Saturday, November 27, 2010


The seasons on the farm passed, and for Grace time was calculated only in quotidian measures: the sudden paroxysms of weather, the familiar appearances of certain transient species of birds, the planting of seeds, the ripening of things upon the vine, and the sweet hovering of bees. Time's more intimate units were marked by the uninterrupted arcs of the sun and moon, the cooking, the laundering, and the tireless search for the elusive thing that would offer up some bit of her mother, like a delectable drop of nectar drawn form a honeysuckle blossom.

At fourteen, Grace discovered that when she would stand outside her father's bedroom window with her hands pressed against the glass, letting her eyes drift off in a mist of vision, she could see Lizzie pressing her ear against her father’s chest as he slept, his hands folded over him like a corpse. Like a bird then Lizzie flutters off the mattress, picks her way across the floor barefoot between the newspapers and journals and papers scattered everywhere to the high bookshelves that lined the walls of the rooms.

The smooth pine boards of the floor had recorded hundreds of such passages of her bare feet between the bookshelf with its sacred languages and the bed, where the grounding touch of his hands on her skin freed fragments of poetry, fecund and unformulated, from every cell of her flesh, releasing unutterable syllables that flashed like sparks from her skin, where his mouth gathered them gently back into an utterance that flooded back into her, coherent and whole. As she rested in his arms, she would often see her own death flicker around her like a firefly. Seeing these flashes like lightning behind the lids of his eyes, he did not know that he also was witnessing her death, that he had already lost her.