By Basil Rosa
The burn that is time, how it changes, lifts, empowers and forgives.
Simmering with her, flash after flash filling the sky over his valley, she buckles and creaks and sways with him. He remembers her falling against the best he could offer, the princely stir of his young bones.
She’d said, Hold me tighter, visit these caves within me. Discover what guides my Indians. Let me be, please, because the others, they won’t. If you love me, you’ll let me be.
He remembers holding her in a plague of nightmares. It was her sky that night, her valley home.
So much of her haunts him – the way her eyes filled with lightning at twilight. The way crickets rose in her sheets when she chirped against him. Winter carving them down to skeletal stillness. Spring swells, flood after flood, into their loins.
The times she leaned on him as if he was a staff. A biblical scope to epic tales they imagined together lost in silences found while watching the horizon alter.
Alone now, making the arrangements in his head, his eyes ease down a far slope to a blanket of green unrolling to the next line of spare hills, down a cow path sodden with hoof prints and manure. Through a gate, creaking. Silent line of shadow from a passing hawk. A few crows squawking into panic, fleeing their brown pasture edges.
He seldom knows deer are close until they flee, scenting him first, and this time is no different. How the doe faces him on the path. Young, it’s never been hunted. He faces the doe the way he faced her in the early days of their courtship, both of them in all innocence ready for winter to ice away evening soul in their eyes.
Lovers they were, and lovers they’d remain. Hadn’t a clue she’d be the one taken first, who’d eventually say enough, please, let the doctors set me free.
He lifts the rifle, holds the doe in its sight, recalling the way she held him, shivering in drafts from that window. Flickering rain pelting their tin roof.
I’m here, yes, this does seem a nightmare. But it will end.
Her quiet acceptance, his recalcitrance – dewy cheeks against his beard. What were these memories trying to teach?
He lowers the rifle. The doe bounds away. He hears her again: I have to let you go.
He raises the rifle. She told him one day he’d know pain was good, and necessary . Love is not an incomplete recipe of expectations, impatience, folly and lust. It’s so much simpler than that.
She kept his picture from when he was just a boy. He’d always be a boy.
He squeezes the trigger.
Copyright ©2011 Basil Rosa. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
Basil Rosa is the pen name of John Flynn, who has published books of poetry, short stories, and translations from the Romanian of Nicolae Dabija. John's first novel, Heaven Is A City Where Your Language Isn't Spoken, is forthcoming this fall, 2011, from Cervena Barva Press. To read more of John's published work, please vist his web site at www.basilrosa.com.