“C’est payé, balayé, oublié…
(It’s paid for, removed, forgotten…)”
~ Je Ne Regrette Rien
On Sunday, the seventh anniversary of his death, she will walk to the Delaware river, light candles, set a little cup of flowers adrift.
Wasn’t this where they dredged for his body, brought it ashore, pockets empty of identification, cleaned-out car found a week later, many parking lots away?
When I first spoke to her on the phone some years after not knowing where she had gone, I heard Gounod playing in the background.
Rain or sleet rattled on the windows; water knocked discordant symphonies against the ancient plumbing.
The years have brought no balm for me, she says; all work is sublimated grief.
I get postcards from her whenever she travels, which is often; a blanket woven from yak hair in Tibet, where she has gone to start a school for women; inks and polished bone.
Jars of grey-tinted salt from France, sun-dried tomatoes from Italy, a tooled leather folder from a workshop in the city where Dante was born.
Just this morning I was explaining allegory to my daughter: the meaning of the wood, the threshold of the crater lake, the circles upon circles of souls; the way station, the bus stop, the climb out again in search of heaven and the muse…
But always, at this time of year, my friend who has been abroad so much circles back, returns.
There is nothing I really want now for myself from this world, she writes on hotel stationery in Amsterdam, or New York, or overlooking a marbled plaza where pigeons descend to fight for bread that tourists have thrown.
Sometimes I wish to just quietly go away.
In my mind, I listen for the plink of coins in the fountains’ shallow basins: their bronze arc in the air, their weight in impossible wishes softened by a film of green moss covering the stones.