Grace D’Anca 4/2018
You introduced me to Vietnamese coffee.
I didn’t know what to expect when we met at the needle’s eye noodle place
in the Sunset. You rode your motorcycle in the cold and I
struggled to park even before we all had as many
cars as fingers and toes and before meters
cost as much as a day’s pay. Waiting for the coffee to drip
into the thick sweet milk you told me how you liked to ride through
the park in the morning mist and see the ducks and the daffodils.
This, the other side of your sly wicked self. I was
always impatient for that coffee to brew. You
could smoke a cigarette and tell me about him or
her, names I heard before but could never connect
to ongoing identity. I never thought we’d become friends
passing through coincidental housing with those coke and leather people.
I used to slam doors at dishes you left in the sink, an electric cord
strung across a doorway and other atrocities. I’d say how
are you and you’d say Welllll
okay on the way to how, so I began to say hope
you’re good when time was impatient.
We were supposed to see a matinee.
I called, called, called, days and days on the black
kitchen phone with the curly cord
left a torrent of messages that you never answered.
Drove by your house to see your beat up beetle with a fan
of withered tickets under the wiper. Rang wrung
got the manager, reluctant to open your door
a hard push with many packages in the way.
You got a lot of parcels he said.
Not long before this you had a garage sale, peculiar
with hordes of women’s shoes all in boxes. You’d grown
thin, seemed fragmented with the all people, shoes and a secret
joy. Retired, you had more time to ponder, forget
slip in and out.
I’m not supposed to do this the manger said opening the door
a crack. We could see piles and mounds and paths of stuff. Your beloved Catso
made excruciating sounds and you were lying upturned on the couch. I tried
to press myself through the walls, out of the reality. We said
we hadn’t been inside your place in a long time
how you always made it nice for such a small space. Medics
brought you out covered with a crinkly silver blanket.
They said you were alive and had been down for a long time.
Your redneck brother and sister came
from hell the hole Texas town you fled.
We argued about what you would want
since your brain might never
think like you again.
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Elder Writing Project is an outreach project of the Litquake Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit registered in the state of California.