This entry is of the last time I saw Marenna. It has been at least six years.

December 5

Marenna, that clear headed woman. We have a corn soup that she has made. Her bread. I reflect that she has grown old, suddenly; that she has been allowed to grow old (By whom? Is she no longer in love with herself?) Something has loosened within her; the tightly wound center of her being has unravelled. It is not a relaxation nor a carelessness. The white in her hair is exposed, strands fly loose. There is a slight tremble in her skin. I feel as though she is too fragile to hold, that she will crumble or reveal something terrifying. How is it possible to bear the aging of our parents?

I am on my bed. Three days have passed and we have not really spoken; I have still not eased into her newness; her skin seems drier, papery.

In this state, the food and my dreams both have an intensity because I feel a sour pain, an emotional knowledge: she has changed. Somehow, she has parted from me, left someone else, an invalid, in her stead. It is what happened to my father. Ice melting, leaving only an imprint on wax. I know this. Even her old perfume has been changed; I smell dust on her. I wonder if this is simply what happens when we temporarily abandon our friends; do they grow rusty in our absence? Is she the way she is because of how I have treated her? In her slow movement about the house, I am reminded of my own absence, how I have refused to chart her old age.

Why did I not live with her , near her? Why? I feel as though I have let her die of thirst. She had given the heat of her life to me and now she has none for herself. The collusion between us is gone. Or perhaps
it was only a figment of my own imagination; in my loneliness I had created a figure of complete comprehension.

Laughing, she had leapt from incomprehension to incomprehension until now she lay still, sprained, brittle. I remember that, during all our conversations, one thing she said often was that she could not understand me at all. I don't understand you, Johnathan, she would say, smiling. And then by some
joke or trick, my dark thoughts would dissolve and I would follow her..but she had never followed me. Why did I not understand? I thought her ignorance an affectation, an endearment.

I should leave now. If I leave now, I can come back when I have forgotten this. I tell myself that she is my only hope, that I cannot alienate myself further. But I wonder, also, how I could have thought that we understood one another? The perfidy of my own memory shocks me until I realize that it is habitual. My father. Marenna. Victims of my own longing, transmuted and grafted beyond recognition.

I seem to have no respect for truth. It is only stuff to be molded into dreams, crutches. I realize that I do not want people to move or change. I want them to stand in the center of my room on a lazy susan, transformed by the stained skylight. I would sit up in bed and look at them and think, "They are here so they are here and I am not alone anymore"

Why can we not keep people encased within our minds? Is that why we write? In order to embalm what we love? I wish to bury Marenna's image in the earth. And then I think that nothing will keep; even the mind deteriorates, muffles, loses.

How many memories are shuffled and lost in our minds! It is the Escherian sleight of hand that exceeds robbery by erasing even its own wrist.

I'm going to pack, leave without a word. If I return, I will be cast out, fully, from my imagined intimacy with her; and then, our break will truly be final. How can we support our loves without allowing circumstance and the physical to interrupt our thoughts? The stream that is Marenna cannot be interrupted by the person that is Marenna. In my mind, they are twins. To save one, I abandon the
other. To abandon one is to save the other.

The image of the black nun becomes completely mine, bloats, divides, wavers, swells. The ripple of her skirts mark the edges of my mind. Where, indeed, are the barriers of one's mind? Have you pressed against these dams? I would like to press my cheek against the cool wall of my mind, a deep sleep. I will leave tomorrow morning at the latest.

How will she be hurt by this? I would wish to be her for a simple moment, to accept the indifference with which I do these things.

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