Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Parrots of Presidio Park

The last time I saw you was the last time I cried.

I was north in Laytonville, you south in Santa Cruz. “Meet me at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.” And there you were, beneath an Araucaria Tree.

We walked on the paths, skirting around the hard stuff and searching for boundaries. I photographed you in the Gunnera leaves, and you kidded me about my distance.

We saw our first Dawn Redwood. Though manicured and displaced, it still looked wise and fierce, with its fuzzy, orangutan bark, and bunchy, dripped wax trunk.

We crossed Lincoln and went for beers at the Irish Pub on Ninth. While playing backgammon and drinking Anchor Steams we finally remembered how to flirt. And argue.

We made love over and over in the Travelodge on Lombard, and in the morning we made love one last time as if our lives depended on it.

We checked out of the hotel, and went and sat on the stonewall at the entrance to the Presidio. At first I was amazed to see a pair of red-shouldered hawks in the middle of such a large city, but it was the flashing flock of parrots that really scrunched my brow.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

We drew it out, of course. You gave us each a headphone and put on our favorite song, and it was then that I last cried.

It was almost too cruel to be worth it, seeing you for less than 24 hours in a year. But then again, it is the crushing of our hearts into wine that is the sap and marrow of our memories, and I wouldn’t take it back for all the table grapes in the world.

And now, months later, you are twirling in your glass slippers through the slot canyons of Manhattan, and I am slouched over a piece of paper in the fir forests of West Marin.

The song ended and I had to rush away first. I held you like a promise, and kissed your wet cheeks and mouth.

You looked mad and so damn beautiful as you held tight to my shoulders, already feeling your grip losing its teeth.

When I drove away I was still crying, and I watched you in the rearview mirror, as you watched me from on top of that stonewall.

When I turned the corner I punched the steering wheel three times and never cried again.

November 2007
Lagunitas, CA

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