Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ophelia Parsons’ Last Letter Home (posthumous)

Dear mother, I witnessed blue daffodils this morning outside the gray gates, and I wished to wash myself in them, as I would have wanted to, back then, when I knew you for sure. Dear. I stay mostly strapped to beds. Hospital beds, that is. These days have lost the tint of green. They smother me backwards, not like eyes at all. But I am wallowing beneath pillows so I will not wail. It might be that it seems poor of me to reach out for anything, now. Only you? Well, get me to stay asleep, and that’ll keep waking cats from flying. For me, here, the wallpaper is pleasant enough. Not like you used to say: “Worldly and wordy,” but still good. It escapes me, staying hidden, and I must work hard at relaxing, or, in the space of small, slow breaths, realize my capacity for calm. “Onward!” you say. That is a lively batch of luck you are amassing, I must admit. It does me less than good here. Children tend to the flower gardens as marigolds steal my name. A whale in a blue moon for you to drive by into the night, without me. Did you know that my driver’s license has lost its expiration date? Sentimental, mother, I keep it in my underwear drawer. Jostle. Hunch. That does it. Here. I’d give a diamond for your thoughts. I’ve been hamburgered to starch and bones, and have my moments of dullness, too. For a week I was invited to strangers’ kitchens for cat soup. I refused to behave cordially, and I sat alone in my room by the light of muted TV, and drank whiskey from tiny vases and sewed my thoughts together with curtained memories, mother, of the life I used to have, the one I lead for you. The veal of me is cut with grooming habits I cannot quite maintain. The road’s closed. I am browned with sugar substitutes. But do not worry, mother, I have my if-I-fall-in-love-it-will-be-forever moments, still. The lights? They have dimmed, yes, some. And sure, soup bowls fill my shelves without soup. Is there still an anyway to be had? Perhaps. And so I croon to coins about dollar-bill adventures. My sipping is not as noticeable as my dissipation. In the light of all this piano playing, I am sure as surely not praying around novices and cap-gun wielding foes. My escapism is bowdlerized yet dashing. It is all for the kids, here-- all of this. And walking on the beach late at night I light cigarettes by a fire pit’s still-hot scraps. Noticing me is not for the kind or the gentle or the manly. I am adjourning my life until my money spends me. Mother, take care. Why not? I will foot (or hand, or mouth) the bill. So, well, mother, zip on over in your ’62 Plymouth Valiant and take my temperature. Rusty smoke stacks puff my bad days away. From a window I can see the wine corks clogging the sewer drains; the smell is a slight compensation for my lack of guts. Mother, dream for me. The causes of cerebration are not as lonely as we once thought. What are the heights we once disappeared to? Where’s my pony? Mother, curses. It is cross. It is a taxi who won’t stop honking. It is the situation’s silver. The insects here are tattling on me. Wish off what I can’t escape. Barely unfit, I will hamper our looking. Mother, distress me if you will, but I cannot fund my own demise. The church doors of my mind’s safety have been blown. The colors of flamingos seek my beginnings. And so I plead with the owners for my right to an ordinary life; a light goes out. Vim kicks at my vigor’s pants. Be heavy with my flowerpot; dancing petals concern me more and more each afternoon; the creeping slowness of their motion is related to walking with more than just a limp. Mother, you notice such things. Mother, I might be losing this battle against my own willpower. Get the odds for me, if you can. The balcony will not hold me for much longer. Streets to steer clear of, yes-- that is what you will say, mother. Coddled for too long and not enough. Just hold the vinegar, and fill my toilet bowl with ballet. The bed bugs will rise to the occasion. And I will be shuttled off to where I won’t ever belong. Mother, there are no mistakes left to make. The ladies are no longer frightened of my goiter. I am being frank because I feel more like stormy weather, because I left you my Los Angeles Rams earrings, because I dote on Harpo Marx too much, because I am used to being used. Mother, this will be just one of none, many of a few, and the last of my firsts. Mother, the ocean’s braver than I. Get well soon. Best wishing. Part my hair with sorrow. I am all fished out. That is, lucky.