Our Song, from Beginning to End
We absconded from the farm at daybreak, drove for hours through the red-rock pinnacles of the Santa Ynez Mountains, through desert canyons and cottonwood groves. My passion for adventure and your anger at oppression fused in the drizzle of orange dust that baptized our understanding, a hundred miles from the point of no return on the land where it was sown and reaped.
Before you knew it you were weeping, amid ancient rock formations and wind-blasted pines,
threatening to drive us off a cliff. The hundreds of Native people we planned to join, traversing the north-south river, fighting to keep their land from invasion by greedy corporations and rich farmers with delusions of preeminence, would have to wait while we reconciled this massive friction between courage and coolness, this conflict of sweat and sting. The thousands of spectators, dressed in hipster regalia and long-sleeved flannel, could have bathed in the radiation we gave off, giddy at this miracle of natural justice.
Then we sat in the leaping light above the river, outside the pole-fenced campground, watching the thirsty salmon. Your camera sat, exhausted, in your lap. You pushed up all my strings and beads, kissed my bruise-manacled wrist, and vowed that when the snow began to fall, we would sleep beneath the biggest boulder in the state, singing a wild sacrificial lay, and we'd never know who was holding who down.
I was ordering a case of twelve dozen fruit pastes—pommes au caramel, cerise chinoise, éclair chocolat—and two thousand tiles of fused-sand glass in Jaffa.
The flour was powdered manna, and Yael had kneaded it into honeyed dough on the cracked
marble slab in her kitchenette. It had been three weeks since we were last together, Yael in her late husband's white smock, still presentable, sturdy, still sharp; my once-love masked in his gold-brown glasses the morning after last night's late dinner at the Well of Ra'anana, his sighs the smoke of the martyrs he'd made leading hundreds of young men and girls through the barbed-wire battlelands.
I'd driven in darkness to meet him, after his ghost spoke to me of what happened in Shujaiya. Not by staying up all night and staring into the stars to pick up his voice among the echoes of all those million voices raised in prayer, but by putting on my gravest face with my gravest dress, and paying the guards in dollars.
The tiles cost ninety-four thousand in total. And though the account was not mine, I still saw, in their dichroic deep-sea glow, the ghosts that would bloat the belly of the Beechcraft, flying back, like the millionfold weight of so much blood-red gold.
Clarice Hare's work has recently appeared in Fleas on the Dog, Amethyst Review, Ephemeral Elegies, Writing in a Woman's Voice and Datura.