Friday, January 7, 2011

My Sweet Lenora

No question, I was sweet on Lenora, but the girl loved only rain and pretty little birds and the goddamn flowers of the field.

She was one of those dreamers who liked to wax poetic about things, including those things I just mentioned, but not exclusively those things, not by a long shot. Oh, lord no. Lenora had some serious longing for the world. I believe she might put it that way, or even some way a good deal fancier than that.

She read poets who talked about trees and the moon and dying voles --I think they were voles-- and other such things, and these poems would make her gasp. The color would rise in her cheeks and I could almost feel her precious heart fluttering from across the room.

Often she would insist on reading poems aloud to me --a fair number of them were about birds, and many specifically about long-legged birds standing so quietly (poised was I believe a word commonly employed) in a marsh as either darkness fell or the sun began to make an appearance. I tried to listen intently to these poems, because that's what love will do to a man. And though I am surely no professor, if I had to say what I took away from the poems Lenora read to me it would be the message that at any given moment every damn thing you can imagine might just be up and fixing to die.

"Life is short," I would say, nodding my head.

"Life is precious," Lenora would say, tears sometimes welling in her eyes. "Life is so, so precious and rare."

"Well, I don't know as it's exactly rare," I might say, but only if I was starting to feel like I'd had a bit too much poetry to eat.

Lenora was a fetching gal. I'll be damned if she wasn't. And she had a view of the world that was comely as well, even if I did often find it difficult to square with my own. She was almost more adorable than I could stand, the way she would stir that strawberry powder --which I was pretty sure was carcinogenic, an opinion I shared with her-- into her milk and blow the mess full of bubbles with a red plastic straw.

I have to pause, God help me, after conjuring such a memory.

Eventually, however, my sweet Lenora and I had a conversation in which she admitted that were she forced to choose between subtracting a single homely tree or bird from the world or parting ways with me, she would choose the homely tree and the bird. Smitten as I admittedly was, that was just more batshit-crazy nonsense than I was willing to put up with. It just flat-out was, and when I said I was going home to Sioux City to see if I could get back my old job dealing blackjack, she let me go.

A lot of years have gone by now, though, and I've had plenty of time to wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried just a little bit harder to be a different sort of man. Every few months I'll get to pining, and I'll type Lenora's name into the internet, even as I know damn well that she doesn't exist in that world and never will.

Still, I like to imagine that she's out there somewhere, on her knees in the wet grass, crying out my name as I'm crying out hers. What about people? I sometimes say to Lenora in my head. Sometimes I shout it out loud. What about love, little gal? Aren't them things precious too?