My husband Jim managed to fool me again. I can see his twinkle and his grin, though he has gone, gone away.
I thought all the fowl had left the small pond Jim photographed on his way back from work one day. He made me a print of his photograph, which is reminiscent of a Monet painting, spring yellow-green reflected in lily pad-strewn water where a male bird glides in from stage left.
After he died, every time I passed that pond–which is on the route both to my husband’s place of work and our daughter’s school–I saw that empty pond. Morosely, I intended to take a photograph of it this spring, as a commentary of sledgehammer-like finesse on how everything has dissipated and changed.
After weeks of holding this thought in my head, I finally pulled out my camera and approached the pond.
At the moment I got close enough and prepared to take a shot, my peripheral vision caught a movement on my left. A particularly handsome bird, a twin of the one Jim’s photograph portrayed, was walking to the water’s edge, where he plunked himself into the water and began gliding.
Thwarted. The pond was not empty after all.
John Hiatt has a song about departure. It is sung so lustily, with such spirit and absence of yearning for what has “gone, gone away”that it transforms all that has been lost into a kind of liberation for the singer left behind–even when Hiatt slips midstream (literally without missing a beat) from a laundry list of flotsam no one would miss into a yearning void into which one would think anyone would have fallen.
Everything on the list turns out to be a metaphor for the woman who has left: “gone, like a Nixon file, gone, gone away,” “gone, like my landlord’s smile, gone, gone away.”
It quickly becomes clear that whatever is gone has not willingly been cast off.
Gone like my last paycheck, gone, gone away
Gone like the car I wrecked, gone, gone away
Gone like a fifth of gin, gone, gone away . . . .
His voice strong and gravelly, singing a melody and strumming a guitar track it is impossible not to nod along with, Hiatt explains what has gone, switching to images which ought to ache and linger like the whiny strings of a self-pitying country song:
Gone like the furniture, gone, gone away
Gone like the rest of her, gone, gone away
My baby’s gone away
Gone like the silhouette there by the bed where she undressed
Gone like the candlelight where we made love so sweet and bright
Gone like the one last turn she took before Atlanta burned
Gone like everything I’ll earn, gone, gone away
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon