matt pond PA

June 9, 2016

Garden Vegetables in Curried Coconut Milk.

Every time I string words together and leave their knotted vines exposed in the arms of a towering maple, I wonder.

What happens if this is the last time we speak? (This goes all the way out to the Time Warner customer service representatives who’ve been the centrifuge of so much pain.)

Will you see me getting smaller in your rearview, waving my broadsword in the air, stomping my feet and shouting at the sky? The less and less becoming more and more, slowly evaporating in the watery air, down and out into an impressionistic naught.

I would prefer to be appropriately adorned in my mausoleum, regarded rightly in the afterlife. The narrative requires at least one scene where I’m proudly marching down the middle of the sun-showered street in my finest trousers. The virtual tombstone should have no fewer than one exclamation point, one expletive, one engraved image of a heroic parking space victory.

¡Because every moment on earth is perilous!

Sharks! Jets! Behind the wheel, driving my van like an undercover cop, on the trail of some seriously suspicious thin air! My wide-eyed brother used tell me that you could drown in a spoonful of water! (He also ate ants.)

I seek thrills in the most mundane moments of the night and day. I prefer running after dark in only black attire. I can fit inside a modest-sized industrial clothes dryer. How does it really feel to be whacked with the weed whacker? And what does gasoline actually taste like?

Yesterday the rain became cold and thick, thunderbolts cracked over the mountains. I sprinted through the weighted water feeling extreme and electric!

These innocuous highs could turn into some kind of suburban folklore. The hurdling yodeler who lost his life somewhere between Lucas and Linderman. If you listen to the wind, you can still make out the strained gravelly refrains.

From here to eternity, goodness is the goal. Unfortunately my words and actions don’t always reflect the best I’ve got to give. I am a stumbler, I am a mis-speaker, a dry-land flounderer, a caustic cosmonaut, the patron saint of forgotten birthdays, loose change and lingering fluffs of lint. But for the rest of the day, I’d like to dwell in the valley of graceful, blameless, historic nobility. Powdered wig and all.

In the early summers after my parents split up, I would visit my dad by myself. Piper, Peter and Anna were all still angry and defiantly attending soccer camp. So it was just me and him.

My father lived by himself in the big yellow house we grew up in, on a mountainside in Jefferson, New Hampshire. The bright clapboards and blue shutters faced due west over a stonewall, out onto breathtaking snowcapped peaks in winter and the lush explosion of green in the warm seasons. I was prone to excessive bouts of spreading out across the grass and listening to the world murmur at dusk.

On the earlier side of one spectacularly stunning sunset, my father put the dining room table and chairs in the middle of the field above the house as if we were on a makeshift New England safari.

He cooked up a mock-Thai meal: garden vegetables in curried coconut milk. His humanitarian visits to Southeast Asia provided him an inside track to some of the hotter chiles. When he asked me how hot, I raised my chin and told him that I was not afraid.

Two small, bygone figures in a faraway meadow appear. They sit and eat as the sun slowly sinks over the highlands, the deepening red color wheel of light matching their contorted faces.

It was the hottest food I’ve ever devoured. And neither of us would back down. We were pretending to be the men of westerns, the soldiers in World War II movies. We laughed and perspired all the way to the last bite.

When I close my eyes, I’m still there.

My father was a great and terrible person. If I mull over the entirety of his existence and try to make sense of our intertwined lives, I invariably fail to understand.

The imprint of that night is how I want to remember him. Charming, ridiculous and full of real love. He could convince anyone of anything by making simple shapes in the air with his hands. And I wholly believed in that evening. That’s enough.

Me and dad