In a flash of chrome our banana-seat bikes tore us down Highway 2 towards the lake. The entire small town of Ashland swelled on a hill, rolling down into the point of it–the moody waters of Lake Superior. Pedaling downhill we took a short-cut behind Frankie’s Pizza where a gravel trail wound through the dense green. The crickets and cicadas filled our ears against the rush of air from our speed. And then, abruptly, the trees canopying over us cleared and there it was—the small field of thistle and weeds that led toward the stone ledge that dropped four feet to the water below.
Mike and I had no need for words. Our slothful summer days were filled with them. He was my cousin and my best friend, and to be eleven without permission is, I think, the last enchantment of childhood. We dropped our bikes and ran toward the ledge, the milkweed overwhelming us with that bitter wild scent. The blue sky seemed to span around us, leaving me and Mike in this world. His hazel eyes flecked in
the sun as we grinned at each other and held hands. This was ours. This was our place. This was our moment; and we knew, somehow, that we’d never forget it.
Tank-tops, cut-off shorts, chucks and all—we swung our tanned our arms and counted out loud, looking only at each other, giddy.
I remember soaring through the fishy air, I remember the feel of his hand in mine, and then looking straight ahead at the same time we jumped into the cool, green water below, limitless.
Nineteen years later, we sit in my sunny kitchen with the yellow curtains I had made, with Billie Holiday’s sad voice coming in static through the speakers. I remember the taste of the bitter black tea and that smell of the lake coming through the windows. My hands are oily in a rainbow of smudged pastel colors as I create a field of flowers on the paper. He sits across from me, hunched over his clay, molding the silky gray into the form of an aching man. The image of him—he crippled up with Rheumatoid Arthritis, his hips, shoulders, ankles, and knees all replaced by metal. As I shade the field, I watch his crafted hands push and peak the clay. His wrists will go someday, too.
“Hey Amos,” he calls me. “I think my next sculpture will be our day—our day at the Swimlot.”