Blogs by anne cunningham
6/13/2004 6:03:16 PM
napping, knapping, napping ...
The colors: “Marsh Grass" makes up the four walls, a pale green, specially mixed, looking like the smear that is the green and the blue mixed with fog on a summer’s muggy day. Pale, checked green and white curtains billow in on the breeze, filtering in the bird songs; red for the cardinal, yellow for the finches, blue for the jay, black and white for the woodpecker’s tapping. Gray leaks in, what remains of the neighbor’s brush fire at the corner of his garden, carried in on the silver remains of the morning’s fog lift. There is the slight pink of the sun, but it loses the fight. The room takes on a pewter-y, antique hue, frozen in time.
The sounds: Breaking glass, coming from the direction of the deck, where Paul and Ali are flint-knapping. Later, there is the clinking of just one master glass sculptor, bent over his work, sharp shards of many colors at his feet, as Ali heads indoors, her just-finished amber glass arrowhead, deep in the pockets of her soon-to-be cut-off-to-shorts jeans.
Still later, there is the opening of the sky and the pounding of the rain. In the distance, there is the rumbling of the garage door being raised, as P. comes in out of the rain, followed by the even-ness of my breathing before sleep, lulled by the muffled sound of breaking glass and thumping bone and copper as Paul continues working in the garage. I hear the suctioning, open and closing of the fridge, as Ali looks for something to drink. I imagine her rummaging for the orange flash of baby carrots, deciding instead on a wheat and raisin-y bagel and peanut butter, brown on brown.
The objects: Smeared about the room as I drift off to sleep, eyes half-closed, mouth slackened into an easy smile, cheeks smooth, brow less furrowed … I spy the guitar chord poster on the wall, the guitar below, clothes on top of a hamper, the Harry Potter quilt looking as if it is painted onto the wall (stitched by Beks), the kitty-cat mirror, the poster board splattered with a sticker collection, a child’s artwork, a carefully crafted metal shield, honed by the brown man for the Nordic child. The bushy tail of a Native American walking stick postures in the breeze of the open window. My eyes touch upon the shared history and touchstone objects shared between Ali (Fraughter) and Paul (Guardant), the names she made for them when they first met, a mixture of daughter, friend and guardian. An i.d. bracelet that nearly fits her wrist now, shares these titles engraved in the smooth silver.
Above my head live books, a CD player and music with its title side down and a mirrored music surface shining upward. Next to the bed, a desk, artwork and a story strewn across the top, next to last night’s empty water glass. On the dresser, a child-nearly-gone teen type of things mixed in among old and new jewelry and treasures, a whalebone from the Alaska shoreline, a microscope slide, beginner’s makeup and a jillion pony-tail-holders, an emergency thin-maxi with wings for the girl who says she is not ready to fly yet, and hopes she won’t have to this summer without me.
Busting out of the bookshelves, spill books, microscopes, artwork and Ali's small-scale/mock-up of the floating/driving ice and summer fishing boat she invented. Atop one pine shelf, live the be-heads of three “barbies,” top of the head to the bust. They are less than life-size decapitations, but close enough to mimic same. The first is dark-skinned with shiny long black hair and has make-up under her eyes. The two blond heads next to her are washed clean, hair in disarray.
Next to the doll heads, the lava lamp spills a murky red light on the three experimental facies, where Ali tries on things she can’t yet wear out of the house. These dolls, eyes locked on Ali, watch her by this same red light, as she sleeps each night, stretching, kicking off the blankets, her feet surpassing the available length of the bed. Some nights I want to extinguish the lava grow light, P. watching over my shoulder stating, “That! Is not leaving this house for junior high!”
In my sleep: I drift, head sunk to the depths of a daisy-splashed pillow slip that smells like wet feathers and shampoo, my left side pressing down on the wild animals that race across the white cotton sheet. Next to the zebra and the lion, under the pillow, is the blood red-washed-to-brown (missing a pretreatment) stain of a prior bloody nose. Some day, the monkey at the mid portion of the bed is going to be drowned red. Later, he will be prewashed to his prior unscathed brown against the white sheets, where I now lie, my right hip covered by a cross-patch quilt, picked over and over again by Ali and I, since she was 5, as we spout out our favorite swatches. It always takes us forever to find the one square that has tennis rackets on it.
Our DNA and fingerprints have traveled every patch of this bed landscape, many times x many times, as have her sisters' and her great-grandmother, whose nearly 3-years-gone-from-us-now face, Ali saw appear this past winter, along the back of our tortoise shell cat, Belle, one blizzardy night, when she woke from a dream, Belle pressed against her.
In front of my nose, as I inhale and exhale, there is the rolling sea of cream-colored fluff, along the back of the latest hugely stuffed bunny we bought for Ali, to go with the lamb we gave her last year. The lamb has since been loved nubby and coarse by a year’s worth of dreams. Behind me, a horse, a dalmatian and a big purple frog, gifts from prior years, are all loved beyond ever becoming extinct.
Beneath me, every now and then, I feel the stirring and vibration as Ali tiptoes into the room, opening the drawers under the three-drawer bedstead. She removes her dolls, called “Barbies” in the marketplace, but to her they are “characters” for the stories she writes in her head and on paper. She has many of them, enough to fill one whole drawer below the bed. Another drawer houses their costumes and props. The third drawer holds some very quiet rag dolls that have been sleeping lots this past many weeks. While they have hair and dresses of many colors, their costumes are not interchangeable, and their hair is pinned down tight. Occasionally, by “night light," Ali wills them back to life. They sleep in the drawer, below the head of the bed, where she dreams deep.
At 11-going-on-to-junior high, Ali rummages in the belly-hold of her preteen bedstead, in her recently updated room, for the toys that still have voices only she can hear, but even with my eyes closed, I can see what she feels decorating her face, her cheeks holding the natural blush of her childhood, while glittery nail polishes and lip gloss lie in wait on her dresser top.
Parked on the floor, there is a plastic convertible, a jet airliner and a horse-drawn Cinderella carriage. Next to it, an uncapped marker dry and a no-threat to the simply beige carpet, its red blood long gone somewhere across the desktop, or hidden in a drawer on white paper now folded into the shape of a football. Alongside all of this, a pair of balled up socks.
And I sleep. Twas' a glorious 2-1/2 hour nap on an early Sunday afternoon. This day, I was going to catch up on the laundry and clean the master bedroom, but thought instead … a nap in a child’s bed, far from the room that needed menial task attention, before this last child is no longer a child, in what some day might be called a “guest room,” during a week that holds her last day of elementary school, already graduated and awarded last Friday, a heavy work week for me and Paul, much shopping and family visiting to be done before Ali leaves for her summer … when her room will lie quiet, and as the days pass, I will a breathe a silent wish that most of the “dolls” will resume talking when she gets back, and that Ali does not seem like a “guest” in her “old room.”
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