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From The Texas Review, Fall 2015 (Volume 36)

You Are Kind

        for my husband, Chris Juravich

It gets dark so early.
The black artery of a freeway clogs
with tail lights — scintillating
pomegranate seeds, dim ruby constellations.
Where are they all pushing toward?
Closer to Christmas I cling to you
as if I were sick, homeless, and you
were the only one who gave me a quiet
room with rare volumes, set the table.
I like to dine with you — not expected
to keep amusing talk or explain why
I did something wrong, how I used to explain
to others who I start forgetting. Though,
I recall the crisp, absent-eyed mornings
after Pinot-ruby nights — the floor to ceiling
window overlooking the misty, whitish Hudson,
my nude silhouette in spacious emptiness,
with a shiny green apple on the palm
for those who’d stylishly eat a serpent.

I become plain, warm-loving. Red
blurs my vision, Houston damp curls my hair.
“How are you doing?” “I don’t dwell on it, ma’am” —
a tollbooth clerk giggles, his Levi’s belted up
to his scrawny chest. “How are you doing?”
I greet a shamrock-tattooed shop assistant
rearranging canned cat food. “Living the dream.”
Me too, and there is no irony, with
my home overseas bomb-shelled, friends shot
in the back by those who sent them to war,
and I have no one to exit from this highway
for a drink to the past grief. How could I
not live the dream, not thank the one
who is so kind to me? “You are kind” —
the last words of my taciturn father-in-law
to my husband’s mom. It was in the ICU
where he asked me to put him on the ground
from his reclining bed, and found
sucking a tiny chunk of ice as a heavenly meal.
I knew so little about him: served in Korea,
gave blood for thirty years,
and never said anything cool. 

Why do strong passions brandish
their verbose revolvers, but find refuge so quickly,
while Gogol’s plain, provincial old-world landowners
silently sag when one of their mates die?
We don’t dwell on it. Before Christmas
I skip the realtors’ party and we drive to the mall —
not for shopping, but to walk hand in hand
under flickering snowflakes, sip hot chocolate
from one plastic cup to the same vintage tunes,
muffling the reality that season comforts hang
on a thin thread — while we are both alive.
Otherwise, the world would turn into a highway
clogged with strange cars, passing aloof in the dark
to unexplained darkness, pulsing with the brake lights
not nearly resembling Christmas decorations.


Photos by Elina Petrova:

New Glassell School of Art, Houston
James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, Houston