On Waking ajter Dreaming of Raoul

If Freud was right and dreams of falling are dreams of having fallen then you must have been the beautiful declivity of that hill, Raoul, the speed was so seductive and the brakes so unreliable, and so intricate and so abstract that when I touched them they squeaked like a jar lid coming loose and I was embarrassed, but not sad, at being the one flat wheel that bumped down the hill in an unsteady gulp of denial—oh no oh no oh no— until I woke up chilly, damp, my breath unsteady.

In order to recover I sit at the desk studying the Order of the Holy Ghost Retreat and Old Age Home until dusk comes down the street elm by elm, here where they've managed to cure them with a tincture so poisonous, the leaves, though living, are frail and blanched. I think of you, Ruby Flores' half-brother and a thief and a cook. Because what good is it, anymore, pretending I didn't love you; after all these years vou must be jailed or dead, and it is a relief to give up reticence which as you once said is merely impetuosity held tightly in check.

Over the gold swells of sunset lawns the old men come rolling in their iron chairs, pushed around by nuns, their open mouths are Os of permanent dismay. Far away the stars are a fine talcum dusting my mother's one good black dress, those nights she gunned the DeSoto around Aunt Ada's bed of asters while you shortened the laces of my breath. Despite the nuns, despite my mother and my own notions of how bad girls end up educated and alone the door opens and you walk in; naked, you were narrow and white as the fishing knife's pearl handle and you kiss me until my resolve grows as empty as the dress from which I stepped, both brave and willful. I loved you, although I didn't know it yet, anymore than these old men on the dole of some nun's affectionate disdain knew that they would end up poor, mortgaged to a ghost, and living in a place like this.

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