Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old-Time Love

An excerpt from Jazz by Toni Morrison

It’s nice when grown people whisper to each other under the covers. Their ecstasy is more leaf-sigh than bray and the body is the vehicle, not the point. They reach, grown people, for something beyond, way beyond and way, way down underneath tissue. They are remembering while they whisper the carnival dolls they won and the Baltimore boats they never sailed on. The pears they let hang on the limb because if they plucked them, they would be gone from there and who else would see that ripeness if they took it away for themselves? How could anybody passing by see them and imagine for themselves what the flavor would be like? Breathing and murmuring under covers both of them have washed and hung out on the line, in a bed they chose together and kept together nevermind one leg was propped on a 1916 dictionary, and the mattress, curved like a preacher’s palm asking for witnesses in His name’s sake, enclosed them each and every night and muffled their whispering, old-time love. They are under the covers because they don’t have to look at themselves anymore; there is no stud’s eye, no chippie glance to undo them. They are inward toward the other, bound and joined by carnival dolls and the steamers that sailed from ports they never saw. That is what is beneath their undercover whispers.

My grandparents - who showed me what true old-time love is all about. My grandpa passed away a year ago this past weekend. Both my grandparents had Alzheimers - but the one thing they remembered was that they loved eachother. I remember watching my grandpa, in the nursing home, chasing after my grandma like a little boy, flirting with her every chance he got. They had two separate beds in the nursing home, but would fall asleep holding hands across the divide. And even when they couldn't remember their grandchildren's names, they could still sing "their" song to eachother - "I Love You Truly". Now that, that is old-time love.