It’s just after Christmas and Ann and I are sitting on her leather sofa in her home in Boulder, stretched out, our feet entwined, drinking red wine and pretending we’re talking to Dad.
Jode: It’s a warm California late January afternoon when Nanz rolls you outside to sit in the sun. At the metal threshold of the door, she lifts the back wheels and you grip the armrests tight with your long pale fingers, cry out you’re falling! I say “Hold on” Dad, it’s OK.” It’s the Parkinson’s: you don’t now where your body is in space. Nanz sets you facing the high late morning sun and zips you into your down jacket. She puts on your ski hat and you say, “Thank you, Dear,” polite as ever. I say, “You look like a Ski Patrolman, Dad.” You sit very straight in the wheelchair. You close your eyes, tilt your face to the sunlight. Your skin is smooth and pale. The sun is warm and I lie down on the cold concrete of the driveway at your feet, look up past the metal footrests of the chair and the toes of your baggy grey socks, your face in repose, your ski hat framed by the clear blue sky. I watch for a very long time, wondering where you are traveling. When you briefly open your eyes from the dreaming, you look down at me. You don’t seem surprised to see me from so far above, as if you are already flying. You twiddle your fingers in a hello and close your eyes again, tilt your head again to the light. I think you are sleeping but you open your eyes and look down, say, “What are you doing down there?” I say, “Dad, where have you been?” You float your hands up and circle them, like snow swirling, like flakes falling up.
Ann: It’s a cold Ohio January winter night and I’m nine that time when you take me with you to Boston Mills. We drive through the dark night, the windshield wipers going switch critch against the ice and you roll down the window with the handle and while you’re steering, reach out with your ungloved hand and swipe at the freezing. In the old seat next to you, the heater is blowing hot air on my face. I have my plaid book bag and when we get to the parking area, all the lights have auras. You hide the fruit pies and the orange soda in the snow under the back wheel of the VW for after and I take my book bag on my shoulder and my skis cradled in my arms and we walk across the icy lot. I put mine between the pegs near the Chalet and you put yours on, stepping into the bindings. I go sit by the fire pit, do my math. Then I’m done; I go outside into the night and put the cables around the back of my boots and pole on over to Buttermilk. The T bar is so heavy and it pulls me off my feet. I go crashing and the guy running the lift stops the whole machine and helps me up and get ready. I look over my right shoulder. I’m cold. He says, “It’s coming, now, honey” and I hop up and hold on tight all the way up the iced tracks. At the top, I slip off and the T bar goes thwang as it releases into the dark. I can’t find you You’re patrolling. I ski down. At the bottom, I turn around, and go over to Tiger. I have to tinkle bad but I ride up the Chairlift anyway. The stars are so light and I’m holding it back and at the top when the Chairlift lefts me off, I fall down and I can’t get back up and I can’t hold it back. I just can’t. The night is so bright, I can’t see. The wet is freezing when you find me, you hold me tight and I wipe my face on the nylon of your red Ski Patrol jacket. You say, “Princess, it’s OK. Let’s go down.” And then you ski me home.
In digital space, chairlift juxtaposes one image from multiple views with a cyclical text. This lullaby I spoke to calm my father on his difficult nights. This piece is for my sister Ann.