Dearfew, he tells me, means Curfew For Your Dear Ones.
Oh, I admit. A Dearfew. But I won’t let him play the word. It’s raining, we’re below ground, outside you can smell the river.
She Will Miss You, I mention. By now he is eating my melon, balancing wet feet on top of wet sneakers, and I am looking up to the street.
Will You Miss Me? he asks.
I want to stay underground, sheltered together. I wonder if there are any large stones left over from Easter to roll over the door. I already cried for so long about it last night and yesterday morning and before that when I got home from Nora’s. I am angry that she’s broken the news to me but not at her and not at him. So I drank too much over fennel cupcakes and tamales. My bike slid and tipped. I Didn’t Drink That Much, I remind myself, toppling in psychosomatic rigor. But I can’t stop swerving. I can’t hear the street. If a car comes up behind me I won’t be able to move. It will surely hit me: merely incidental. I do make it home.
How do I answer him? He has become a shivering, distant, play tree. Every once in a while a set change brings him back and I wonder when he’ll be folded over again for storage. I cannot follow or predict the plot. I don’t know what acts he’ll show up for. Just sometimes he comes back to read a book and say hello, tell me six or seven stories, show me photos. Go. Except, this is no drama and when he goes, nothing takes his place.
I asked Anne Carson and she told me, once and for all:
You can write on a wall with a fish heart, it’s because of the phosphorus. They eat it. There are shacks like that down along the river. I am writing this to be as wrong as possible to you. Replace the door when you leave, it says. Now you tell me how wrong that is, how long it glows. Tell me.
And I mean it, too. But Greek breakfast yielded no spare fish hearts. I’ll give it to you in invisible inks instead:
I love you. Don’t go.
I asked you what the organs are for. One by one. The gallbladder. The pancreas. The spleen. And you said. Stores Bile. Gives You Cancer. Makes Blood, no– Bone Marrow Makes Blood But Something With The Blood.
I give you everything I know in return. Nothing. Patrick Swayze. You Can Live Without A Spleen. (A fact I know only because someone else in my life failed to.)
Just an hour later I know more about what those organs do. They swim to the top of my body and clamor, begging you. They are the lesser begging organs.
Please don’t go. Please. And close the door behind you when you do.
I’ll Say Hello To My Mom For You. He says before we go.
And Your Sister. By which I mean, please have them both say hello to you for me, if you are anywhere at all when you are not here.
Please don’t get me wrong. I want you to have yourself. I asked her, again, for you and she said:
On Major and Minor
Major things are wind, evil, a good fighting horse, prepositions, inexhaustible love, the way people choose their king. Minor things include dirt, the names of schools of philosophy, mood and not having mood, the correct time. There are more major things than minor things overall, yet there are more minor things than I have written here, but it is disheartening to list them. When I think of you reading this, I do not want you to be taken captive, separated by a wire mesh lined with glass from your life itself, like some Elektra.
You know I can only offer you prepositions and inexhaustible love. And those are good wherever you are. For you, I hope, life will be less tragic. Who needs another Atlantis?
Maybe, in many years, I’ll remember that he used to come for a while. During those times: every night I expected him to turn to me and say I Have To Go Home, I’m Late. But night after night he wouldn’t. Until one when I hear, from someone else, that the time has come. He Has To Go. He’s Late. I am heartbroken but knew, of course, that he always had a Dearfew.