Monday, August 5, 2013

you live, you learn

The water always works it's magic into my body. Early morning fog, heavy like grief - mayflies resting easily - the smell of slate rocks and dew. It's alchemy. It's medicinal. It's a balmy affair, sincere with understanding. There is never a trip to the lake that leaves me unsatisfied.

Can I say those things even if this trip was wrought with a dissonance so uncomfortable I had to shift my heart; stick my hand under my sternum and adjust that thing, slippery with pain? I think I can. The thing about magic is it's mysterious. And we can let it be.

Let me just tell you this: my cousin killed a snake. I begged him not to. Tried to reason with him. Please, you know? I said. I said, it doesn't make sense to kill for the sake of killing. That snake is hurting no one, that snake is just being a snake. Sitting in the water like we do. Sitting and resting like the mayflies. Sitting like this lake sits - peaceful and full of life and essential his surroundings.

My papa, with his wide brimmed hat to shade his nose from the sun, said he was an adult before he could give respect to life the way it deserves. He confided he used to kill birds. He used to kill birds with a gun to just kill birds with a gun. And, he continued, he wished he didn't. He has shame folded up and hidden in his back pocket. "We grow up," he reminded me.

He said he remembers when he used to hate gay people, too. More shame, more sadness. But we grow up, he said. We grow into love. We grow into understanding. Be gentle with him, he said. Be gentle with him, he'll grow.

The next morning, his friend at the dock died. Heart attack in his houseboat. His widow called my papa first - and we cried and cried. We sat with her while she shook and drank her coffee. My papa promised the dead man's wife that he will finish the eaves-trough on the starboard side - and he'll maintain the boat while she's away. We love you, he told her. We loved him, too. And together, drinking coffee in the quiet, sitting at a table that 4 hours before a dead man sat, we gave life the respect it deserves.

We grow up, you know? We grow into understanding and love. And, this now, I'm sure of.

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