When I first saw Rosalie, I felt as though I had hit the game-tying home-run. When I noticed her looking at me, it was like striking out three batters. When she walked over and talked to me, I could actually hear my bones breaking and re-shaping themselves into a creature with better posture. I followed her around like the train of a red carpet gown. I held her hair when she did the like Romans did and feasted beyond digestive means. In return, she wove a web of limitless understanding and draped it around my aching shoulders. She taught me how to make paella; she showed me how to identify poisonous berries; she reminded me of every wonder-filled childhood memory I had that only came to me when I looked at photographs. I thought she would be mine forever.
But, Rosalie met Marguerite and everything changed. They were inseparable. Marguerite the classically beautiful, Marguerite the infinitely wise, Marguerite this and Marguerite that — Marguerite until the cows dropped dead from their own methane gas. I had seen her once before and thought she seemed out of place, like a painting hanging at a tilt when all the other frames were perfectly straight on the wall. To Rosalie, though, Marguerite was the grand dame of art and all things anthropological. The more time they spent together, the less Rosalie taught me. I thought I would die of intellectual malnutrition.
Then one day, a letter arrived in the mail for me. I had been accepted into an international program to study and save populations of honeybees. Rosalie and I were living together at that time and I told her the good news. She congratulated me, gave me a guidebook for the Yucatan Peninsula and a compass key ring. She did not help me pack, she did not hug me as she once did when I succeeded in completing a challenging task. She just put her hands around my shoulders and said, “Calvin, my dear, you will bring the earth back with new dirt.”
I never saw her again. I heard stories along my travels, though, stories of a Rosie and Margaret who drove across wastelands and everything they touched turned to amethyst and diamond dust. I thought I saw my Rosalie when I was in Nepal. I heard a voice like a constellation shimmering, I smelled the spices of simmering rice, but when I went to get a close look, I saw a wolf running with a red fox, wildly beautiful and eternally wise.
When I happened upon my reflection in a lake the next day, I saw my face was red like Georgia clay. When I looked at my hands, I saw they were no longer made of flesh and bone but had turned into fresh earth, as though someone had dug up an old herb garden to replace it with a giving tree. From growing to sowing to relinquishing and refurnishing, every cell and blood vessel transformed into chambers of chloroplasts, the vines of gods plunge into the core of my ancient fragility. They pulled out the beating heart of a crooked matador who had only eyes for the daughter of the forest floor. Rosalie, my beloved, drunk on the elixir of Marguerite, the creator of every door.