Sarai Austin

In the year since Sarai died I have more than once thought about things I would tell her if I could. I had two lists, “Things I would tell you/her if I could,” and “Things I’ve learned since you/she died.” The lists overlapped, or got confused about their missions–is “it’s not as much fun coming home” something I’ve learned or just a fact I’d tell her if I could? And of course there’s the “if I could”: I can’t. Anything I write, if it’s not just for me (and if you’re reading this you know which way I went), is bound to be opaque, my only real audience dead, her ashes deaf dumb and blind in a box downstairs.

She sometimes said she hated irrelevant trivia I’d bring up. I tried, but I guess I couldn’t be stopped. I can’t be stopped now. So here I am, another pass, in a kind of Ted Hughes-like Birthday Letter, though on the anniversary of the other end of her life (not that far apart those days, birth and death days, less than a month).

 

Things that have changed around here since you died or, if not changed, have come to my attention:

laundry is never done
I’m no longer surprised when a friend goes down
I’ve learned to make kitchari
it’s not as much fun coming home
the little ways I’ve changed the house disturb me
I talk to myself when I’m alone
there’s still no place I’d rather be

the drought is over
the lake is full
the flag on the “island”
is the Bear Flag now
that Trump was elected
which you didn’t know

if nothing else keep the toilets clean
you feared I’d make a mess of things
that dust would settle everywhere
and cats would run free

Draper and Damon closed
the Radio Shack on the corner closed
the Yardage Town is on final sale
reducing inventory so the owners can retire
no more Passage to India
or Souplantation Sunday brunch
Simple TV went out of business
and with our lifetime subscription
went your Miranda videos
you exercised with
in the bedroom
as many days as you could manage
the bedroom you died in
a year ago today

I can’t disappoint you any more
or try to learn to make you happy
I can’t live our life alone
and freedom just feels shitty
time’s healing power is overrated
time makes nothing easier
time doesn’t heal
time

Grief empties you,
your flesh scarcely
noticeable.
As though you’ve
lost weight,
pound per pound
to whatever
the loss.
A frail aging
parent, you lose
half of yourself,
a lover
yourself plus half.

 

Sarai Austin
3/26/99