Monday, May 18, 2009
The Beauty! The Beauty!
The title is a quote from Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: one of the books I’ve been thankful for. Spark, motion, cadence, wit: I don’t exactly know how else I could have spent that night coming home from Florida. In line in the jetway, in line for coffee, on the train ride home. Three hours on the train and I’d barely lifted my head from the book. And I was Beli in the cane field, and my mother in the cane field—Oscar too. And the creature who spoke to them. And what about the man without a face? I’d put up that passage right now if I hadn’t lent the book to Mark, who’s in Chicago overnight, for two readings and a workshop, where I hope the sponsors aren’t wearing him out!
(Uh oh: Tact Monitor, calling Mr. Tact Monitor!)
Putting up these posts has been necessary.
“Down in the dumps” weather: my mother’s phrase. The week of Memorial Day (her funeral on Memorial Day weekend: that just occurred to me now): radiators huffing heat, cold rain sliding down the windowpanes, and there’s a frost advisory on for tonight. The plants and flowers. Crap!
(God of weather, we deserve better!)
Every so often I look at these two pictures from a few days ago. I was eating at a restaurant with my father—and just a few minutes before I’d just seen my mother alive for the last time. I took a picture of the seagrapes on the beach through the open window. Then my father took a picture of me. I took a picture of him. I look at us now and I can see the trying on our faces, the waiting.
Then I think: we’re different now.
That’s what I thought when I woke up this morning. Well, it took a minute or so to come to me. I’m a person who doesn’t have a mother. I said it to myself with a fascinated detachment, a little surreal. Much younger, say, ten or so, I used to test myself to see what it might be like to imagine the other side of that, and I couldn’t bear the thought of it: the world turning in on itself, and pulling everything down inside that lightless hole. And yet I'm here. Okay--probably? (Possibly?) And I do still have a mother, even though she’s a finite set of exchanges, impressions. Or not even that: the lift of her mouth, her quickness to laugh, the placement of her voice, the smell of her hand lotion: won’t she keep changing in memory, as I change?
Already the young, fun mother is coming back.
Then, of course, I can't find her.
Here’s a song for her. I’m not sure exactly how this stays alive and fresh after so many listens, but it does that for me—and every time it comes on, I have to put everything down. Glamour and holiness and charm: how does he manage that?
Os Povos (The People) - Milton Nascimento