Hidden Camera—Basketball

We met because our children played in the same basketball league. My son and his daughter were on a team where the coach was stretched too thin. I volunteered my older daughters as coaches and every week we tried to be there for extra support and practice.

One game stands out in my memory. The opposing team had ringers and parents so focused on winning that they badgered and heckled our team.

I approached one of the league officials and asked her to intervene. She refused.

Our kids lost and we comforted them with words about how hard they had played and how unfair it all was.

Now it just seems like a metaphor for all that was yet to come.

Lanterns to release in air

She wore a soft, pink sweater (her sister bought) as though the cool chill of October could touch her anymore and the small group of people gathered at her ad hoc memorial are floating up as the sky darkens

The ashes and the pink sweater and the flash of inexplicable light get me again and again

I have to conjure some litany for this–

Sprite, fly

Luminesce

Alight upon yonder shore

Mermaid

Grief been here before–Target was closed and we drove

In my presbyopia I could not identify the man or his freaked out dog

Who can tell between Sirens and mermaids? They are both capable of artifice and the old-fashioned waterborne howl in

Such dark waters

I swim back to the day

The park

Beauty all around

And fast food wedding feast

Pregnant bride vomiting while

Someone took money from the medic’s bag

How did we drive back across that precipitous bridge?

All I can do is elide the best of you with

What will be

What must and shall

Be.

John 2:5 KJV

[5] His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it .

Shibboleth

When Mary talks now on the Fisher-Price phone of loss, she speaks with a five year old’s falsetto. She is breezy, upbeat even, and we exchange pleasantries through the medium of her daughter’s voice.

Mary, the girls have your laugh, I try to tell her before the line cuts off. Mary, I always wanted to be your real mom, I tell her before the line clicks off. Mary, that last day haunts me. The girls talk as though you still have the giant carnival unicorn, as though you tucked it under your arm and carried it right through

The earth will soon dissolve like snow/The sun forebear to shine/But God who called me here below/will be forever mine

Mary’s New Number

Over the years Mary would come and go. Often when she was gone for months I would worry she was dead. The time I worried about her the least was when she was in prison.

I counted how many numbers I had for her–eight, not counting the times she used her boyfriends’ or family’s phones, or the borrowed phones of the carceral state.

This time I decided to change my contact information for her from Mary the Beautiful or Mary the Precious to

The thinking was that this way I could keep track of how current the number was. This was a decision of pragmatism, acknowledging the ephemeral nature of my relationship to my daughter’s phones.

Now it just seems so darn hopeful. How could I have known it would be her last?

Urn for ashes, woman

Apparently you can buy anything on Amazon I think as once again I am in a club I don’t want to belong to

He says what do I do now without her? And I tell him, she is not there. That is not where she is

Echoing the conversations between angels and other Marys

I tell him what I would tell you, or me or anyone–a dog on the street if I had to–

She is eternal and the pain we feel is that verification that we must seek eternity

Seek the one who can

Get us

Past our terrible selves

Mary Joanna Lee

Mary was born on January 1, 1993. She was born to ________ and _______and is survived by _____________________________________. She had kids with__________, who preceded her in death by a handful of months, days, minutes, hours.

Her children are bright little lights, and I want to gather all of them to me, sing with them, raise them onto strong shoulders, proceed with them in a march more wedding than funeral, acknowledge that no life is actually just a handful of years, months, days, hours, minutes, things smaller than that, things that can only be measured by Hands torn for

For her, for me

He precedes us in life, in death, in life again

Walk out of that grave, girl, walk into life

All because of Him