Wednesday, December 12, 2007

battery at 46% and dropping, cat ate the cord again

I. Body Language

Tongue tied?
Gaze into my eyes and know my secrets.
Read me like a book: the poetry of the body.

She had guilt written all over her face.
Lines of indecision furrow her brow.
Intent encircles the neck, pooling in the hollow of the throat.
Promises read around each finger.
Past scripted down the spine, soul evident in the arch of her foot.

Laugh lines. Frown lines. The iambic pentameter of life and love.

You say: you read me and weep; I am a closed book.
But my promise to you and to the future
        laid, a chain around my ankle
        carved, into the pediment of my being
Let us live and let us love.

II. Broken glass

The crack had been forming, slightly, incrementally, for some time. Every few weeks I would glance at the ceiling, notice the growing precariousness of the lamp shade, and continue to ignore the problem. Once, I was changing the burnt-out bulb in the fixture, and took advantage of the opportunity to measure the full dimensions of the needed lampshade: 10 3/4" diameter, 5 1/2" deep, milk glass, held in place with three screws. Completely standard piece of mid twentieth century residential architecture. After taking the measurements and noting that the crack was now eight inches long, I went back to whatever more urgent piece of domestic business was more compelling. Or, to be honest with you and with myself, the harsher critic, I went back to drinking endless cups of coffee and staring blankly into space, over a very cluttered desk and a living room that begs and pleads for vacuuming.

Several months passed in this manner. The angle of the sun changed, linens changed for cooler weather, air conditioner placed in storage, summer whites folded and winter tweeds aired. Inevitably, I would end up in a hardware store for some other necessity: yet more shelving, a ladder, potting soil, a new lamp, bricks, windshield wiper fluid. The magic numbers 10 3/4 5 1/2 would echo in my memory, but the final trip down the aisle never seemed worthwhile. The lampshade was still holding, the apartment a rental, other opportunities for endless consumerism always present. In short, life continued with the crack in the glass.

Until it didn't. Saturday again, the usual toxic combination of sunlight and coffee and dozing cats on the couch. Rather than staring into space, I was cleaning the bathroom and sloshing coffee on the brilliantly white tiles, when a crash from the other room declared the arrival of the inevitable. My meeting with my lighting destiny had arrived.

Once one has a set of bare bulbs, the essential truth of the situation can no longer be gently ignored. The living room rug positively advertises its want of vacuuming in illuminated technicolor. The random piles on the desk magically triple in volume.

A quest to find the perfect rose-colored glasses at the lighting store, twelve dollars in cash and two months later still on back-order from an unknown country whose labor practices I am quite sure I disapprove of.

III. Fate, inescapability thereof

Each of us has a specter from the tarot deck living in our address book; the mad aunt in the attic who haunts us most because we are her; we know that only a veneer of sociability, a too obvious layer of forced charm prevents us from joining her in the attic, endless games of scrabble. Family, and blood thicker than water, and years of passive aggression and overt manipulation turns the outcast into an icon.

My future lies in the attic: the same yellow wallpaper, the leather loveseat, the turntable featuring years of listening to the Boston Symphony, the accumulated American Tourister luggage in unfading powder blue: matching vanity case, overnight bag, weekender, and full fortnight on the Continent. These physical specimens of the world I have forsaken to stay in the garret, queen of my domain, served by terrified and tormented nieces and nephews and a doting but controlling sister; my red lipstick indifferently applied, the color rather dated, entertained by the double letter score of the "x" in oxen. Yes, memories of my past on different lands, my dashing lovers and racy weekends in town, the sparkling ambition of my youth: shards of these memories still remain, stylized: I shuffle through them, display the spread to my niece. I was young. I was courted. But the world soured and people changed and a lady hasn't a hope any more.

You placed the salt in the wrong cabinet; no, saucepans are stored under the other counter; haven't you been shown how to chop an onion?

Even family is foreign, even family leaves. In my space, isolated, surrounded by the only true past, there alone is reality. Outside the deer eat the roses and the lawn dies from inattention; but what of the roses, and what of the lawn? I could tell you of gardens I have seen, gardens I have walked in at dawn, the dew still and beading along grass clipped in stripes, sunlight slowly piercing the day, the hem of my trousers damp. The roses opened in shades of pink and ochre, stunning double blooms perfumed with purity.

But you wouldn't believe me, would sequester my lawn and my roses to the burnt remnants of the outer world before you, the only shell that you can see.

battery now at 36%

reading bills bills bills and a happy new year
weather snow tomorrow!