The lights were bright and I could have seen every detail about her but I did my best not look. Turned away and kept my eyes down and tried to concentrate on everything in the room except her. The stain on the coffee table, the hum of the fan, other people's voices, anything that was not her. I should have known it was a useless tactic
. Does not keep my eyes from instinctually finding her. Does not stop her from doing what she does best.
Oh Ruth holding up time with her beauty
. When you meet her, if you listen very closely, you can hear a siren song. After that she is with you always, haunting you in very small ways that are hard to detect. She can't explain it, nor can I. Our apologies are a waste
; it's just the way things are.
At the Pittock Mansion
, this is where it happens, where I catch the glimmer of her eye and get her attention with a lame joke. This is where it happens, where her song builds over the crowd and lulls me in, tunes my ears and my body to her frequency
alone. This is where it happens, where I am captured the minute I meet her and I figure it out.
Weeks or maybe days that dragged on like months pass before I am able to see her again but when I do it is just like the first. A gentle hum that pulled me right to her
; able to find her across distances like we were old souls meant to be together. The siren kept me singing for days. Or maybe months that passed like days.
But sirens are meant for you
to fall in love with. They do not fall in love themselves. I have the benefit of being well read. I know what happens to the mariners that follow that song. So, to avoid the fate of the Argonauts
, I enlisted my own personal Orpheus
to bail me out.
Years, real and tangible
, go by, and sometimes I catch myself looking into the ocean expecting to see her on the horizon sitting on a rock somewhere, or appearing to me at supermarkets or gas stations or bookstores, like every other siren in my life. When I have given up on ever seeing her again, there she is, like magic
, at a homecoming party for an old, old friend.
I do not look at first, but find every excuse to divert my attention and succeed. But then when filling several glasses of punch for several people she comes over and asks if I need an extra hand. And there it is, the soft pitch that sounded so familiar after so many years. She catches up with me in small talk. She is almost out of graduate school, she has joined the Peace Corps
, she opened her own business with her sister, she is doing so many wonderful things with her life. And she wants to know why I wouldn't join her, all those years ago. Oh, I thought, these things were not in the siren’s song
before. I did not have an answer.
Later after I have had a bit too much to drink I find myself talking to a friend about the past I had, or more so, did not have with her. What could have been, and what will never be. And he asks, do I regret resisting the siren's song. I did not give an answer to him but instead to myself. No, she would have stayed a siren had she captured me. Look, I have to tell him, can you see her there
. Used to, you could hear a song that ears like mine are fuel for. Now, there's wings, visible only in this sort of light