(unpublished essay, 2009)
Last nite we were at a bbq up in Lincoln Heights, way up on a hill, digging the panorama of a zillion backyard roman candles and rockets and pyrotechnics. The whole city looked wild, out of control, pyromanic. It was gorgeous. Crazy gorgeous. Then I get home to do some writing and check the email and find out a lady we know, a regular at all the summer bashes, was killed in our neighborhood when her house caught fire very early this morning, apparently from an errant firework. Jesus…
She was at all the summer’s parties. Tall and mild, in black, hair a wild fauvist red, she’d hang with Gus, with Bob, with Josefina laughing and chatting never loud. She wore big ugly clunky shoes. It was her trademark, that red hair and those big clunky shoes. When I drove past her house today it was a charred ruin, all ashes and cinders. Pieces of furniture scattered on the lawn. There were heaps of clothes and a single clunky shoe. I wish I’d not scene that shoe. I wish I’d not driven down her street.
The dead. We party and laugh still, but think of them. We think of the dead when we see a few extra beers still in the cooler. We think of the dead when there’s a few extra pulls left on the joint. We live, thinking of the dead. We party, thinking of the dead. We laugh, and the thoughts dispel into the night air.