Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My darling, up here in the aerie with the amorous bonobo best buddies Gwynnie & Claire, who are rolling around on the floor wrestling and outsourcing hairballs to each other as they have been doing since kittenhood. I am filled with scattered thoughts, trying to come up with a post, consulting Ashbery, old posts, posts lighted on, sipping rose, exalting in momentary flashes of sun piercing through the platinum and gray at the horizon where the mountains today (when's the last time I saw them?) have been invisible. I thought of trips to the beach when I was a young girl, we lived a few miles from the Sound, and on the way back when I was very young my father would stop at the Rexall and treat us to cones. That was a happy time, before things went severely bad, before I gained knowledge of his affliction, which did explain his inexplicable behavior. What I'm remembering now though, is delicious strawberry ice cream, handscooped maybe from behind the drugstore counter. Actually, I don't know, this way of getting ice cream was before mall-type ice cream stores. Plus I'd be all hot and sandy and tired from the beach, going in there in a damp bathing suit and sandy feet, thrust in keds or cheap sandals (I didn't like flipflops, they hurt the space between my toes; perhaps I had the other kind, broadband like old man slippers). My father would park the blue Pontiac in front of the drugstore, late afternoon, golden hot sun. I can't quite pinpoint in my mental geography where this was, no matter, somewhere along the Boston Post Road, adjacent to turnpike, and so on a hot golden afternoon, returning sandfilled from the beach (my father still sober), I'd enter the Rexall and it was such a change of environment, like stepping into a bathiscape. It was cold - air-conditioned cold - and there was something minty, flinty, acerbic, sharp - some combination of, I don't know what, it was a time before manipulated aromas for marketing reasons (or was it?). It was very sensory, strawberry ice cream melded with chill mint air of an empty drugstore. I hated the frozen hunky bits of actual strawberries though, they hurt my teeth. And they didn't taste like anything, not like real strawberries. I'd hold each in my mouth and let it melt until I could negotiate it.

We'd always order the hard dark sugar cones, never the pale "cup" kind. For some reason this was a rule.

We'd float back in my father's Pontiac and I don't remember much else. Usually things didn't go well on weekends. But maybe things were okay after such a jaunt. Or it would be with my brothers and me. Maybe I have the time frame wrong but there was a pingpong table squeezed into the tiny one-car garage (the Pontiac stayed outside). I loved playing pingpong late afternoons, towards dusk, with K or M, conversation without words, just bat the ball back and forth, so much less strenuous than tennis, and so mentally intriguing and challenging launching that little ball across the green hardtop, to the waiting pitched arm of a beloved opponent (did we keep score? as a formality, yes, but for me it was always about just keeping the thing going, back and forth, back and forth, with breaks as someone (a brother) fished the eggshell spheres from the cobwebby spiderridden corners of the tiny garage, while I took a break and looked across the way, stepped outside into the cool clear late afternoon, near-evening light, church up the hill to the west, convent (at that time) right across the quiet narrow road, at a different grade, above a steep stone wall.

Whichever brother I was playing with would say okay I found the balls, and I'd return, or perhaps I'm making up this whole aspect of those ping-pong moments. We'd take turns on either end of the garage after all, as well as who served first. It was a safe haven though, a nice space in daylight even as dusk and night approached, before night.


Fast forward into the future - hasn't even happened yet - I look forward to being able to take hold of and clasp both your hands in peaceful stillness, you and me together, letting the light in.

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