Écho now includes original creative writing, this issue features Razielle Aigen’s Jersey Beckons, a hybrid of poetry and prose, nostalgia and the in/accuracy of memory.
so much time has passed, the photographs have yellowed. autumn leaves, still green, the future hasn’t happened yet. no traces remain. no pictures left. this is not a picture show. it has yet to be determined wether it was a revision of the past or vision into a future.
the coiled calla lilies collaborate to ensure that the clarity of vision gained at the moment of awakening lingers, like taste of coconut cream pie that you used to order on thursdays as the june bugs hovered under the neon sign of the famous Claremont diner, in the east end of Clifton, New Jersey. each time you walk through the door, you pump a nickel in the juke box, and it plays:
“…blue moon, you saw me standing alone
without a dream in my heart
without a love of my own
blue moon, you know know just what i was there for
you heard me saying a prayer for
someone i really could care for….”
and the plants in the window reach silently in photosynthetic attraction to the light, she slips out of the vinyl booth, steps up to the metallic rimmed, sea-foam green, formica counter, and orders: “a malt”. and she happens to be wearing a yellow dress, a yellow dress with white trimming that from that moment on you will think of whenever you are brought back to the day you met in late september, when the sun still warms but the chill in the wind carries the promise of winter months and november mornings, mornings when you will be waking up at dawn, the moon still a visible sliver, the first snow will have fallen and you are amazed to find footprints already in the snow. looking up you will notice that the church steeple is the only thing darker than the sky and you recall the time when the organ player, inviting you to hear him rehearse for the spring concert, took you up to the organ pit and you felt the vibrations in the pews. as the sound resonates through the empty church, you discover that the mirrors are positioned so that the organist can see the faces of the devoted. but then, in late september, november was still a far away point on the horizon, you could get away with wearing a summer dress. now, that is your memory: yellow dress, yellow dress white trimming.
as the leaves were beginning to turn and fall from their branches, she appears again, this time in the steel and glass greenhouse annexed to the public library. coat unbuttoned, scarf untied, you kept your hat on as you walked through the condensed moisture and warmth of natural light without exchanging a word, as if speech would have broken the spell of the plants, plants with funny leaves shaped like moose antlers, plants with tiny flowers that took the better part of the year just to show up, plants that divulge nothing and pass no judgement.
you take comfort in being remembered in this way. the same comfort taken in the sound of crackling static on the radio, the sound that obstructs the clarity of the music just enough to be reminded of the true nature of the medium. you tune the dial to receive the image of yourself, obscured by the in coherence of dream and the dilution of memory of an other over time. . .so much time.
Razielle Aigen lives, writes, and makes art in her hometown Montreal, where she also practices and teaches yoga.