As you walked toward your mother’s rose gold coffin, the Arizona air made me want to wrap you in a delta blanket and feed you homegrown tomatoes. Blow kisses on your belly like your father. Rest your head in my lap during those humid tent revivals. Tousle your hair.
Your mother’s coffin could have been laid by ancient Egyptians. A glowing brick set against dusty stones, an azure sky – trees and shrubs, expert at the rhythms of carrying and releasing water. The cacti made me want to be a child with you and thresh mustard seeds in your grandmother’s tub. It’s true – I would likely induce fright because I have never not known how to be forward. But, we would have had fun – jumping off the fence post to grab the rope, swinging and aiming for Pyrex bottles lined on the ground – and you, running away in silence because you hadn’t met a girl like me before.
Let our marriage be the scent of turpentine, so you may breathe the earliest memory when your mother said God loved you, and there was nothing you could ever do to change that. Let me be the penny candy in your pocket – warm and sweet, pressed to your clothes, stuck on your lips.
You dug soil from Petit Jean Mountain – weary at the thought of gravel echoing on your mother’s coffin – a fertile piece of home cast with desert death ecology on Maundy Thursday.
We decided years ago not to have children of our own. You bless your mother. You bless us. You remove your collar on the way to the restaurant. May each gesture be a child in each other’s arms, reaching out to the other – helpless, shaking, shiny and new – look at this love we are making. Buried in our bodies is a peculiar hope. One day I’ll be a seashell or part of a crab, and you will be a berry fed on the sunshine your people knew how to harness.