Sunday, June 5, 2011

Writer: Michael D. Brown


As your tear-blurred eyes indicted me, I came to believe I could never learn the grammar of your unwritten language, the gist of which appeared to claim a promise to mollify is a promise nonetheless and not to be mitigated by melancholy, while not discounting the prerogative of reconsideration. Memory has its place, but what of the moment and the unworded glance?

Though I might one day visit the place from which you spoke, I would be traveling alone. Having allowed your lesson to slip away in a grasp at understanding the context of the moment, thereby overlooking the details, will I fail to recognize history, in a way, repeating itself? Will you, then, wherever you are, smile at my foolish lapse? Or will you take pity? Can your intangible pity supply anything more than a reprimanding look from the silent ghost of a guilty conscience? Will that ease the pain I may be going through then, as I now, ineffably attempt to ease yours?

Such a shame you will pass intestate, and those of us who survive can only guess and try to remember wishes you expressed on brighter days. The irony of the sword that strings together your mumbled incoherencies is in how it likewise pierces our hearts when recalling that you taught this stuff for years. Making sense was your livelihood.

There were times when I could not immediately ascertain what you were trying to say in your writing, but the compositions were always available for rereading. We were both men of letters in those days, and though you were always a private person and declined to relate your own tale, one could divine your work’s provenance. Now, this kind of transitory communication—this does not work for me. I cannot discern whether you are begging or damning, and desperately need something to go on.

As I watched you swat invisible insects and relate your unstoried life to shafts of sunlight, I asked, “Where are you now?” “Schism…trellis,” you said, or at least that is what I heard, as your mind regressed through several decades perhaps seeking comfort as a tabula rasa, every observed movement an unformed, but learnable word.

In this last month-long half week, your race to that place has quickened, and I am reminded of college days, and Einstein, and the hypothetical astronaut who returned to encounter his aged self. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it...?

The night comes on, and the atmosphere in this room, responding to a faulty thermostat, is chilled by what does not occur between us. I am certain there will not be many more of these nights. Honestly, and I apologize for feeling this way, I no longer believe in my promises from yesterday which you could not help leaving unacknowledged. I pass on what you could not parse.

I replace the pillow at the foot of this strange bed. I cannot commit to our fleeting plan. I do not have it in me.

There are no words for how I feel, and you have none to give me. I do not know where you are, but you will have to find your way alone, as I will. We are beyond enabling each other.

I think I want to leave, want to run, but I only think it, and instead sit in a chair by the useless window in hopes that if I wait and watch a while longer, Nature in her kindness will obviate the need to erase what has not been written here.

“Cello…ingmitgrense,” you utter in sounds that in no way resemble condemnation nor atonement.

© Michael D. Brown 2011


  1. I shall come back again and re-read - there is much that resonates of pain here - but I did want to say how clever and how well you demonstrate the skill of writing, of 'show don't tell', with your phrase "the atmosphere in this room, responding to a faulty thermostat" Superb.

  2. Really enjoyed how this piece grew. The wonderful abstract descriptions of a person, of a relationship, and the memories it created, increasingly reveal these two people. Very nice work.

  3. This was filled with emotion. I feel there is another story hidden in between the lines. Waiting only for someone clever enough to draw it out.

    Jeanette Cheezum

  4. Beautiful and sad, I don't look forward to the day when I watch loved ones, friends or family get to this state. This is sobering in itself.

  5. This is a very beautiful but also very sad piece. It sparks so much emotion in the reader ...

  6. No less painful on re-reading ... if anything more so as the strength of the writing keeps the scene firmly in place against the mind of the narrator.


MDJB at GoodReads

Michael D. Brown's books on Goodreads Bastille Day reviews: 2 ratings: 3 (avg rating 5.00...