I lived with my grandfather for two years in Lyon, France.  We lived along the river Rhône in a small apartment on the fourth story of a quaint building.  I shared my small bedroom with my grandfather’s dog – Cherché.  I gave him that absurd nickname when I was only four years old, and it stuck.  From my bedroom window, I had a perfect view of the river. The apartment was always cold, and it always smelled like coffee and his tobacco.  It was my home for two years, and I have only fond memories of the place.

 

Je ne sais pas pourquoi, le troisième

Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais j’adore…

I do not know why, but I love..

Black and white prints; old hard covered novels; strawberries; clawfoot bathtubs; nicknames; rope bridges; brown paper bags; freckles; large Russian carpets; ripples; baby’s breath flowers; windows; ballet; the word “ribbons”; oil paintings; teacups; kaleidoscopes; watercolors; pianos; sand dunes; the sound of a train; the sound a typewriter makes; crates of fruit; jars; and so much more.

 

Painfully Beautiful

Stairway

I can hear them sing as I walk down the corridor in the congregation hall beside them. Their voices resonate through the cathedral.  I reach the door leading to the flight of stairs descending into the entrance of the cathedral.  Their voices become louder.  I sit down on the red carpeted stairs, my head resting against the railing.  I listen.  Afternoon light pours in through the stained glass windows giving the room a warm glow.  Their voices soar and then soften like waves.  The words they sing  – a painfully beautiful poem:

“Warm summer sun,
shine brightly here,
Warm Southern wind,
blow softly here,
Green sod above,
lie light, lie light,
Good night, dear heart;
good night, good night.”

On the Water

Fog

It was a freezing cold morning.  The air was damp and cold, the sky a drowsy gray.  My oversized rubber boots rubbed against each other and squeaked as I followed behind my uncle along the dock.  The dock lurched and rocked as small waves came up and pushed against its side.  I looked down between the cracks in the dock and watched the waves dissipate underneath.  I walked unsteadily, wary of the creaking boards.  Catching up with my uncle, I grabbed hold of his hand to steady myself as we walked to his boat.  His little skiff was tied near the end of the dock, calmly bobbing up and down with the waves.

The wind had begun to pick up, whipping my hair into my face.  Stepping into the boat, my uncle turned around and lifted me in beside him.  We hadn’t exchanged any words since we had arrived at the bay.  He zipped up my coat all the way to my chin and pinched my nose.  His hands were huge and rough.  Untying the boat he started up the motor and pushed off from the dock.

The icy morning was enveloped in fog, the morning sun glowing ever so slightly through it, a pale orange.  The boat got faster and faster, spraying water to the side and bumping up and down on the waves.  I leaned over to the side of the boat and dipped my hand in, cutting the water as we raced past.

As a coastline appeared inch by inch my uncle slowed the boat.  We neared the beach and fog gave way to tall dark trees looming above and a grassy sand mounds.  He beached the boat and I hopped out, looking back at where we had come from, no longer visible through the fog.

Sister’s Presence

She stroked the baby’s head.

With her tiny fingers, she played with his even tinier ones.

She leaned down into his wooden cradle, her hair just meeting the mattress as

She lightly kissed his forehead.

 

Straightening back up, she smiled and

Pulled the blanket back over his small body.

She stood there watching his sweet face as

She stroked the baby’s head.

 

As if he knew of his sister’s presence,

His little sparkling blue eyes opened and looked back at her.

He grasped his tiny hands at the air and

With her tiny fingers, she played with his even tinier ones.

 

Grabbing tight to her fingers he thrust them into his mouth.

Her smile grew even larger.

Reaching her nose to his round belly

She leaned down into his wooden cradle, her hair just meeting the mattress.

 

He stretched and giggled as she tickled his tummy.

He wriggled about and grabbed at the air till he found something to pull at:

Her hair.  She laughed and for one last time,

She lightly kissed his forehead.

 

Longing