment bursts and then quietly disappears.

I drift past all the deep sea inhabitants who stare back at me with big exaggerated eyes behind thick fish eye lenses.  They wear homesick eyes like a child dropped off on the first day of school— lost watery eyes left wondering, “What am I doing here”, “Are they coming back for me”, “How will I ever get home again”.  They breath slowly, swaying in the invisible currents, circling aimlessly, going nowhere in particular.  Hands gripping railings, hands holding onto walkers, fingers strumming on a table in time with an old song no one else can hear.  Perhaps its The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington or maybe Count Basie.  The big dance hall echoes with brassy swing music blaring and everyone is dancing beneath a canopy of blue and red colored lights.  Men in dark pressed suits hold women in multi colored party dresses as they flow in unison across a mahogany wood-floor. It’s a Monet in slow motion, couples glide in rhythm with the ebb and flow of jazz music.  She is in love for the first time and no one, not even time itself will take this memory from her—-these days memories and reality swim together.

In the recreation room residents are sitting playing dominos while others stare at the big screen TV.  Some sit solo, silently staring out the window into an empty patio with its neatly kept flower gardens. There eyes go through a series of mixed emotions as they question my presence here.  I am a stranger under their waves of isolation and at first the eyes of the occupants gaze at me with an air of curiosity.   Next comes a stare of surprise, “Is someone sick?”.  Then fear, “Has another one passed away last night?”.  Then comes envy, “Look, she has a visitor”.  And finally thankfulness, “Isn’t that nice, someone has made that long dive—–a thousand kisses deep.”

I no longer look into their faces, at this depth they all begin to look the same.  I watch their hands.  Each set of hands tell their own story.  Swollen wrists, knuckles deformed and twisted, age spots, yellowed nails, blue broken veins, tentacles gripping on to little pieces of life, or what is still left of one.  These are the hands that cradled new-born babies, that reassured a scared child in the dark, caressed the fevered brow of the sick, hands that prepared home cooked meals, washed floors, dishes and folded untold loads of laundry, hands that once wielded a hammer to build homes and dreams, fixed what needed fixed, protected what needed protected, hands that played piano in churches and bars, hands that teased, tickled and pleasured a lover, hands that planted roses and canned peaches, hands that money fell through, hands worn callused by physical labor, hands once clinched into fists of anger, hands clasped together in prayer for mercy and grace, hands that composed love letters, baked birthday cakes, taught life lessons, wiped tears away, hands that then as well as now, still reach out towards life.  If eyes are the mirror of the soul, then I believe hands are a reflection of the heart.

We take her for a drive to visit family members.  We share food and reminisce about the old days.  There is much laughter as we recall funny stories from the past.  We fondly remember those that have passed and reaffirm how they shaped and contributed to the family.  Photos are proudly passed around and stories shared about the “going on’s” of our younger ones.   Claudia has a new job, Chris a promotion, Victor’s graduation, Haley’s skiing, Amelia is walking.   Today is golden, for the briefest of moments time stands still for us—-we feel everything—–we can feel one another—-it’s always in the littlest of things that the sacredness of love is shared.

Back at her place beneath the waves, we have a seat at a table in the dinning area.  It’s late November and a drizzle of rain falls from the evening sky.  There is no longer any need for conversation as we sit staring out at the receding sun and silently hold hands.

13 O’clock

She told me once, we’re all breathing dead stars, stardust, dark matter, remnants of burned out light, frozen screams consumed within the singularity of a black-hole.  She inhaled and then exhaled, “You must breath in deeply, because this is where beauty reigns supreme.  Life, love and beauty exists between each breath we take.  Right in that briefest of moments when you are no longer breathing, this is where time is suspended, where life and death exist in unison.  Sunrises are here and then gone, just like you, and just like me.”   This was her celestial “Dear John Letter”.  Like most of the shit that came out of her mouth, it would at first intrigue me and then piss me off. It could never be a simple goodbye with her. No, she shrouded her surrogate love in crazy talk. 

She’s french and knows much about jazz, mediation, paints, mixes her own colors, creates light, smiles at me and laughs at the world, all the time, for no reason.  Like a child’s daydream she keeps my heart in a snow-globe at her bedside——she shakes my world leaving me lost in a blizzard of colors and emotions——there is “the world’ and then there is “her world” and you are either in it, or you’re not.They say everything happens for a reason, if that’s true, then that kiss she once gave me was a letter incorrectly addressed, mailed without a stamp, delivered to a generic “resident”—(me)—, cause now she’s gone, leaving me soulless like a corpse rotting in its cold dark grave———–if you choose to believe in such things—-love and death that is.

But you can’t get it back now, your kiss—now only my kiss (in retrospect, a one-sided kiss), cause I figure you’ve forgotten all about it——just another tombstone in your cemetery heart.  I’ve been in your bed, lost my “self” in your room of mirrors with its cob webs, floating specters, broken clocks, and that black cat leading me into your dungeon of pleasure and pain.  So these words I send off to you are a curse, a spell cast by a zombie searching for the one who ate his heart and raped his soul.

Words set aside in a poem, prayer or letter are inescapable.  They aren’t like a song you can idly hum along with or mindlessly mouth every other word that you think the lyric is or might be—-or maybe what you willed them to be.  Words are more like a haunting melody that forces itself into your head and then attaches itself to your wavering sanity.  That frightening place where reality and madness fight for expression. What is reality anyway? Questioning reality is the first step towards madness or its crippled stepbrother “wisdom”.

And in time, my words will devour who you are or who you thought you might have been.  I’ll force feed you my words until you choke on them, because my words have teeth and claws, that at first french kiss the mouth and then become fangs that bite the neck and then drink the blood. Some kisses give life, others rob the very light that sustains life.

She fooled me—–I was sadly mistaken about that kiss she left on my mouth.  It wasn’t a kiss after all, it was a sucker punch, the bite from a black-widow, a soul siphon——she’s my lil demon, always taking more than she intends to give.  Tell me this, why is the forbidden fruit always so sweet?

And all the rest is way beyond words.