Laying in a sauna looking at the triangular light patterns on the wall. Someone had the thought to install a sand-filled hourglass, mounted on a piece of wood with tick marks, 5, 10, 15. The digital clock outside the sauna, beyond the glass door, counts the seconds, but the second counter has a broken bulb, so the numbers are dissected in a kind of ancient Mesopotamian language. I’m taken back to a childhood moment when I was walking in a basement underneath some swimming pool where my brother swam in a freestyle race. With my mother’s change, I bought a Fruit Roll-Up that was a shade of yellow ochre; I still remember that color, the cellophane in my hands, the way it tasted, the smell of chlorine in the air, and the vibrations of the swimmers kicking and gasping above me.

I swim gracefully with a soft breaststroke, I glide, watching the autumn sun flicker on the water’s surface, the light show it makes at the bottom of the pool. Feeling the tide of elementary school children entering and exiting, adults in and out of work, I find this lane all to myself and I think of you, I think of the imaginary schools of fish below me and their unshakable desire to swim together for all eternity. The patterns they make with their synchronized movement are like smoke signals, the light they reflect against their silver scales. Oh how I’m filled with this childlike desire, this sense of urgency, to hold you by the hand and show you this magnificent display of nature. Because your smile is like an elixir that I want to collect in a tiny bottle. Because I know that our eternity - you and me - is not eternal. 

On that fateful evening, we were massaging each other’s feet in someone else’s apartment. You were slightly tipsy on someone else’s German gluten-free beer. A half-eaten rotisserie chicken was sitting in the refridgerator. I don’t remember what was on TV. Suddenly you got a call that your mother went to the emergency room, with chest pain, pain in her left arm. It was morning over there. “I’ve been dreading this call for 15 years,” you said. Suddenly the rest of all life seemed very inconsequential, floating on that sixth floor apartment into the unknown. You stared horrified into space. I called your mother in my thoughts and held her like a doll in my hands. I whispered “Dai Ko Myo” signing the characters on her forehead, over her body. Between your shock and your tears you didn’t see me praying for your mother, whispering to her as she crossed to the other side. 

I thought I’d tell you now.

Swimming here I think of my mother, wondering where she is, wondering what she is thinking, as if she’s already gone. Sometimes I hear her voice when I’m drawing or painting, she tells me to add some red here or there, she reminds me of the mathematical proportions of the human face and maybe she’ll say with an equal sense of pride and defeat, “I think you’re better than me now.” Floating here I think of my mother living the life she always wanted to live, before me, after me, with me, without me.

大 Dai
光 Ko
明 Myo

The great shining light. © 2022
(there are other sarah rose’s, but this is the new one)