Monday, April 18, 2011

The Skirt

I am trying out this new group called the Red Dress.  It is a creative writing group and each week you get a prompt.  This week is to describe a memory  of something ( a certain color, I can't say which one,)  without actually using the colors word.   See if you get it. :)

The blazing silk made it's way down my legs, it's fluid crimson trickling in the contrail of my gate.  The bias cut skirt dared to play a game of peek a boo with my black leather boots.  I picked up the pace, my parched skin longed for any shade to quench the toasted apples of my cheeks. Gravel crunched under the weight of my soul and shoe.  Beneath the tent ahead, loved ones convened, pointlessly fanning themselves as if to ward off the scorching afternoon sun.   I joined them and we stood as one being, fighting a loosing battle against the vampiric heat that drew the moisture from our skin before it ever had the chance to escape as droplets through our burning foreheads, necks and hairlines. 

Over a dozen long stem roses stood sublime and motionless in a vase adjacent to the shiny black casket.  The only movement was the intermittent breeze generated by the uncomfortable twisting and fanning of sweltering bodies gathered together to say good by.  I worried momentarily about the older folks coming to pay their last respects to my grandfather.  The sun was brutal, not affording us even one moment to grieve.  There was no grace given, not even the gossamer skin of the aged was spared.  Out of concern and respect I took my place standing off to the side of the tent to make way for the generation ahead of me.  Together we created a procession of time waiting for our turn,  younger, older, dead.  

There was no grass in this historic cemetery, and the trees were a native desert variety that offered little hope or comfort.  The pea gravel was bone colored and reflected itself in the sun, creating a glare that even the best RayBan's couldn't withstand.  Dusty hispanic relics embellished the mounds of their deceased residents.  Chihuahua statues, white crosses, the Virgin Mary and brightly colored silk flowers marked their lives in the festive Mexican tradition.  

In this cemetery each family was responsible for providing a memorial or head stone for their loved ones.  There were no rules, as evident to the eclectic tokens placed on top, next to and around the graves.  Our family had chosen a slab of veined, emerald marble that was once a mismeasured counter top for a hotel in Vegas.  It had been sitting in my garage for over ten  years, a yard sale find for 30 dollars.  I had hoped that one day it would be a coffee table in my living room, but in the end it was probably always meant to mark my grandfather's grave.  

Grandpa Jo was born in Mexico, his English was broken and covered in a thick, spicy, Hispanic glaze, even after years of living in Arizona.  He loved to eat cactus and dance the cumbia with pretty ladies.  He knew strange things like how to boil coyote bones to cure arthritis.  He ate and grew peppers and aloe plants and loved to garden.  He was daring and brash at times, especially if he had a few cervezas.  He would have loved my blood stained lipstick that screamed at my skirt's inappropriate, hue.  In life Grandpa didn't shy away from color or style.  I smiled to myself as I recalled the little dash of silky Tabasco he himself often sported, tucked in the front pocket of his suit jacket.  He would have thought I looked festive in such a deep, saucy, shade of amour and I can only imagine that he would have approved of my attire, proud that I stood out, a brazen statement against the stoic black suits and dresses. 

As the funeral began I was handed a rose, held at my side it's color fused with the soft, silk creases of my skirt.  I wanted to dance like we  used to when I was a child.  I wanted him to snatch the rose from my hand and clench it between his teeth like he did in life when he tried to be macho and daring in a humorous way.  If he could see me he would have laughed that crusty, barrel laugh beneath his gray handle bar mustache and called me mija!  We would have danced and my waiting, lifeless skirt would have caught fire, twirling with Grandpa Jo.

I realize after reading this, it is slightly flat and devoid of real emotion.  To be honest I think that is how I felt that day.  I wasn't as close to my grandfather as I wanted to be for different reasons.  I remember him fondly and I miss him, but there was a distance there.  I think I can see this in how I portrayed his funeral.