Years Later I Buy Two of Your Paintings
Alicia Wright

Before we knew Buddha, before Frankenthaler, when we lay in daises beneath
the arm of the persimmon tree at Woodhaven, popping grapes. In the days of
the Buick, before Derrida, before Durrell, just before another artist boy, sweeter
than you, than Sufjan, more supplely took me. When I had to walk you to her
grave. Before the Theater of the Absurd. At the foot of the Saddle Mountain
cul-de-sac, you come in my mouth. When I had to watch you flip your Greek
and waving hair. When you could only sketch her body. When you would drop
psychology as I snipped Soviet magazines posing as propaganda, my encoded
mix of folk. Before Kandinsky, before Ouija, before New Sincerity. When you
find yourself on the marble steps in Athens, gargling whiskey, before you ask
me to do the same, again, with you. Before the phone call, when you think I’m
lying as I tell you that she’s dead. Before Anaïs, before Henry, before Goodie
Mob and Conor. Before I dream the plane go down, when we could all still
smoke in Waffle House. Before New York (everything before it), before Lacan
and Dostoevsky, before your plunge into theology, if only brief. When I learned
there’s love in loss, I watched you want so many girls like her. Before our letters,
before you morphed into an artist on the night you painted out those haunting,
hulking giants on the tarp. To you I turn to teach me, before you sense I’m
drawing too much likeness. Like Frida, I want to be inside your darkest everything. We
know we share the source, the sight, Cormac, the South. I can see the truth of
your Algerian Day—the man forever strains to hold the falling woman, slipping
off the cliff. I know that other figure who is watching, who will always, not so
distant in the sky. I want you to know that I will always write her, too. We are
the ones who make her still. We’re still alive. You are the only one I want to
watch me making.