Memory and Bone

It seemed the plum trees
were already in bloom
but when I picked a branch
what fell—so much like flowers—
was snow.
~ Izumi Shikibu, in The Ink Dark Moon

“Memory and Bone”

January snowed gently under the Wolf Moon. My Human watched her garden through glass, her eyes swollen with recent loss.

“She needs to see me.”

No, said the voice that turns life into memory and bone.

“Let me show her that I’m here.”

Humans see nothing.

“You don’t know my Human.” My words were a growl that shook snow from branches.

The world won’t be changed for the sake of one.

The Universe was pulling me away. I pulled back, held on to ropes made of love-thickened tears, turned myself into memory, and pushed it into the Universe. “See my soul. See her.”

From a snowy garden, a lifetime away, I see my Human for the first time. Her mouth says, “Our house isn’t big enough for all this energy”. But her soul, the truest part of her, sings, She’s an angel—alive, happy, mine.

Years after that, I’m falling from a boat. Water hits my belly, fills my mouth, steals my breath. But my Human’s arms embrace me. We struggle, but she makes things right.

Then I show the Universe my Human and me around the house, living and doing, being the shadows of each other’s souls. Together, always… always, Together.

Enough. The Universe stopped my memory reel. If you are to her what she is to you, she will know you never left.

“She knows. I just want her to see me.”

You are snow and breath and moonlight. She won’t see you.

“She will.”

The Universe sighed.

I sprouted as a snow tree in full bloom.

My Human ran to the garden, reached for a snow blossom, and I crumbled. She sobbed.

I told you.

“No,” I said to the Universe, after my Human began to laugh through tears, her warm fingers tracing ‘Angel’ on snow that used to be a tree… that used to be me. “I told you.”

for Nina and her Angel

a wee note…
– Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads: Inside the Ink (Poetry and Flash Fiction with Magaly). Take a quote from the last book you read, and turn it into a three-stanza poem or a very short story… I chose the quote at the beginning of this post.

“…a two-fold paper screen painted in ink with a large ume (plum tree)”
by Kawakami Kōtatsu (1869-1957)


I stood at the back of the room, when the man and woman walked in. The woman was shouting.

“Her glutes aren’t showing, Simon. Stop seeing things.” The woman pushed the man away, and walked towards me while still talking to him. “The pose might be a little risqué. That’s all. But it’s our daughter’s best self-portrait. She wants it at the center of her birthday celebration, and she’ll have it.”

“Bethany, please,” the man put a hand on the woman’s shoulder, “let’s talk about this.”

The woman slapped the hand away. Hard. The flesh on flesh sound echoed through the empty parlor. When he reached for her again, she stopped and said, “There isn’t any talking to be done. Grow up, Simon! Our daughter is sixteen-years-old. She has the right to show some thigh, if that’s what she wants.”

“We don’t know, Bethany,” the man said, “maybe she—”

“There are no maybes here.” She left him talking to empty air. And wiping tears on the sleeve of her black suit, the woman closed the distance between us. “Excuse me,” she said, “you’re the event planner?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I extended a hand, “let me offer you my—”

“Never mind that.” She waved my words away. Her tears and her annoyance towards the man were covered by a bright smile. “My husband can’t agree with me on the details of the celebration.” She glared at him when he joined us. “Would you mind being the voice of reason?”

“Bethany,” the husband said, “don’t do this.”

“I understand now.” The woman laughed. “You know he’ll agree with me,” she said, pointing at my chest. “I’m right and you don’t want to hear it. Well, too bad.” She took a picture out of her suit’s inner pocket. “Let’s get this over with.”

The husband tried to grab the picture, but she had already put it in my hands.

“You tell me, sir.” The woman looked from my face to the picture. Then she turned towards her husband, and said to me, “Tell us.”

I didn’t look at the picture. My eyes were on the husband’s face. The dark circles under his eyes were wet and swollen. His lips were trembling.

I squeezed the picture between my fingers.

“He’s getting to you too, isn’t he?” The woman shook her head. “Just look at the picture. I made her that dress. I don’t understand the ribbons, but I made the dress. It was the only thing she asked for, so of course mommy made it for her baby.” She smiled and hugged herself. “It’s hand sewn. I had a business meeting I couldn’t miss, but I made the dress during the plane ride. On her birthday. But I don’t understand the ribbons.” She began to cry. “I don’t understand the ribbons. I don’t understand the red ribbons…”

“They told me she had to see it for herself,” the man said.

I nodded before lowering my eyes to the picture in my hands. A girl in a white dress floated in still waters. Tendrils of blood, that looked almost too red to be real, streamed out of her wrists.

a wee note…
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights: When shades of loss weave with pattern of madness.

photo, by Elena Kalis