Friday, May 22, 2009


for Rebecca

DAISY HAYES, I think about her, I think about her all the time, I think about that one spring when I knew her. Daisy Hayes and what she meant: everytime I think of her I think of the air, thick with pollen, thick with birds and bees and the sun, no hiding from it ever, shining down covering everything, breathing in the sun, the air thick and golden with it. And Daisy Hayes there, spinning with the wash in the backyard, me peering over the picketfence at her, her spinning, smiling, whiteflowered dress about her, whirling. Me thinking I was shouting, “Hey Daisy!” but never really but just standing in service, watching the whirl, Daisy dancing the bloomers like a partner, Daisy blooming all over the yard, me standing hoe in hand, breathing her sweet atmosphere.


DO YOU KNOW, do you know how it is when a bumblebee, so striped and fat with pollen coming off its little legs like dust, a trail behind it in the air, it can barely fly it’s so stuffed fat with substance? And so fat, so slow, you wonder how something that slow can stay airborne, how it can defy gravity with a belly so huge? And so absolutely universally obese and lethargic and pollen-drunk and bumble bumble bumble that it actually slows time, it makes everything around it just as slow, time crawls in the same intoxication? That was afternoons with Daisy Hayes, endless drooping dripping honey afternoons, on and on and on and on.


I REMEMBER, I, one afternoon, I stared at her bared shoulder for an entire hour. She was darning socks and her flowerdress had slipped down over her one shoulder and Daisy never noticed but continued as this miracle was revealed to me. I stared at it then, greedily I must admit, the secrets being unfolded before me I drank as deep as I could. The auburn curve of it, the contrast between her skin and the brightwhite flowerdress, as it curved up and into the crux and absolute heaven of her soft brown throat, so much more so for the shoulder, so much context to place heaven, to plot its definitive location. She looked up then, and before I looked away in shyness I saw that her expression was neither accusation nor invitation, but a question: “Is this it? Is this what we do?”


AND WHO WAS Anastasia, Anastasia O. Loveless, how was she to Daisy, what did she mean? Where Daisy was outside, Anastasia was forever in, never to enter into the sun’s backyard for fear of melanoma, an inside full of mothballs and dust, a thin air filled with damp and piercing like a cold, a shelf full of medicines, bones full of ache, a headfull of sawdust, a heartfull of blame was Anastasia O. Loveless. Daisy’s sickly aunt, sent for Daisy for household help, for cook, for cleaner, for page-turner floor-washer shelf-duster. For companion in the bitter small hours when thoughts of those who had left the sinking ship filled her tired mind, and she took it out on Daisy, so young where she was old, so free where she was chained, and of course Daisy took it because there wasn’t a corpuscle of resentment in her beautiful veins. And every time that ancient hag would screech “Daisy!”, making her name a curse where no curses should ever have been audible, Daisy would simply look at the ground, the honey pouring out of her, readying herself for the passage into the dank grayness that was the Loveless house; and I would stand sentient, stationary watching and wishing Anastasia hell for what she took from Daisy everytime she said her name.


BUT STILL, I feel I owe Anastasia something as she allowed me to bask in Daisy’s warmth for an entire springtime, she allowed me license to discover what youth really was, to find how “girl” is pronounced through adolescence to rest in the ear like a butterfly and move on through autumn sadness to winter want. When the seasons changed Daisy moved on, but not without first changing me forever, no without first striking me with a great flowered hammer that pressed into an undying deifined line of pretty that will not erase no matter how much adulthood I wash it with. I remember the smudge on her cheek planting tulip bulbs, I remember her hopping from shadow to shadow trying laughing not to step on the sunshine that was her anyway, I remember the flowering trees raining for her forever, I remember, I remember, I remember.


I REMEMBER a day it rained, harder than it ever has then or since and she was inside all day, it rained all the darker and harder for that and Daisy stared out the window out up into the sky the entire day. I watched her through my window, her watching the sky and almost crying, breathing that sickroom smell and missing the sun and I was jealous of it, her other lover, touched her more than I did, it did. Daisy sad and held fast by Anastasia all day long, held fast by thin medicine air and mothball dust, wishing for her savior beyond the clouds that would only return tomorrow, oh Daisy the only thing I liked at all about that day was I had you all to my greedy self, no bright and shining suitor to share you with then, you sad and lonely when we were finally alone, oh Daisy didn’t you know how long I’d waited, only to despair for what the sun was in you already I could never take away, to make you mine would only be to make you less, oh Daisy, you were taken from me long ago, long ago.


BUT NOW, this had gotten too down, too dour, far too much for Daisy Hayes or something in her memory as if that didn’t make her dust as it is. Daisy not dust but a river, not stopped by time but here and then over but replenished, falling over itself in a rush of daisies, in time that is thirteen, in love that is beginning, in morning sunshine gleam which is birth. Is there one dip to a customer? I don’t think so but wonder if the time spent there is ever the same, if returning is more pain than pleasure. It doesn’t matter, blooming on, the whiteflowered dress hanging in Salvation Army shop windows waiting, whispering on spring wind to hurry! hurry!


I REMEMBER the end or what became the end, just another beginning anyway, when I finally touched her and what that meant. I heard it from inside even, Anastasia screaming at her and Daisy politely apologizing for some imaginary misdeed and I came out the screendoor just in time to see Daisy bang out and run to the picketfence, crying. Anastasia didn’t follow; outside, you see, the enemy. Daisy crying at the fence, her tears almost falling in my yard, I didn’t know what to do had been waiting to speak for so long but when she was there all the gambits in the world melted into stupid. I ignored the sun and walked to her, crying, her forearms against the pickets pressing v’s into her soft flesh. I walked closer, close, I was going to say, “What’s wrong?” or “Why are you crying?” but Daisy too too smart for that and when I was close enough just grabbed my shirt and pulled into me tears all on my chest and I nothing but instinct put my hands softly to her hair and shoulder and held her, she crying softer now and I not even thinking about miracle but just holding her and then she slowly raising her face and tearstained and so beautiful and I didn’t know my lips were on hers, so soft, until Anastasia scraped the sky with “Daisy!” so loud we stopped and she looked once and ran to the house. When I think of it now it’s sad the last time I heard her name it was Anastasia’s curse, but sadder still the one time I held her it was over the picketfence, arms held too high to avoid the sharpness low enough for adults, all too soon to become for us as well.


WHEN SHE LEFT it was loaded into a stationwagon and then gone, no window-fingers pressed to pledge love, no long lasting looks back, Daisy stock still straightforward and I just watched from the front screendoor this time, minor change in locales. I began to wonder if it had been at all, maybe just some dream in sun-drunken back yard reverie, but the scowl on Anastasia to me was verification enough. I watched them pull away and let it slam shut and ran through to the back yard there with the sun, us both gazing over the fence, trying to prove her existence by feeling the void, watching the wind touching the places where she once was. Through the grass and saying she walked here, through the garden and saying she knelt here, through the clothes on the line and saying she danced here. The sun and me, holding hands and stranded, waiting for everything to begin breathing again.


Jason Gusmann said...

I wrote this for my wife 15 years before i met her. This post is for our second anniversary. Awwww. Don't worry - next week it's back to nearly psychotic ravings about death and guns.

Anonymous said...

loverly and beelightfully sweet

Maxine said...

Jason, this is truly a beautiful piece - sentimental, without being suffocating. I could feel the sun. I could her the bumble bumble bumble. I laughed at the bee toppling over. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Your wife continually thanks you for all that you write. You are truly a gift.

Tracey said...

This is lovely, thoughtfully eloquent writing. Your words have a way of conveying sound and movement in a very real way.

Anonymous said...

You wrote this 15 years before you met her? You truly have the soul of a poet.

Daisy Hayes is a flower and a whirling dervish and a will o' the wisp. I am a little bit in love with Daisy Hayes myself!

Anonymous said...

Jason, this is simply beautiful. You transported me to a sunny summer day, you took me back, way back, to my own beginnings, because we all have our own stories like that, everyone can relate to and feel the experience. What a diverse writer you are. Happy Anniversary!

Mariana Soffer said...

You sound kind of angry with the word. Or do I feel that cause I am angry? For me it's "No More Nathing"

Mental Mist said...

gorgeous, loved it :)!! this took me back to something i wasn't really sure about, thank you!