There is no door at the street level to keep anyone from drifting up the stairs. Our rooms are singles; we live where we work, bringing whatever aid, comfort and strength we can summon to children who wash their own tattered socks and underwear, then hang them to dry on the rusted handlebars of wheel-less bicycles at the end of the corridor.
I have another home somewhere but this seems to be where I can be found. I answer a knock on the door to my room and one of the children tells me there is someone looking for me, says he didn't want to startle me by just showing up. It is Jack and even in the dream I know that he died more than 9 years ago. And here he is in workingman clothes with smooth skin and kindness.
He has been looking for me, I know without being told. We half hug and even kiss about 80 per cent, edges of lips touching; it was never like that. Both my dream and dreaming selves feel a deep wonder, heart-stabbing, breath-stopping joy. Is he thinner, is it someone else who just reminds me, in some ways yet not others, of the man, smart and lost, whose Impala was named Magnolia, his dogs Morgan and Bodie?
|Reasonable facsimile Impala, thanks to oldparkedcars.com.|
As we drive from the restaurant, I ask him what writers I have to read before my days run out; who is essential. I say I've never read Joyce, never read Faulkner. He answers but in a voice so soft that I have to lean closer and ask him to say it again. He talks about who were his favorites; says something about Joyce that makes me laugh. Then we are walking on streets near City Hall where he once worked. He tells me he has found free parking, since the meters are now so expensive. What he had done is bury his car in the plantings along the north side of the abandoned YWCA building. I never learn what I must read.