July 15, 2018

shard

i've been thinking of posting some little fragments of writing, micro-stories or glimpses of things...here is the first:

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It's an emblematic day, where nothing feels innocent or void of subtext. She moves heavily through the morning after a disturbed night, still partly tangled in late dreams, remembering only the colours and a vague sense of loss. Washing up last night's wine glasses, one manages to click against the faucet---the gentlest of sounds, yet it shatters the bowl of the glass. Three great triangular shards fall into the sink, leaving the stem with a wickedly sharp piece that glints and threatens. Not even safe to put into the bin, it must be wrapped in something before throwing it away. Like newspaper, but she hasn't taken the papers in years. A plastic bag might do, but rigorous use of cloth shopping bags has ensured a lack of those, too. Stymied, she sets the broken thing on the windowsill and moves on to wash the linens.

Later she checks the laundry on the clothes-line, not liking the way the sheets snap in a bit of wind; it startles her and feels oddly ominous. She is reminded again of her hazy dreaming. Putting the kettle on for tea, she notices the flowers on the table are past their peak. As she looks at them, a ragged petal drops to the floor with a faint sound, that if she had to characterise it, she would describe as a dried moth falling onto parchment. Surely she has never heard that exact thing... The petal, as she stoops to pick it up, reminds her of the skin on her own hand, grown rather dry and thin of late. The veins there so blue, barely veiled. For no reason, she thinks back to the broken wine glass. More like a dagger than a glass now, she thinks. And then, irrelevantly, the old saying "a bell is a cup until it is struck" comes to her mind. She shakes her head very slightly at the unruliness of her own thoughts. Placing the tea things on a tray, her eyes fill suddenly with tears, as useless as they are unprovoked. She decides to have tea inside----outside the wind feels sharp, and the light pricks and pulls at everything, too bright, yet bringing no clarity.

The tea pours almost musically into the cup. The room is pleasantly dim, and the little light that comes through the curtains' gap makes a bar across the old Turkish rug, which glows wildly scarlet there. She wonders how long it took to make the rug, and whether it was a burden or a delight to the maker. Perhaps it was made for a dowry, she thinks drowsily, and frowns a little because she cannot know the end of the story. Was it a happy marriage, or one of the many small domestic tragedies that women live? Resolutely turning her thoughts away from this idea, she focusses on the teacup, frail and translucent as a shell. It's beautiful, but almost madly delicate. Somehow still very functional, though, having survived decades of washing up by her hands, and who knows how many other hands before hers. The teapot, though, has a hairline crack in its lid, barely noticeable, which cannot be felt but is quite visible on the underside. She knows the crack as well as she knows the slightly freckled back of her hand, or the occasional stitch-y pain in her heart.

Taking in the sheets after tea, she is reminded to look for some tissue paper to wrap the broken glass. Rifling through a plastic box of gift wrapping papers, she finds the piece of printed tissue that came in one of her daughter's early birthday gifts, a pastel floral design. She touches it gently before replacing it in the bottom of the box, and pulls out some utilitarian packing paper tucked away for re-use, not pretty enough for a gift. Returning to the kitchen, she shrouds the fragmented wine glass with the tissue paper and places it carefully in the bin, pointy bit downward. A small bloom of red on the paper alerts her to the tiny cut on her index finger; the shard that grazed her was so sharp that she barely felt it. Mingling with the water drops in the sink, the blood is magnified in dilution, a little red rivulet moving slowly to the drain. She turns the tap on briefly to wash the basin clean, and moves away to take the spent flower arrangement out to the compost. More petals fall, leaving a trail behind her. She admires the deepened hues of the dry flowers, as if they somehow concentrated themselves as they came to the end of their time. She rubs a few petals together in her hands and watches the plum-purple powder that results as it trickles to the ground. Like a cross between confetti and ashes, she thinks. She makes a plan to keep the next batch of petals and see if they will make a pigment that she can paint something with, as she used to do with her daughter when she was a toddler.

Back at the sink with the empty vase, she sees a fine line of dull purplish-brown on her finger where the flower petal dust has settled into the cut. She feels no desire to wash it out; it's a fugitive colour anyway, she thinks, rather elliptically, like the dream of a colour which doesn't endure in the light of day. And then, like a conjurer's trick, it is dusk...nearly time for dreaming again...and the sky is washed in shades of plum and violet that only a few short weeks in late autumn bring.




2 comments:

  1. I've read this piece of writing every day since you posted it, and I'm not sure I can adequately express all the things I feel about it (I struggle with words sometimes). The things you see and the way you write about them: you have a gift.

    Each time I read this paragraph I get chills:

    "More petals fall, leaving a trail behind her. She admires the deepened hues of the dry flowers, as if they somehow concentrated themselves as they came to the end of their time. She rubs a few petals together in her hands and watches the plum-purple powder that results as it trickles to the ground. Like a cross between confetti and ashes, she thinks. She makes a plan to keep the next batch of petals and see if they will make a pigment that she can paint something with, as she used to do with her daughter when she was a toddler."

    I didn't know anyone else knew about this feeling of becoming more concentrated with the passing of time, and the need to make paint with it, to leave behind a sign.

    I am creating a garden. There is dirt (perhaps permanently?) under my nails from the work of it. I spend every minute I can planting roses and cranesbill and butterfly weed. And while I am at it thoughts, observations, fragments from everywhere and everything and everytime pass through me.

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    Replies
    1. thank you for your kind words!

      your garden must be paradise for bees and butterflies...a garden must be one of the most beautiful artworks to create. i suspect many of us are like this, in that when we are just working at something, moving through our days, we exist in a sort of layered dream of life, strands of time and events bubbling up organically in our minds, braiding together to make meanings unique to us. our minds exist partly to do just this: to make meaning of life and experience, to place us within our own story. and whenever i look at an elderly person, i am struck by both their fragility and their resilience; by the strength they must have to be here still, and by the depth of story they must carry with them.

      thank you for reading. :)

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