Z: Does it hurt very much?
Z: How so?
A: Everything hurts, darling.
Z: You should talk about it. What it feels like. I want to feel it, too. And tell the others what is happening if I need to.
A: I’d rather not think about it. Say it. Gardening, cleaning, puttering around the House, loving on the animals, writing, painting, playing my broken cello—my hands floating across the piano keys—It all distracts me. I want to bury it, love. Out in the backyard with all my notebooks that I can’t read. They are too upsetting. But I have left their locations in the safety deposit box. I shall pay for another key to replace the one entrusted to me—that I misplaced, lost—among so many other things that I juggle. So many things, variables, and strange things, different things. I feel bad when a small percentage fall through the cracks. That I am not competent. But it’s a numbers game, no? Something’s gotta give.
Z: So then—yes. It does hurt. I, too, feel its intensity. In the periphery, yet the bowels. Visceral. The underground-abyss. I have descended down to the depths to find you. Retrieve you. Be your Orpheus as I am too late to be your Virgil as I so want to be.
A: It is difficult to speak of it. I don’t want to tell, admit to myself what is happening. Instead, I photograph and stay with the flowers, the multifarious colors of leaves, plants, herbs, lettuces and kale, Swiss chard, the ever-present, chattering / singing birds. They give to me so much. I must feed them. They visit. Adorn the Poetry Garden. Alight in pairs. Love Birds. The latest—a pair of delicate, yellow finches, I believe. Though it’s hard to forget. It’s hard to focus sometimes, darling. Though I try. My best college try. A noble effort. I long to be noble. But I am salt of the earth like my mother. Cerebral warrior like my father. I still miss him so much. Pray he is helping me. But sad that he sees me this way. Grateful I don’t have to see him seeing me. I still wail like a wild animal at moments that I cannot predict. That pull me under. You should know. Do not tell the others, especially my mother. Lost in her own grief. That lessens and reappears. Inserts itself.
Z: Show me your hands again. Pretend you are holding a tennis ball as the X-ray technician from Italy instructed.
A: It is difficult to look at them, my love. I try not to. I try not to obsess. Not to remember. Not to overuse them. I type and write by hand sparingly. I garden with tools when I can. They are visibly degenerating. Since the last X-rays six months ago. The kind doctor did not order more. So as not to upset me. There is nothing to do.
The tissues everywhere in my body give out. The over-zealous soldiers mistake their own—a friendly fire-war. Painful to comprehend, imagine, follow.
Z: You will learn to speak into a tape recorder. No one can predict when. But you shoud try. There is science. Research. Technology. Studies. Medications.
A: Yes, it is science, yes. But so many unknowns. Holes. The world does not care. How could they? They do not know.
Z: You must tell them.
A: I am too tired.
All my energy–I conserve for my legacy. As pompous as that sounds. Every day is pure platinum. Every hour that I can identify, remember, rename as such. I am writing promises to myself, to you, to the others. I am Archiving the Future.
Z: Does it hurt very much?
A: Yes. It is a relief to tell someone. Particularly you. Do not be sad. Part of my unknown DNA. I have accepted. I tell myself. I have accepted. There is nothing to be done to stop the decay.
Z: Perhaps in the future.
A: Yes, perhaps.
Z: You must believe.
A: Yes, I must.