by Renee Chaisson
The waves splash in front of us and my nose is full of salt and astringent decay. Behind us, your house still stands looking out at the water. There is a different family living in it now; they painted and they enlarged the porch out front. It looks foreign, but it feels the same. Like I could go on in the back door without knocking, and you would make me a cup of tea and I would sneak a candy while your back was turned. I wonder if they still have your vegetable garden. Did they keep your clothesline? Does someone stand outside, like you used to do, with wet laundry and sing about the lilies while she clips the shirts and sheets and tea towels up on the line? Do her kids run through the sheets? Does she yell at them to knock it off? I wonder about that.
The waves are loud and wild here and the tideline is close to us. I can see the sand fleas leaping up from the long line of dead seaweed and kelp. If I were to dig in there, I would find crumbling bodies of crabs and sand dollars. Probably some beach glass; remember how you used to keep it in that jar in the window? Right next to that little, sparkling vase that held sweet peas when they were in season. Mark loved to pick you sweet peas from the beach. He would bring them home in his sweaty little fist, and you were always so delighted. As though he was presenting you with some magnificent, expensive bouquet. I brought you beach glass, and Mark brought you sweet peas, and you loved them both like they were treasure.
I bought you a rose bush today. I hope you like it. It is yellow, because I remember how you used to sing a song about yellow roses. I will plant it as soon as I can get your urn to open. I do not know why they closed it so tight, but it is good and stuck. I will keep working on it while I sit here with you. Mark should be here. We both know that it has nothing to do with the cost of his airline ticket. Maybe I should have tried harder with him, but I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer. There’s a sailboat out there; its sails are fully puffed out and it is moving slowly on the water. You loved spotting those.
The dirt was pierced more easily than I expected, and the yellow rose looks stable and brave in the packed-down earth. Your urn feels heavier now that it is empty. The sailboat has moved closer, I see. In fact, it is so close that I can see a man walking on the deck. He pulls in the rigging and collapses the sails to let the vessel drift. He stretches, and then plops down in a lounge chair. Feet up, drink in hand, I can almost see him exhale.
This is a good place to rest.