by Natalia Antonova
On nights like these I miss Opal. Her name, old-fashioned, alien in a family full of Suzies and Jacks, a round and soft, Oh-pahl, belongs in a poem to be read by this sort of moonlight.
She was seven years my senior, and not an “aunt” at all, with her girlish posture and fairy stories. Uncle Jack and Opal had been married for six months when Jack drove his car into a tree. She made a good widow, despite her fondness for the color white.
Everyone thought that Opal never married again because death was not a sufficient reason to let Jack go, but Opal simply couldn’t stand the idea of another well-meaning drunk with hairy arms. She was through with men. Her father used to beat her. Her mother grew fairy wings and fluttered away into the night, and did not leave a forwarding address. Years later, Opal would do the same, but I didn’t know it as I hugged my knees and listened to her spin her tales. The night, it seemed, would last forever. So would Opal. And my youth.
I am twice as old now as Opal was then. I leave the window open, letting the night wind ruffle my hair with trembling fingers, the way Opal did
Opal like a flower, in heaven’s… But I’m no poet. Just a receptacle of memory, a well at the bottom of the night, wherein the moonlight flows freely, polishing these gems in an eternal undertow of time.