The blind thrust earthquake killed my mother’s classroom aide’s son and husband in their beds, Northridge tenement stucco stories crushed together under a covering of dust. Angela. She was from Manila, nila from Sanskrit for indigo tree, or flowering mangrove. Her face on the cover of Time did not belong—no more belonging left, only suffering, the universe made self-aware in pain. We all feared aftershocks, the fault. Our own condemned, we had to move while foundations repaired and walls shored up against the next vibration, the viola in California, the quiver of the angelus. Across town, in a nearly identical apartment, removed from habits and glances, learning to ignore notions like providence, homecoming, and biding my time. Blue quietude descended, as unforeknown as the angel of a furious annunciation, a lake without ripples shimmering, paper napkins blown in a gust. A whisper (not in parentheses) from the great blank outside, a spoor newly scented on the arid wind of ethics. The flowers are small, bell-shaped, blossom in late summer or early autumn. They’re blue, or red, the kind everyone recognizes but no one can name.
Shawangunk Review Volume XXXI Copyright © 2020 by Thomas Festa. All Rights Reserved.