We’re leaving for Morocco in just one week. In Arabic, I’m informed, Portugal (or “Bortugal”) means “orange.”
The flavor or the hue?
You must try getting up from the table
And sitting down relaxed in another country
Wearing red suspenders
Toward one’s own space and time.
After I was dead I lost my taste for raspberries. Other fruits, too, but raspberries stood out. We had stopped once to pick them on the side of the road in California but had been disappointed to find that the bushes had been picked clean. Probably by children and black bears. In just a few steps I watch those same bushes blossom, the hips of the flowers swell into round, green pockets and the soften—turning read, pulling on the branches until they dipped to the ground. Time has been smoothed the same way into a discrete, watery, orb—ready to burst, ready to drop, ready to be swallowed whole. Not, By Whom? Don’t. I have seen baskets of them grown and eaten and lost by now.
DF had a whole pint of them washed and waiting for me for our birthday dinner. How Was Your Walk? She asked as I sat down, exhausted, at the table. I immediately wished I hadn’t come. I’d rather be at home, asleep by now. But DF is insistent about maintaining birthdays and this isn’t the way to break her heart. She spoons the raspberries onto my plate and I know she means them to look velvety and decadent but they fall short. The plates are too large for that kind of richness and some of the drupelets are squared and leaking from travel. I push them around with my fork and they leave enviably fuchsia trails along the plate. I Wish I Could Puddle Like That. DF isn’t taking her fair share of the berries. It seems she wants me to eat them all—either because she likes the elegant pile or because she, too, has lost her taste for them.
DF has been dead six years and one month longer than I have and that fact we both remember. For our birthdays we go on like it never happened. Remember That Year I Wanted To Pay For Your Coffee For Your Birthday? I do. I wouldn’t let her. You Mean Your Last Year. Well, Look At You, All Doom And Gloom. She slipped a five dollar bill between the cup and the single-ply corrugated coffee sleeve and then failed to catch me when I tossed out the cup on our walk home. I’m still sick about the five dollars I accidentally threw out. I Still Want To Pay You Back, I plead. Forget It, It was Your Birthday! She says again. Well, I Want to Give You The Difference At Least. My coffee hadn’t been five dollars. On My Birthday. She tells me. I nod. The words seal the fruit like a toast and we begin to eat them solemnly.
I can leave once they’re gone, I think, and continue to pick them off. But once their gone DF tells me that there is still more. Much More. I have to contemplate the bloody mess on my plate until she is done with me. It’s the least I can do.