Saturday, February 21, 2015

That I had a horror of this burial

When we sorted out the pieces of clothing in the bag we were putting into the charity bin -- it was too late to sort them properly -- too late to do more than check the inevitable, as I'd said -- I saw that our daughter was dumping the gray skirt with the bright red lining that I had worn for my grade three ballet exam -- that and the muslin apron, with its three or four rows of zigzag applique -- two pieces of clothing, or at least dress ups, that our daughter couldn't have fitted into for so many years -- and you said to me, then, as soon as I described what they were, that I could take them out of the bag if I wanted to. But I said no.

As we walked away from the bin, I told you that years ago I had realised, too late, that she had dumped a couple of tiny rubber dolls that my mother had played with before the second world war, and how distressed I had been to realise this -- how it still distresses me -- even now as I write, and for no reason that I can fathom -- but still, all the same, that I had known I should send the skirt and the apron into the chute -- what else was I to do with them? -- that if this part of me had its way, I would be buried under the profusion, under the mountain of useless objects that connected me to my past -- so completely buried I would not be able to move -- that I had a horror of this burial, even as I had a horror of the loss, of the gaping wound from the place where each of these objects had been torn from me, these wounds that will never heal, no matter than it has been years since, unknowingly, I had cast those small rubber dolls into a similar bin.

But, as you had seen, I said, when I had come across the piece of crushed blue velvet that my mother's childless and wheezing childhood friend had given me at the door of my grandmother's place, when they had both been alive -- this piece of useless velvet that I have never known what to do with and that was squeaky to touch, not even very nice -- I had removed it from the bag -- the red lined ballet skirt and apron going into the bin but the velvet staying out and having to be carried home. There being no sense to any of this, I told you -- will I even be glad about what I have done today? -- and you: as you usually do, you said it was up to me.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sweet and innocent, childish colours

As we walked past the colourful coke ad at the bus stop -- the one with the cans ranged in sweet and innocent rows, as she called them -- in sweet and innocent, childish colours -- my friend told me about the woman who had called out for help with the coke can that was stuck in the side of her pram -- this coke can that the woman was having trouble getting out because she had no hands or wrists, and in place of ankles, a metal bar in each of her shoes -- and how it had been the metal bars that my friend had first noticed as she passed the woman who was worrying at the sides of her pram, the dark metal bars of her legs at an angle -- this woman who in that furred way of someone who might have been drunk but perhaps only helpless and annoyed at the allotment of words she'd been given at birth had called out for help in retrieving what turned out to be a half-empty can of coke, and whose baby all the while was lying on its back in the pram, apparently happy. My friend then told me that for the whole day after this she had been unable to forget that she had helped the woman get her can of coke -- her standard coloured can of coke -- and that it had made her sick, for some reason, to think that she had done this -- why should it make her sick -- why on earth? And the only thing my friend had been able to say to the woman at the time, she said, was about the baby: something about it being beautiful. Which it was.