This is what it's like: it’s like walking through a very dark room that you think you know but you’re not really sure about; you move slowly, arms extended, sweeping the space before you for obstacles, so that the air stirs and a familiar smell comes to you -- something from another room you passed through earlier, something that won't quite take form in the dark. You move in small steps in the direction of the windows, or at least, where you believe -- where you hope -- the windows are. The floorboards creak underfoot. A draft from an unexpected direction. A door you forgot about? There's that smell again, a little lemony, and what now? You might stop where you are. Just where you are. You could sit right down and let your blindness nail you to the floor.
Instead you take another step with your arms stretched out in front of you, head turned to one side -- partly to help you hear (the two you're looking for are nearby, you know they are, and maybe they have found a way to talk to each other) -- and partly because you’d rather not run into a wall with your nose.
And there’s a glimmer, very faint. It's appeared so gradually you’re not sure how long you’ve been seeing it. Now it's a faint line in the darkness, and then, more slowly, intersecting that line, another one. A corner. A window? A door?
You hope for a window because you could pull open the curtains and look out into the world that’s been contorting and heaving into continents in the back of your mind. Then again it may look out onto a brick wall or an airshaft. Like the one outside your bedroom window on Lincoln Avenue when you were a little girl, a high rectangle of stagnant space full of hazy light and other people's curtained windows. Or it may be a door that opens into another room in this maze of rooms.
Then it's there. The window’s there, it really is, and the curtains slide easily when you take great handfuls and push them out of your way.
And that's when you see them, your characters. The two who have been avoiding each other, too afraid to talk, uncomfortable with their anger, each of them unaware of you watching from the window because, just now, they are far more real than you ever were or could be. You are as close as you can get, at this window as these two feel their way toward each other in small, tentative steps, half phrases, courtesies like stones, perfectly round and plain, to pave the way.
You see things you weren't expecting: a table covered with a cloth, and the way the embroidery along the edge of the linen shines in the sun. A pitcher of lemonade.The hat trailing a pale green ribbon that flutters in the breeze. The part in his hair, very precise. And her shoulders. They are so white through the thin fabric of her dress, why is it you never noticed that before?
Because he has.
He sees her pale shoulders and he’s touched by the slope of them, the curve where they meet her neck, the faint tracing of veins. You see it on his face, what he's feeling; he's touched and aroused and frantic with wanting to protect her, because he’s failed at that once too often. So you follow the line of her shoulders and that’s the start.
It’s like that.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Rosina Lippi on the White Flow
Rosina Lippi, aka Sara Donati, author of eight novels in print including the masterful Tied to the Tracks, which didn't get the love I think it deserved, sent me this wonderful piece about the White Flow, and the moments before it -