What was more real then that

The picture I have of Cindy

is of ageless women

with beautiful lines on their faces

picking cotton

in Virginia

with my mother

riding bareback

like she always loved to do.

I remember Virginia like I remember most dreams

that creep up my spine

and tingle

my heart

to threads

and

filaments

that I pulled through the needle

to sow the hem of that pink dress that I wore;

(I danced with a boy for the first time in Virginia;

late at night

when the moon burned red

and he said:

You have a beautiful smile.

He was nervous

like me

but we danced

hand in hand

in Virginia.)

When they buried Cindy

I wore a black dress

and tied my hair into knots

at the back of my head

(it was fifteen inches long and so curly

that it looked like flames

kissing my scalp.)

I told Stephanie that I was sorry

referring

to the

cold

flesh

of my dead grandmother

as memory

but

rejecting the reflex to gag.

I hate the smell of flowers

they remind me

of Nana

and her death

(white

rose

-alone-

between

her hands

when they

put

her

in the

ground.)

How can you put people in the cold ground?

Teach me how to let go!

The last time I saw Cindy

I said that she looked good:

too skinny,

bones

jutting

and strutting

their stuff like whores on the roadway.

I said

its

good

to

see

you

and

we

should

see

each other

again

soon.

She

died

three

months

later.

With Steve (her gawky husband)

crying

because

they're little house

and his little salary

couldn't afford

the reclining chair

that she needed

for her last days.

Back in Virginia

Cindy's

running wild in the fields

and I'm sitting on the porch

with my breasts

covered by leather

trying

to hide

the size

that plagued my childhood;

(I remember playing with Andrea

and her

saying;

put

a

bra

on

but it always baffled me.

And

when my mother made me start wearing one

I would hide in the bathroom

and pull it off

before school.)

My mother cried when Cindy died

when the tumors inside of her fried

poisons

into her blood stream

before she had had a chance to get any gray hairs.

I have a memory

of Cindy tracing her ancestors

back to the Middle Ages

pouring over books

with her cut up fingertips

and me

watching her-

in Virginia

the sun

never sets

but always rises

to heighten

everything.

Like going through the woods

with the boys

and discovering old civil war graves

or protesting the demolition

of historic landmarks.

Put you're fist in the air

and shout

for what you believe in!

I believe

that death isn't the end!

I believe

that Virginia is in heaven

(if there is a heaven)

and that she's riding

side saddle

like the wise women that she was.

At the funeral

they showed a picture

of her holding a cup of water

while wearing an old Beatles T-shirt

and I guess

in the end

what was more real then that.