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Dear Elzie

August 27, 2009 by · No comments

Sunny Montgomery

Photo: Caitlinator

Do you remember that Christmas when Grandma Kalisz sent those pink faux fur matching coats that came down to our ankles and came with matching muffs? We never quite understood those muffs; they reminded us of our stuffed toys and so we were more inclined to give them names and put them in our beds at night than we were to wear them to church on Sunday.

In fact, I can’t actually recall ever wearing those coats out of the house. Mostly it seemed they stayed in our closet top and mom would pull them out only a couple times a year, to pose us in front of the fireplace or next to a snow covered magnolia so that she could take our picture and send it to Grandma: her two precious granddaughters like little pink chinchillas with orange hair down to their waists- so ridiculously adorable that they might just stay that way forever.

And I remember one night when, after we were put to bed, you and I decided to climb into our closet and try on those coats again. This time just for ourselves, but indeed- we were just too adorable and so we marched downstairs where mom and dad were sitting on the loveseat against the front window, each with a glass of red wine beside them. You know, I believe it was the only time I ever saw dad take a drink or for that matter the two of them side by side by like that and seeming so natural; it was the first time you or I ever had a taste of red wine.

They let us dip our fingers into their glasses for a taste and then once more and then “Really girls, back up to bed. And hang up those coats.”

Standing in my kitchen now, a grown woman, I am remembering those coats and I want to write you a poem so that you remember too, and so, quickly now, for fear that this feeling moves on and this memory stays just that and I never get around to writing this poem, I fetch a bottle of red wine from beneath my kitchen sink and set to uncorking it just a quick as I can.

You see Elzie, this is a thing I often do- rush about and move too hurriedly and ultimately make things take much longer than they should have and apparently this evening is no exception. I wind up snapping the corkscrew off in the cork during my frenzy. I begin to fluster and I’m considering running out and fetching another bottle but instead I grab the closest sharp instrument- a pocket knife- and begin trying to break out the cork crumb by crumb.

I don’t have the patience for this. I dash to the tool closet grab a hammer and nail, I imagine I can put a hole through the cork and at least get a small opening to pour through. That doesn’t work either and so I take a Phillips flathead and again begin whittling out the cork crumb by crumb. Once I get it small enough I can just push it through, and when I do, a mist of red wine sprays into my face and onto my clothes. Sticky but nonetheless triumphant, I retreat to the kitchen where I attempt to strain out bits of cork with a spaghetti strainer.

So anyway, Elzie. That was my wine debacle, but where was I? Oh yes, I wanted to write you this poem about our pink fur coats and that night we tasted red wine for the very first time.

Right now, the sun is setting and I’m sitting on my front porch, still wiping pieces of cork out of my mug. I am chain smoking cigarettes and I’ve already forgotten what the point of this poem was supposed to be. I can’t help but imagine that you are somewhere in New York, right now, sitting alone at a bar after you’ve told Nick that you’d be at the gym (even carried your gym bag down to the bar) and sipping on tall glasses of red wine and charming all the strangers who were lucky enough to take the seat next to yours. And later- much later- past midnight, Nick will leave the house and go looking for you, worried. He’ll call the bars first then a couple of your friends and he’ll swear to himself that this is the Last Time.

But what’s so different, sometimes, between the first and last of something? That first taste of wine is often as sweet as the last, isn’t that right sister? So maybe this poem wasn’t meant to have a point after all. Maybe I’ve gotten too drunk. I suppose its time to get to bed now where I’m sure to slip into strange lucid dreams and you and I will finally sit down together and have a glass of wine, laugh about those muffs again (yours was named Muffy) and by sunup, we’ll have figured out the point of this together.

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