We walked together, Quentin and I, along the crest of the hill. Below us was sprawled the town I had never bothered to find the name of, but it didn't matter. All of that was a different world. I lay down and he lay beside me. Up in the sky the clouds crawled across the blue and below us, the grass tickled our bare feet. Perhaps, my moment of weakness, when I posted that comment on Omnidictionary, had been a blessing in disguise.
We awoke some time later. The sun was disappearing below the horizon and the boy next to me slept. I stand and then stoop down to reach the soft earth. It comes away with little effort but Quentin stirs. He comes up by my side and dips cupped hands into the soil, scooping out handfulls of it. "What are we digging to?" he asks.
I smile. "That's not the right question. The question is, who are we digging for."
"Okay then," he says, taking the bait, "Who are we digging for?"
"We are digging the graves for little Margo and little Quentin and puppy Myrna Mountweazel and poor dead Robert Joyner."
We continue to dig and the ground opens up before us. When it's time, we place the little black book into the hole. We each grab a handful of dirt. My hand reaches out over the pit and the soft silt slips through my fingers. Quietly, I recite.
"About their easy heads, my prayers
I spoke with syllables of clay.
What gift, I asked, shall I bring now
Before I weep and walk away?"
Stepping in mid-stride Quentin finishes.
"Take, they replied, the oak and laurel.
Take our fortunes of tears and live
Like a spendthrift lover. All we ask
Is the one gift you cannot give."
He drops in a handful of dirt and we nudge the rest of the pile in, completely covering the little book. I don't really know why I am doing this, and I don't realize the implications until later. I was leaving it all behind, everything that I was and started fresh, a new life. And I shed no tears for the old life I left behind, save but for one boy.
And those tears came when he was far, far behind.
I pull into a gas station and wander around the store while my tank filled. In the corner of my vision, something catches my eye, a black leather-bound book. I bring it to the cash register and pay for it with shaking hands. Back inside the car, I pat my pockets and came up with the worn pen.
The pages are clear and clean, unadulterated by any hand but mine. It is blank from cover to cover: a clean slate, a new life, a second chance. Once more I placed the pen to the paper and write in the familiar crisscrossing pattern.
I Am a vessel
That as it cracks With Pressure from all my Insecurities pushing In
Allows My invisible light To shine out.
I am a Dreamer
Who May one day find a Life, a place, a Purpose, And a friend
To calm My Restless spirit.
I was a Paper girl In a paper town, and This is the Song of Myself.
The poem is At the British war cemetery, Bayeux, by Charles Causely.