She seemed like a fragile flower, petrified as though she had inhaled the dust of late-summer’s drought, the summer my mother came home. By then our two-flat felt like a crooked house, three generations listing, top-heavy with age and infirmity. At the window she dozed and tilted in her chair, wheels locked. I learned to slide out the front door unnoticed, happily avoiding her impossible gaze. Vigilant on my tricycle with the big front wheel, I traveled the neighborhood. My uniform, a babushka and a too-big leather bomber jacket, I patrolled Francisco Avenue to Devon and back up. I scoured backyards, houses, alleys and gangways inspecting people. Years later someone asked me, “What is the silence of loss?” I said, “I am still the passerby, head down, studying the cracked pavement, wondering if it will withstand the guttural din of the delivery trucks, smashing their way down this narrow alleyway.
(This is a retake of a story that, for me, is travelling a road, with no end in sight.)