(after Nancy Kiefer)
Everywhere she followed her. Everywhere she went she was already there preceding her, awaiting her, reminding her, creating and remaking her again as if she had not been before.
Every place she followed her she was already there, as always, also after she was gone, especially after she was gone, and always she was gone or she was going, even from the start, especially then.
Everything begins with someone leaving. Nothing starts without it, it is always there, the ending even as it starts, it starts because it ends.
She started far away but she got close, well closer, not as far, enough to see and when she saw she wanted, she wanted to say but didn’t then, she knew she didn’t know exactly what, and that in any event she had to go away. She went away to leave to give her time and to remember. She remembered all the time and times and what would not remember she imagined. She imagined all so long and hard, so true and yes and earnestly that when she went back there again, to her, and said to her, the thing she said was true. The thing was true and then she heard and she said yes, she said it too and so and then they did.
All of that went on like that for a while.
But then something happened, she sent her away. She went away reluctantly and frankly not entirely for she remembered her almost as if she followed her. As if she followed everywhere.
As if she followed everywhere, on hill and dale and over the moon and over the river and through the woods and like a golden thread, her golden thread, the one that led to everything, to everywhere to the ends of the earth to long ago to far away and everywhere forever.
Well, for as long as she could as long as she stayed alive. But what about after that, she wondered sometimes, less now than when she was young, as so many things now less now than when she was young, What about after she was alive? Would she be there then? Would she let her stay then? Would they stay there together then? Would she, maybe, finally then?
Maybe that was to hope for, maybe then.
The other one never left her house. She never left her mother or the way she was or what she said, how she pretended, or had to pretend, or so she said, for she couldn’t or wouldn’t, whatever, amounts to the goddamn same, (and here she was getting bitter, she could hear it in her voice), in any event whatever or not she did not leave.
It broke her heart. She broke her heart.
She followed the pieces everywhere, she tried to imagine ways put them back together as if one could, similarly, to put the two of them back together, to make them, or it, the heart or whatever the way it was, they were, back together the way it was.
No, she didn’t. Not really. Not the way she would have if she had really wanted to. What she imagined was making them differently, then, it, sort of what had been but really actually something that never was, something that only she imagined, had imagined, even back then, even back then before, desired, dreamt of, whatever. It made her; she made her. Because or maybe she didn’t actually really—really—want to for rather what she wanted was maybe to look at what if forever, for her life, both the duration and the quality of it, imagining, remembering, as if holding, as if holding on to, as if turning over and over to feel the various edges, the sharp and the smooth, the jagged and rough, the
Knobbled and glassy, the hard soft sticky wet bony etc. over and over as if like a nervous tic a mark a sign a thing determining. As if fate, as if something grand, a tremendous contrast of dark and light, as if a thing seen from afar, imagined from afar, etc., over and over in her hands as if a washing a dying, a branding, a—no, not that, it’s too trendy (tattooing), rather an emblazoning, though that might be too trendy too, what with all the
scarification etc. going on these days in our young urban formerly suburban “indie” populations, but I take my image from further back, from our great post-Puritan heritage: like, this is to say, the minister’s veil, the scarlet letter, as if in shame but in fact, really, sort of, a kind of reverse snobbism kind of pride, though with hints or aftertastes of the
cheesy, as in “Wanna see my scar?” (LBJ, 196__ after his surgery, a continued embarrassment, all these decades later to all right thinking people from Texas), a marker of passion, of, to quote the young people today, “intensity.”
She was ashamed of this but did it anyway. Couldn’t seem to help it! Oh probably she could. Probably she just didn’t try hard enough. Probably didn’t want to. She turned over and over and felt again the various textures of that which marked, or she desired to mark, her, to live with forever what had made her, what had created, by not turning out how she wanted, her.
Who would she be were she not that?
Who she would never be.
The breaking was also a breaking forth, an opening, a break into, in ways she would not understand for years, the life she’d make remembering as if.
Rebecca Brown is the author of eleven books including Woman In Ill-Fitting Wig (www.pistilbooks.net), a collaboration with Nancy Kiefer, part of which appeared in Tarpaulin Sky. She has also written a play, the libretto for a dance opera and many other things. She is currently involved in ongoing projects involving altered texts, literary theft and the visual arts. She is Creative Director of Literature at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA (www.centrum.org) and teaches in the MFA program at Goddard College in Vermont, and elsewhere.