an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

. . . .


Rounded the corner from driving in the farmers' fields, in the sun, in the wind that was bright with light and cold, into the small neighborhoods behind the train yards where I passed a house with a camper for sale growing down into the spring grass and a house sagging out of its paint into its wood and a house with a baby teetering into the road with her two feet half in grass and gravel. I crept by. Another car passed us on the other side, a chromed black hulk revving through the crossroads where there is no stop sign before the fields lie wide, and the baby stepped into the road.


"Accidents rely on being": an underlying shadow that is the is while the green leaves float into my windshield or the sky backs away from the clouds. Shadow of leaves, shadow of sky, delineated by whatever makes the is of leaves not the same as the is of sky or the is of me, though I cannot sort out whether being must be one shadow with many manifestations--glass, metal, blood--or many shadows before one manifestation: who. The presence of the evidence is overwhelming: extension. Body. Matter. The painted veil. I look around in it for someone else to be there suddenly. Where is the tall sister stepping into view, the mother throwing open the door, rushing into the grass to grab the baby?


I watched her in my rearview mirror, parked now on the shoulder. She teetered in her jeans which had slipped down around her diaper and her bare feet. She stepped forward, her foot tangled in one pant leg while her waistband sank around her hips. She lost her balance, leaned to one side, touched the street, caught herself, smiled. Then broke into a headlong gait, all arms, until she reached the broken yellow line. I got out of the car. I said hi sweetie is this your house and I pointed towards the yard she'd crossed, and she watched me. She wore a plastic bag on her head like a shower cap. She was shirtless, pale. I noticed the blue veins running close to the surface of her skin along her belly, and a mass of blond hair spilling over half of her face from the bag. I noticed dried mucus around her nostrils and mouth, a wide ring of flaking milk across her cheek. I noticed her lashes in the sun and her eyes, ice blue, like a cat's. She curled one fist around a finger, concentrating, and said "kittycat," slowly, as if overhearing my last thought.


I lifted her up in one arm.


Her skin was cold. I remember this, distinctly, how she felt in my arm, though I can't recall her whole face, and how I felt groggy and a little chilled and fevery with a lingering (recurring?) common cold and with the wind blowing through my light coat. And how illness always sets me thinking about my body and other bodies, my car driving through the fields in spring, which is when the dirt puts on its green weight, and my eyes do too, days at a time. Which is also when I am waylaid by something viral, and invisible, whose presence makes itself known only symptomatically. And how the question was there again, purposefully: is body symptom?


I put my knuckles to the door and knocked on the glass. The house was small and ordinary, white, treeless, a single story with two front windows and a door between. The outer door had lost its bottom screens, the inside door was ajar, and a fat terrier appeared in the open frame from the darkness and barked for a very long time. I could see the back of a couch, velvet, ochre, nothing more. The dog barked, the baby sat in the crook of my arm and pointed at the dog, and I waited.


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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