Dia Del Muertos
The guests are insubstantial as horizon clouds, tetching and blinking
themselves towards visibility. They’re like toddlers: sullen and milk-sour after napping.
I’ve decorated every surface of the room with their curling photographs,
their cold poses — captured eyes. I’ve stewed tea, sliced pink salmon sandwiches
from softest, cloud-white bread. I invite them to sit — my holograms,
my dusty beloveds, whose heels hover stubbornly, inches over the vinyl flooring.
Lily-Rose strides to the window, surveys our late roses and the battalion
of cars that have settled now, nose to tail, by the street. She drips ash; she’s tangy, downy
with cold cream and cigarettes. And granddad’s hard as mica —
a wheezing rook in the TV corner, terse and muscled, almost fossil. He won’t speak,
but kaahs, his hat tipped over his nose. My other granddad is already off
in the backyard scrub, clearing the brambles, planting, letting his brown hands, his brown
mind, clear and blanken in the bracken and loam. I balance my cup of milky tea,
the rhythm of chink and hush, the scrape of saucers. Beside me, Charley and Marguerite
soak up the garden view: Isn’t the weather beautiful? I say. Isn’t this grand?
and how have you been? Caitlin, of course, is outside nursing a whisky Mac, studding the lawn
with her spiky heels, teasing next door’s roaring cat
with her gangly, see-through limbs. I want to ask them all what it’s like: to be only pixel
and decayed particle, only an actor in all of our imaginings.
But, of course, they’re pulse-less and placeless. Not actually here, but diffuse, distributed,
even in the moon’s gurning face, in the grinding of bus gears,
the first-light rustle of parakeets. Charley throbs out his greenish, beatific light, takes another
slice of almond cake. And Inga turns to me, shrugs her wan self out.
There’s smiling inside her distant, radio voice, and she speaks without moving her lips:
well, she says, you never expected this to be easy, did you?