“When I swim-sing myself up the fifth glass of the kaleidoscope, when I’m waving your branches in my white robe, will I remember my life on Earth? Will Joseph? He is too young to even remember last year.” I fold my Bayonne leather petals under my bed and I make suggestions: “Joseph and I danced under Thundersky, we ran through hollow column petals with Mercedes Sosa, we spoke into the Saint Francis night.” I’m lithographing my words into the red paleosol Badlands as I run north to my child.
The spirit of the Mother of the Forest answers me from Mount San Jacinto.
“God is the Folder and Unfolder. We are too small to unfold all our memories, so when we’re looking at the five glasses of our kaleidoscopes, he promises to fold them. He gave you, Dominic, and Joseph to each other, and he gave you your memories: he won’t suffer their loss. When the seventeenth day of each ouranic month folds over, you’ll lay my branches down and he’ll unfold you a memory.”
“Whichever one you would ask for if you could ask. Your mouth will be so full of psalms that you can’t, but he knows. Your soul needs a memory to fill it up every now and then, a rest from praise.”
Together, the Mother of the Forest and I say, “But the eating of the memory is also praise; it is the dissolving of the wafer on the tongue, it is the drop of wine down the throat. God made these memories take on flesh like a folded foliation. They are as much a sign to me of God as the words about Jesus in the Bible.”
She tells me, “When you eat a memory, it takes years. You live your life again. You will yourself to enjoy it without complaint this time. You savor. You sleep. You stretch. You remember your son’s sweet face and your husband’s hand. You remember every flower and every sidewalk. You remember the years of Good. The years of Otherwise have shrunken, fallen away in atrophy, and you remember freely the years of Good. From the kiss in the hallway to the Ancient Playground, you remember.”
All my clothes are wet with tears. “How does God care for them?”
The Mother of the Forest says, “He folds them in two ways: in his palms and in red paleosol bowls. He cools them in two ways: by passing them back and forth between his hands and by pouring cold water from the river of life over them in the bowls. He warms them in two ways: by folding his hands over them and by placing fruit from the tree of life over them. He looks at them; he looks away.
“My canopy is older than you think: he places the bowls there, up on the leaves that touched the hem of his garment, up in the Cretaceous paleosol that stretches into the exosphere. The solar wind unfolds photosynthesis and warms the bowls.”
“Are there many bowls?” I ask stupidly.
“Yes,” she says.
“No,” she says.
“He places a bowl on every canopy of every sequoia in this fifth glass forest, but every sequoia is one sequoia—me,” says the Mother of the Forest.
“There he folds the billions and billions of years’ worth of the universe’s memories for every star, every cetacean, every diatom, every grain of cosmic dust.
“The wedding feast celebrates the marriage of the Lamb, and the meal is our memories; that’s why there is no hunger in heaven: the consumption takes place in undulations of yom for the duration of eternity.
I’d tried to write every memory but I’d failed. I’ll fail again. But now I know there’s nothing to remember. I quit lithographing my words into the red paleosol Badlands when I run south to work. I throw out the Bayonne leather petals: I’ll always be walking back up the aisle in Orangecrest: I’ll always be laughing about the pollen with Dominic on the Mason Street bridge: I’ll always have my three-year-old’s arms around my neck: Glory be.