Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dinner at Sushi No-No

There were words spoken, promises
made, then we split into two camps.
We reconvened at Sushi No-No
and talked over miso about
his mother's cancer. How it
invades his body too, every thought,
the air itself.
-It's just that she's so young,
he says. -She's not that young,
I answer, then regret it.
What does age have to do with
with cancer? With preparedness
for death? -My brother was four
months old when he died, does
that make him more or less
ready to die? -More, D. says,
slurping. He didn't know any
better. That's why he was more
prepared. -No, I answer. He
was prepared for more living,
not death. We argue this
to take our mind off his mother,
who's still living less than
five miles away, preparing to die.
She's a 'terminal case'--"four
months" the doctor said two weeks
and three days and four hours ago.
Which means she could go
at any moment. D. leans back
as the waiter removes our bowls.
Since his mother's diagnosis,
he can't eat meat. He questions
the morality of cheese. I think
of that line from Lowell about
fallen fruit. He's eaten plenty
of that.
-I know I'm going to get that phone call,
and I'm not ready. I'm not ready. I'm
not ready.
A loop. He falls into loops lately where
repetition creates a phalanx against
terror. Talk therapy. We're
talking through the ineluctable
advance, which, when it happens,
will push him into a new, less forgiving world.
-Do you remember when we were going out--
I hate when sentences begin like this--
the first time you met my mother?
Oh God. I don't remember. I don't
remember. I don't remember.
-Of course I remember, D.
(Meeting her was like a post-script
to a letter I hadn't written yet. A Dear John
kind of letter.) She made us dinner.
She was a wonderful cook. Salmon. Wasn't it salmon?
-Well, do you know what she said about you?
He watches me pick up a tekka maki roll
with my fingers and dip it into the soy.
-No, D. I don't think you told me. I don't remember.
-You don't remember because I never told you.
She said you'd break my heart. She said 'David,
that girl will break your heart.'
Now this is when I marvel at her womanly
intuition. Her mama-knows-child.
-Well, nobody's right all the time.
I want to order more sake. I want to
pour it all over his fat head. Suddenly
all the pity that was fueling this dinner
alchemizes into venom and as if he
wasn't hurting enough, I want him
to hurt a little more.
-You know, he says, I might as well
get this all out now. It feels good to
talk like this. I still don't know why
you left me. Why?
The clouds outside have completed
covered the sky. It's going to be
one hell of a storm.
-I didn't leave, D. I'm right here.
Aren't I right here?
The waiter is slender. I wonder what
kind of penis such a slender man has,
a child's penis. A pale, pricey mushroom.
-Do you really want to know? I ask him.
I don't know. I didn't know then, and
I don't know know. You make me
feel crowded with words. You talk
too much.
Which was ironic because presently,
he was quiet as stone.
-I thought you said that was why you
loved me. That we could talk about
anything, everything. The world in words.

Yes, that too.


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