Messages from Another Planet

October 25th, 2008

Funny how I can remember the yellow tulips on this dress my mother made and I can barely recall what I had for dinner yesterday. This photo was taken at my grandmother’s house–see the clover in the grass? And just across the street behind those trees is an old cemetery where many of my family are buried and where I loved to play as a kid. I went back there this summer and it was actually much the same, not smaller as so often happens to places that we loved in childhood. The thing that was diminished was my capacity for wonder, awe and imagination. My sense that right around the bend in the road, where it turned from tarmac to dirt, an alternate universe would open up. Just over that next hill. Just on the other side of that high stone wall. As a child, I lived in an enchanted world that lay just under the “real” one. If I made a map of that wonder land, I’d include the bank of violets down the road–a pool of inky blue that made me want to lie down on it and become the essense of violets–only I didn’t understand that was what I longed for. I’d draw myself by the the lake in the cemetery whose dark waters were occasionally pierced by the dart of a red carp/koi–like a message about death, grief, foreverness seen for a moment, almost grasped by my little heart and then lost. I’d put an X on the grainy cement cistern top covered with tomatoes set there to ripen in the sun and make wavy green and red lines to indicate the mingled smells of fresh cut grass and fresh cut watermelon–so similar and so distinct. I’d show my grandfather always walking away toward toward a row of rhubarb by the fence. I’d leave space for the silences between adults that I never understood and the closed doors and raised voices. The shoals of mystery. The places on the map where a child can get lost for long years. I was reading Twitter messages on a friend’s blog today–minute by minute minutiae of what she was doing, cooking, eating, watching and thinking–and I thought how sad that we know everything now and it has turned out to be so little.

2 Responses to “Messages from Another Planet”

  1. Kathleen says:

    Beautiful, haunting prose. Thank you.

  2. V-Grrrl says:

    The silky dusty dirt between the tree roots of the big oaks that could be molded into hills with roads passing through for tiny tin cars…the rope swing in the clearing in the woods where we flew so high but learned not to close our eyes lest we crash our heads into the tree trunk on our bent trajectory…the low branches of the apple tree that I first climbed when I was five…the pine tree that lured me to the top when I was 12.