Saturday, December 20, 2003

St. Harold's Day

Insomnia is stalking me. Stayed up too late again last night, accomplishing nothing, making lists. Finally fell asleep thinking about my grandfathers, doing incantations, visualizing their bodies changing from very old to....less old. To the way I best remember them.

Morning dream. My grandmother Julia stands weeping at a funeral. I don't know whose funeral it is, but people are standing around under a large, white tent. They mingle at the edge of what I assume is the grave. Green astroturf under foot. Atmosphere is part funeral, part outdoor wedding. People with pro-union placards (?) mill around the periphery. Friends of the deceased? My grandfather Tom is there, looking like his current, addled self. But he sees Julia, his wife, and is moved to improve. He totters toward her, and his face becomes less shrunken. His hair changes from white to charcoal grey. He embraces her and they begin to dance.

I sit up with a start. But I have been shaken to wakefulness by happiness, not fear.

Phone rings downstairs. I hear Adam talking, making his way upstairs to me, where I still sit in bed. Adam is saying, "I'm so sorry," and I know that my grandfather has died. But Tom was dancing. Who has died? Which grandfather?

We went to the movies. We went too early to the movies and so spent some time killing time in a pet shop before the show. Adam hollered for me to come see a tiny fish who was food for the others in his tank. They had bitten off the back half of the little guy, so he looked like an unfinished fish sketch—just a terrified head and fins. The fins beat insistently, as if to impel the front part of the fish free from his predators and from the trailing wound of his missing half. But the effort was doomed. Without his tail, the fish kept sinking, nose-first, to the tank's pebble floor.

We screamed at the other fish. Go get him! Finish him off! He's stuck and he's dying! But the other fish sailed blithely over the devastation below.

We went to the movies. We forgot ourselves and crying for two whole hours. We stared and blinked with absent smiles.

Harold. Sweet, saintly, Pop-pop Harold has gone. Tom remains.

Peace come. Peace come. Still waiting on peace.


At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my grandpa's name is Harold. that is weird.

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