Thursday, May 21, 2009

She spoke in the school-girlish strains of old women in darkened rooms trapped with the faintest delight...asked that I bring her a cup of coffee and "oh, a cookie?"or something sweet. The halls were mahogany. The steps curved upward; doors and chair rail built in another time before us when people were smaller--then the light at the landing and the pleasant smile she extended as I reached her. She took the bag with a little laugh, didn't eat or drink--just let ithe bag sit between us like a monument to her worthiness. We sat in a room full of books: against walls, on the couch, under chairs. Old posters, playbills and photographs stacked together and gathered. With her coat pulled up around her shoulders, a wilted flower pinned to the lapel, and a crooked finger, she leafed through a century. "I've pulled together some pictures to show you. Would you like to see them?" A house, a girl, a boy, a field, a boat, a plane, written on..."Graduation Day"..."1915"..."Wedding Day"..."1946"..."Here's mama, very beautiful...Here's Papa, handsome, dark...Here's brother before he became so angry." A pause. "I don't know when he became so angry"...then a self portrait, black and white, of sadness struck across her cheek...when reality set in, an epiphany of coming into being and the rupture of pullling away, into a poetic madness, with strokes of genius. The beginning and the end,...a lifetime ago of efforts without redemption. She looked up, smiled her little school-girlish smile and asked why I was headed back out into the sun.

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