Secrets & Places
I am staying in my parents’ house. The house is in limbo, no longer their home but kept exactly as if they might return at any moment, though they they never will. Like a dreamy puppet, I walk up the stairs focusing on each step, the bend in my legs, the extension to climb, my spine, my doing this coming from a need to feel right here right now as the end of their life rears closer rendering a home that seemed so permanent suddenly irrelevant, watching just one step then one step, following the closely-gazed trail without looking at the horizon or placing myself in a context, the intuitive aspect of me navigating to secrets, and then, because they are no longer living here and I can go anywhere, I find myself walking into their bedroom room and sitting down in front of their bookcase without having had any intention of doing this action.
I pull up a chair, open the glass door with its gracefully arcing carved wood ornaments, and take down an old book. It is small. It has a leather cover with a somewhat fraying spine. The book isn’t dusty because of the glass case. It smells slightly sweet and the slender pages open lazily, turn lazily, silky as no modern page ever is. On the inside cover, inscribed in ink red-browned with age, is my great grandfather’s name, a name I have only seen on a genealogy chart. But now I know that he held this volume and read it–the wrinkled spine tells me so–and for pleasure, because it is literature. Jude the Obscure. This soft, fragrant, story-filled treasure was in his hands and my grandfather’s and my father’s, and found a protected resting spot until today when it moves against my skin and gives its presence to my senses. I know the book’s contents, and will enjoy reading it again sometime soon, but at this moment I savor the touch of my skin to these men who live in my cells, who lived and dreamed with the company of these words before me. There is a caress in the cover. A whisper in the pages. We have all enjoyed the same motion. I am in a slow waltz through time with invisible partners.
How I wish I could say this jigsaw piece of me popping into place to my father and know he could understand my voice right now.
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