It’s two months ago.
We are in a kitchen in Rome
And your head bows slightly into the steam coming off the sink.
“Penny for your thoughts,” I say
Which causes the beginning of a smile to be drawn
At Etch a Sketch speed.
I’ve seen this before
A smile you share with your not-so-little little brother
A roguish rue,
That I will go down often over the years to come.
“Keep the change,” you say.
“I don’t need the pennies” and to prove the point, a strand of copper falls down between us.
I realize then that I’ve my sayings mixed up.
“Pennies from heaven,” I try again.
But compliments won’t do at this point
Ears are deaf to the tales hair tells
“Scratch my head, fool” you correct me, still smiling,
You know that only hands really know how to listen.
And so I start.
My fingers follow in time
Each copper string I touch plays a note you’ve written yourself over the years
These are some of my favorites:
At 32 you wrote: Swedish men aren’t worth having to eat pickled herring
At 28: Litter boxes are tolerable as long as each night I can wear its owner like a fur cap
At 25: Spain is cool except in the summer. But loneliness sucks year-round
At 20: I still love Beethoven even though he didn’t write anything for the flute.
At 16: High school is bad. High school in South Florida is unbearable. Hasta la vista, baby.
At 11: Older brothers are mean AND they smell.
At 5: My oldest sister gave me a purple flower and told me purple is best. I agree.
At 2: I’ve decided to be shy.
At birth: In 34 years, I will meet a boy, and I will marry him.