Hello dear readers,
This poem is for my good friends Howard and Eugenia. It is online at the new MacQueen's Quinterly now:
The week before Eugenia died, she cooked Swedish meatballs and made dirty martinis for Ray and me and her lover Howard, younger by two years, 93 to her 95. And two months before she died, Eugenia made a video saying—
Let me compost the roses
when I die.
A year later, and two weeks before Howard joined her, Ray and I visited him in late May with my cousin and her friend from Washington State and we made BLTs with the bacon Howard had bought for his week of lunches—generous Howard didn’t mind, he knew I would replace it—and on the ride home the friend said—
I would have flirted with him
if he was 20 years younger.
One month after Howard died, his daughter sent an envelope stuffed with ashes not for rose mulching, but for scattering off the ferry on the holiday trip we always made—Howard, Eugenia, Ray, and me—to see the Christmas lights on the Embarcadero and have a drink at the St. Francis and watch the ice-skaters, every year saying—
We could do that if we wanted to.
And when Eugenia started moving just a little bit slower, we gave up the long trek to Union Square, having our drink at the Ferry Building Hog Island counter instead, then crossing the street to watch the skaters glide and stumble, laughing at the children in their bulky mittens—
Yes, we could certainly do that.
Today, we hang off the back of the boat moving between Marin and San Francisco, me with my camera and one eye out for the boat authorities and Ray popping the top off the coffee cup crammed with ashes of Howard and rose petals from Eugenia’s garden.
When it’s my turn, I want to be like Eugenia, like Howard, no mantelpiece urn, no columbarium
but scattered with roses whirling and dancing off the back end of a boat with friends and wine into the bay’s churning depths
into the mystery.