What was it like before the doctor got there? Till then, we were in the back seat of the warm dark bubble of the old Buick. We were where we'd never not been, no matter where we were. And when the doctor got there? Everything outside was in a rage of wind and sleet, we were children, brothers, safe in the back seat, for once not fighting, just listening, watching the storm. Weren't you afraid that something bad might happen? Our father held the wheel with just two fingers even though the car skidded and fishtailed and the chains clanged raggedly over ice and asphalt. Weren't you afraid at all? Dad sang for someone to fly him to the moon, to let him play among the stars, while Mom held up the lighter to another Marlboro. But when the doctor started speaking. . . The tip of the Marlboro was a bright red star. Her lips pursed and she released a ring of Saturn, which dissolved as we caught at it, as my dad sang Mars. When you realized what the doctor was saying. . . They were closer to the storm in the front seat. The high beams, weak as steam against the walled swirling, only illuminated what we couldn't see. When he described it, the tumor in the brain and what it meant. . . See, we were children. Then we weren't. Or my brother wasn't. He was driving now, he gripped the steering wheel with both hands and stared hard at the panicked wipers. What did you feel? Just sleet, the slick road, the car going way too fast, no brother beside me in the back seat, no singing father, no mother, no ring of Saturn to catch at as it floats.
Alan Shapiro - 1952-
It may not be the ghostly ballet of our avoidances that they’ll remember, nor the long sulks of those last months, nor the voices chilly with all the anger we were careful mostly not to show in front of them, nor anything at all that made our choice to live apart seem to us both not only unavoidable but good, but just. No, what I think will haunt them is precisely what we’ve chosen to forget: those too infrequent (though even toward the end still possible) moments when, the children upstairs, the dinner cooking, one of us would all at once start humming an old tune and we’d dance, as if we did so always, in a swoon of gliding all through the house, across the kitchen, down the hall and back, we’d sway together, we’d twirl, we’d dip and cha- cha and the children would hear us and be helpless not to come running down to burrow in between us, into the center of the dance that now, I think, will haunt them for the very joy itself, for joy that was for them, for all of us together, something better than joy, and yet for you and me, ourselves, alone, apart, still not enough.