Monday, December 13, 2010

Temperature dropping, wind rising, chimes clanging. Dome might have been better than globe, was the first word I thought of in fact, then started to think of architecture, of structures, edifices (Winter Garden - now), but that was too formal so - snowglobes. Not a satellite, but rather God observing the misty scene in the snowglobe. Is scrim right? More thoroughly permeated and atmospheric than that. So: dome? Variant. Or not. No, not. My cake plate has a covered glass dome much like the hummingbird's. Perhaps I can do something with that sometime. Is that a bell jar? Or an inverted one?

Can you tell I have nothing tonight? My friend in Finland sent me a wonderful story, a fairy tale he'd written, and I was astounded by it. It made me wish I had a big lavishly illustrated version, and a child on my lap to read it aloud to.

Went for a brisk walk at the park today, a bit like Catherine marching around empty windswept heaths. Except this Catherine worked out with weights as she walked, and laughed lunatically when she thought of lines such as, "do you believe in the Virgin birth?," "no, I studied existentialism in college a lot and somehow it never came up."

Reading Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means, several pages every day - with the circularity, repetition, dailiness, tense quickening - a ticking fuse of a story. Today - quite literally - the bomb went off, reminding me very much on a small scale but uncannily still, of 9/11. The casual everydayness, ungrasping horror, uncertainty in the face of the inevitable, lurching doom. I had no designer gown to turn inside out and save, but that night D and I, though shaken, drank wine as usual, and ate dinner, Chilean sea bass, before it became incorrect to do so. So how bad am I?

The day my mother died I found myself stranded at my father's house for the night and I hadn't packed anything to wear. My lizard siblings were there, having descended from remote parts for the occasion. I found myself, for the overnight, rummaging through my mother's dresser and the closet where she kept her bedclothes, and selecting a gingham cotton gown and matching robe. Garments that, in fact, I had bought for her, in her company at Macy's, shopping for fresh bedclothes hours, or perhaps the day before she was to be checked into the hospital for surgery, not that that should matter, or that my siblings would have known - and perhaps in writing this story here I should omit that, perhaps I'm too much loading the story by saying that - but on the other hand, though they were my mother's nightclothes, not often worn I don't believe, somehow I was familiar with their provenance, so to speak, and so felt perhaps a little more comfortable slipping into them the very night of her death, than with any other, more worn garments in her closet.

My brother, a year younger than me, draped on an armchair in the living room as I came downstairs, in particular was disgusted and instantly attributed all sorts of nefariously acquisitive motives to me, as if I'd been raiding my mother's closet. For her Macy's nightgown. So that I didn't have to sleep in my clothes that night.

That was a strange time. Months earlier I'd bought tickets, four of them, for friends of D's and mine and ourselves, to see Maggie Smith in a play on Broadway. My mother's funeral turned out to be on the very day of the performance that I had tickets for. I saw this coming, days in advance, and under the exceedingly awkward circumstances, offered my father the tickets. He'd been housebound with my mother, who died of cancer, for a long time. My siblings were coming in from all parts. Why don't they all go?

And they did, the four of them, piled into a car and went, and I was left by myself in the dark house (why do I remember it as dark? surely there were lights, or perhaps I kept them off) and me with my mother's tortoiseshell cat who'd been rather neglected in my mother's dying and was grateful for a bit of attention as I absently sat against the fridge and stroked and brushed her. And then I borrowed a very, very warm winter parka of my mother's from the downstairs closet and went out into the frigid night to smoke a cigarette and to look up at all the stars in the Connecticut sky, stars I could rarely see living in Brooklyn, city of interminable lights, nocturnal glow, and they all came back from the play having enjoyed it (and my father was happy for the break, and to have a nice moment with some of his grown children), and I simply (because at the time I had a job, and money) bought tickets to see the play another time, and did, and Maggie Smith was wonderful, and I did quietly appropriate the winter parka of my mother's because - well, I couldn't say exactly, perhaps for wrong reasons - but it was warm, and I wore it for a number of winters, and it did always feel like hers, that it was her coat - I'd had no role in its provenance - until either I outgrew it, having gained weight, or it wore out, which in the end was a good thing, and a relief, but had been the warmest thing I could find that cold night by myself in my father's house, smoking, thrusting my hands deep in the quilted pockets, first one hand then the other as I smoked, and looking up at the black firmament, picking out, way up above, Orion's Belt and all the twinkling stars.

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