her or this color standing in for her or our brittle, fragile love.
Still, I note the cobalt blue bottle with its eye dropper top
at my end of the bar. Without too much trouble I could reach
across the wide bar top, give the bottle a half turn to see / read
its handwritten label on masking tape. I resist, pointedly refrain
from reaching for it, from holding it in my hand, from reading
whatever is scrawled on its label. This end of the bar is tidy but
busy: a shot glass, a candle, flame flickering in a red votive glass,
a stack of black cocktail napkins, a squat wide-mouth clear glass
bin of wine bottle corks, trays of various salts on staggered scales,
a pepper mill, a tumbler of bamboo cocktail spears or skewers.
Close enough are rows of upside down wineglasses, bottles
of Absinthe & pyramids of sugar cubes. In a tray, white paper-
sheathed bottles of bitters: black walnut, peach, Aztec chocolate.
Finally, I have to know, can’t leave until I ask. No sacrifice here:
I carefully ask the bartender, What’s in the blue bottle with
the eyedropper? Indulgent, he replies, Orange flower water & turns
the bottle so that I can read its label: “Orange H2O.” I think to ask,
Shouldn’t it be in an orange, or even brown, bottle?, but don’t.
The color still draws my eyes, still clouds my sight & scales my
judgement, & I guess will until I can no longer see. At Temple Bar
I refuse to contemplate the candle flame as echo of her ancient love
for Dad, or of our old sunken love & regard. I know the bottle
doesn’t contain Mom’s bitter tears, or a tincture of her silence mulled
with herbs, or an extract of her love for her daughters & friends
& realtor. I could reach up & across this wide gulf of absence & give
her memory a half-turn tweak. Finally, I refrain, pointedly resist.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo ~ 2013 | My Day 6
April 10, 2013