Part 3 of a series of 7
I would like to talk about rooms. William Gass proposed that a book is a building for what the brain has spun. So a letter is a room. Your husband’s letter to me was full of location, as if he and therefore I were rapidly beaming in and out of chaos: Captain Kirk and his obedient lackey. Basements and parking lots, orchestra pits and grocery stores. He is so active, your guy. (But when we sit at the table, he is stalwart at your side.) I want this letter to be a little sendable bag for what my sleepy Sunday brain is knitting. Wooden needles click.
I am writing to you from a new room. An old room in our 120 year-old house, the room that was first my son’s then my daughter’s and now refitted for the son again in preparation for his return from college. Everything is IKEA neat right now, the only muss the dust on top of the plastic fortune-telling Buddha, the one I gave him last Christmas, the one sitting on some glib western manufacturer’s idea of buddha responses, like look within.
Content as a mug of tea here, because Sam will return in a few days. We hung a long green batiked scarf in the window and everything is now watery green, my hands as I write you, my pajamas, his posters and books. A moist, dim green against the November outside.
If letters are little knitted compartments of saying, then I should hurry and say before I run out of yarn. Your daughter is a temple. My daughter is a swimming pool. Your daughter is an atrium. We are both splendid galleries within the museum of this city. You are a library stacked with real wisdom, truly. Your daughter is a volleyball court. My son is somewhere in Boston now, his body a concert hall, his eyes will be blue all the way back to Chicago.
PS Don’t show this to Mike yet, he needs to wait.
by Alice George
For notes on the process, see the first letter in the chain.
The latest chief of police looks like Bruce Willis, which is good, considering. About half of the population seems to be bonding, casting looks at the other portion who will be sacrificed to heighten tension. Weather unbelievably benign just like on 9/11. It gives us creeps but sets up a good vibe: scary, pregnant. Meanwhile, the heavy artillery starts and so we fling ourselves into the one working elevator. So cozy with its strip of fluorescence, its inevitably fucked machinery. This is when certain character traits are supposed to sink or swim us, like how Shelly Winter’s swimming prowess saved the day in Poseidon Adventure but then her bum heart gave out. How the plucky kid’s knowledge of computer programming saves his family in one movie but not in another. But the workmanlike script for the next persuasively apocalyptic disaster film has been lost or shredded and eaten by the third world. Somewhere the next election results are being dipped in money to make them possible, China’s pollution is being bagged and sold into interstellar bondage, and your grave digs itself out. The credits begin rolling before we’re ready and the gorgeous names of funeral directors ripple in front of our faces as if we were drowning, right now, drowning in our houses.
by Alice George
Friday morning, rush hour traffic and suddenly from within the tight curl of the I-94 cloverleaf there arose something first manifest through scent (like blood and apricots) then color (olive green with russet edges). Of course it was more beautiful and loathsome than us. Stupid in ways we don’t allow ourselves to be stupid, brilliant in ways that escape us. But I only learned this later, after the scooping up and dumping onto, after the lair visit and deep conversation, after my betrayal, after the show. At that moment all I knew was relief that something so big had happened without anyone stopping it. When people ask me what I remember most, I tell them about the nature of its skin: moist yet healthy, covered with scales that seemed to imply imperviousness yet failed in the end, as we all know. And I mention the tenderness because that’s part of the last promise I made myself, even as I pointed the chopper towards its home. I am not speaking of the creature’s tenderness, for that is well documented. I mean my own, the way my time with him softened the concrete house of my heart.
by Alice George