Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Sydney Bristow is my Friend

The night after wedges open--and tears.
I think of Salinger: His Franny, and her prayer:
Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I never asked for mercy before.

An earlier draft of this poem, written 7 years ago, began with these lines: "Until I can sliver them out, until / I can face them / wholly, these shards must work their way out / on their own."

I remember how grief seemed fractured and fragmented, dispersed through my body and soul like a thousand splinters from a rough-cut plank. Each fragment, sharp. Each location of entry--a memory or a killed hope--was swollen, infected. The extraction of grief (if grief could be extracted?) was time consuming; extraction was painful. The successful removal of one sliver indicated no promise for all the others, nor did it instantly cure the infection.

It was the last time I felt the way I do now, in grief. I wrote, "these shards must work their way out / on their own" because I remember then not being able to look at grief head-on, the way I don't look at it head-on very often right now--except when it overtakes me and forces me down on my bed. In the grappling, it pushes tears out my eyes, and sounds from my larynx. It swells my sinuses until my head pounds.

But most of the time right now, the way I let the shards work their way out on their own is by watching Alias reruns, sometimes until 1 in the morning, until my mind is so full of Sydney Bristow and her crazy FBI, double-agent life, that I can go to bed and not see my brother's gravel-skidded face, his blood that stained the ground on that country road, the stitches like treadmarks across his ear and skull, his body bloated by formaldehyde the day before the visitation. My mind will be so full of secret missions and bonfire-red wigs that I won't be able to miss seeing his living, ink-slung body cradling his seven-month-old baby girl. And I won't get lost--or caught--wondering what would have happened if I'd been at the hospital as he lay dying, if only a phone line had rung into my bedroom in the middle of the night, how I would have said goodbye or prayed for a miracle, how this might all feel different if I had.

If I wrap my mind around Agent Sydney Bristow, who lost her best friend to murder, and her other best friend to witness protection, and if I cry along with her when she tells Vaughn:" You wanna know how I am? I'm horrible. I am ripped apart,"--well, when I cry with her there, it feels like maybe one of those splinters dislodges just little bit, without my having to poke at it.

I have three seasons left to buy me more time.

No comments: