December 22, 2020 by The Citron Review
by Lucy Wilde
Perhaps instead I should address this to Tim, the timid boy from Biggar, with delicate hands and feet and a heart as boundless as the prairie sky. He would laugh at the fact that I am writing this while sitting atop the Pashmina-covered commode at the side of my mother’s bed, on the same piece of scrap paper that I am writing my shopping list, which so far consists of 30 jars of sieved peas, 10 packs of 36 diapers (5 adult and 5 toddler), baby powder for diaper rash (adult and toddler), a vat of Vaseline, 2 litres of vanilla ice cream and a request from the woman who formerly knew she was my mother for “something bubbly”. Timothy, I don’t think you would be interested in such things, as you direct the movements of some corporeal maestros in your sweat-drenched dance studio in Montreal, pondering the slight turn of a foot or sweep of an arm.
Tim, if you could only see me now as I attempt to entertain a two year old in perpetual motion, trying to get him to play with one of his hundreds of sophisticated, earth-friendly, choke-safe, educational toys, when all he wants to do is knock grandma’s teeth out of the cup at her bedside and use them to devour everything in sight. I do this while trying, with the aid of bird-like machines and a host of other belts and pulleys, to maintain the momentum of life of an 86-year-old woman, giving her constant cues to help her recognize all the familiar things around her: face cloth, hairbrush, wedding ring, youngest daughter.
And Timothy, while you are going over and over in your head the transition from that one difficult jete to the next, I will be wiping the remnants of ice cream and mushy peas from two sweet trusting mouths. Marcus used to eat anything, but my mother, after 65 years of espousing the importance of a healthy diet, refuses to eat anything except ginger beer floats and mushy peas with devilled ham mixed in. Marcus has now decided he wants the same. Tim, I think you would love him immediately. And Timothy? Perhaps you would appreciate such dedication.
And after the colourful carnage of lunchtime and requisite diaper changes, life begins to go in reverse, and it is nap time for all. Grandma will sleep in her favourite corpse pose with Marcus curled up at her side. I like to lie down next to them, my arm stretched across both, feeling the rhythm of their breathing as sleep usually comes to them quickly. I should sleep, but this is when I often think of you and the other maestros, when we all danced together, lithesome and lustful, and dream of how it must feel for you to command the movements of those expressive, throbbing bodies in their portrayals of gigolos and vampires.
But soon it is time for life to emerge again, as Marcus starts to squirm and kick and giggle. And then Tim, while I sit and massage my mother’s arms and legs, coaxing back the memory of movement hidden in her muscles and nerves, Marcus will twirl around the room and laugh, and Mother will laugh even as she wonders who he is. And then I put the music on, and we dance. No grande jetes or arabesque. Martha Graham or Twyla Tharp we are not. But Marcus, in his grand solo, can orchestrate a bow of the head that is equal to the weight of all human sorrow, and we clap and stamp our feet. And this is it Tim. This is my pas de trois.
Gros Bisous. Adieu mon cher,
Lucy Wilde is an emerging writer living in Tsawwassen, B.C. She divides her time between writing and caring for, and communing with, her erudite horse Magic, who lives on a farm near her home. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine.