I’ve decided to re-open my blog The Practice of Goodness as the place where I post stories, poems, fragments, etc, keeping No Place for Sheep for politics and commentary. This piece to my late husband is the last of its kind I’ll post here.
Cabinet of Wonders
I dreamed I was walking through the park at the end of an autumn day. The tree shadows were long and the light golden. I saw you on the path in front of me, and hurried to catch up. Your hands were in the pockets of your jeans. You wore the dark purple sweater I knitted for you to keep out the cold you felt so keenly. The pattern was elaborate, it took months to finish, and you marvelled that my hands, with wool and needles, wove for you enduring warmth.
My wife made this, you told people.
Sometimes you would cradle my face in your hands and look at me and say, my wife.
When I caught up with you I slipped my hand into your pocket to touch yours. You turned your head and your look was quizzical. I saw the man I thought was you, wasn’t. The difference was barely discernible, but it was there. Shaken, I pulled my hand out of your pocket. We kept walking side by side, in silence.
We came to a bandstand, painted white with green trim, and hung with paper lanterns. Silent still, we walked up three wooden steps to the platform. We stayed there for some time, leaning on the railing, watching park life. I started to cry. You gazed at me then you pointed to a small house with double doors, off to the right, whose windows top and bottom looked to be filled with hand-carved toys, painted silks, and the mysterious devices of starlit sorcery. A cabinet of wonders, I thought. Our hearts.
You started down the bandstand steps. I cried harder. You looked back at me and smiled and pointed again to the house. I was to go with you there, I believed.
I could barely see for weeping as I stumbled down the wooden steps and followed you. But I was far behind and you forged ahead and I knew I wouldn’t catch up.
That moment in time, between when I put my hand in your pocket and when I realised the man I thought was you was not, has now settled deep in the cradle of my belly, where it has taken on the qualities of eternity.
I watched as you looked back and raised your goodbye hand. I watched as you disappeared into the cabinet of wonders. I watched as its doors closed behind you and I did not try to follow.
Awake, I know again that you are dead, and there is not one part of me that does not grieve you.
Wife. Time. Eternity. Wonders. The mysterious devices of starlit sorcery. Come back, and I will throw my arms around you.