“lunations” (from memoir “whitegirrrl”) short chapter

You stand there looking at the sky from the windows in your house, hoping to see something eclipse but there is too much rain over the city.  The moon has pulled something feminine from you and now it runs watery red like a river.  That’s how strong the force is or how much it affects you.

This is a year where things halt.

It’s a year where you will make decisions about how to proceed into endings and beginnings.

There is a river of red between your thighs where you wanted something that you weren’t going to be allowed to have because they didn’t want you too.  There is a river of roses between your thighs where bouquets and kisses were dropped off like so many gestures of false intent.

* * *

“My mother cut him off at the pass,” your mother says.  She’s never liked her mother, with all those formal pearls and bottles of perfume and trips to Europe with valises and trunks.

“She wanted to destroy my father.”

It’s this love she has for him because he is kind and full of the expression “swell.”  Everything is swell, all the time, and most of the time it is never real because nobody ever tells each other the absolute truth.  It’s a kind of rule your family has.  Like a window where you look through frosted glass at each other.  You can make out the outlines of things only.  The shapes are all there, and the muted colors — but it’s like a permafrost that never thaws over meanings.

“Mom, can you teach me to drive?”

You’re asking her because all your friends are learning how and you are fifteen and they are all going to be getting cars pretty soon.  It’s like a freedom that you want so badly, and you’ve taken driver’s education, and so it is only a matter of practicing like the rest of them are.

“No,” she says.

It’s your grandfather who takes you in his long blue Mercedes.

“Let’s see if we can do 90.”

The road blurs on the way to San Simeon as the two of you cut through space in his car.

“Honeybunch,” you can come and live with us if you want, ” he says.  “You’d like it better up here.”

What he means is that he doesn’t approve of the life your mother is leading.  Or your grandmother doesn’t.  She fills your mind with sentences about a word called “ladylike.”  This is something you are supposed to aspire to, and it is something she has mastered with her brooches and hats and her pocketbooks.

It’s something she imparts to you in doses over summers that you spend there with them.

* * *

You never expected you would marry someone as cold as your grandmother.  But you did.  Years later you think about the ways that he cut you off at the pass, and you’re like your grandfather, full of love and full of heart and full of life and funny little scribbled drawings like the ones he used to make on napkins in restaurants that kept you amused in childhood while the other adults got drunk and began to hurl mean words at each other.

It’s going to be Christmas in a few days.

You were looking for the moon last night, and you were wrapped in the loneliness that you feel as if it is a kind of blanket.

You were looking for the moon and you found it in your lover’s arms, or in his eyes.

You step backwards through looking glasses into the past in order to see how you mapped your way out before.  There were other times you left things.  There were doors you walked through and you never looked back.  You never looked back because you didn’t want to see the expressions.

Your breath frosts the glass of the windows as you draw little shapes.  There are hearts, but you erase them, watching raindrops fall.  The garden is full of rainwater.  It rolls off the lemons and the oranges and lifts the new grass of freshest green like a carpet of spring in the wrong season because it’s still too cold.  The snows come later in February and March and you know this because you watch as it dusts the mountaintops before you, and you have watched every year, in good years and bad years and years where you were laughing or years where you were silent like this one.  The chasm between the two of you is too great to say anything.

White girls are taught to be ladylike.

There is fresh grass on the mountain and you are going to be able to roll there in the spring.  There will be a meadow full of wildflowers and the moon will come up and the sun will go down and somebody you have fallen in love with is going to be there, too.  The two of you will live in a house where there will always be Christmas and bright fires and little candles gleaming and you will never let each other get cold down into bone.

Your grandmother didn’t like your mother’s freedom.

She didn’t like your mother’s boyfriends, after your father left.

You stand at the window between the two of them now, and they are ghosts, this mother and this grandmother.  You think to yourself how both of them are part of your history and that their moons float in your veins like lunations, and so do their moods.

There’s this wild kiss you can have, listening to jazz, where the sheets get so tangled and the windows get so fogged that the two of you just laugh afterward because you have both been there so many times before with others. only now it’s imperative because you never want to have to be this alone again ever, and you are freshfully free and able.

There are meadows filled with wildflowers where you run like fifteen as if you can remake things all over again because why should anybody really have to ever be sad?

There’s this ring on your finger and it’s round like the moon that you swallowed like a wafer.


“lunations” — copyright 2010 — by Valentine Bonnaire — all rights reserved




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