It’s clear this morning, and forty-nine degrees. About this time of day, I have to close the curtain in this northeast-facing room to keep the sun from blinding me, and from boiling and bleaching the books near the window — partial nineteenth-century sets of Bulwer-Lytton, Eugene Field, and George Meredith, a complete set of Browning, and miscellaneous other “delightfully obscure” volumes. These all rest on one of my mother’s antique tables. Around nine-thirty or so, I’ll be able to open the curtain again. I far prefer, of course, the dim light of cloudy days, and being able to leave the curtain open. And even though the big window faces the street, I leave the room exposed all night, the house being several feet higher than the street, and the small front yard rimmed by growth that gives the needed privacy — Mom’s old lilac; a volunteer cedar; a western juniper (often ghostly in the winter mist) started by seed old family friends brought my parents many years ago from the high Sierras; a volunteer lacy-green maple; a Japanese red maple wider than it is tall and a perfect haiku; and several arborvitaes I planted shortly after Mom died. Arbor (tree) vitae (of life). Perfect.
Well. You are sure you’ve mentioned Annie Ernaux, and I am sure you haven’t. But as always, when I say I am sure, it means “I am sure unless I’ve forgotten, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have.” You say she practices something called écrire la vie. Yet I wonder if either of us, or any of us, practice anything else — publicly, privately, consciously, unconsciously, and everywhere in between. In any case, I have not read her writing, but hereby make a note to do so, based on your description of it as “wonderfully poetic and spare.”
And that’s where I’ll leave it for now. The grand-kids were here all day yesterday and I need to pick up the pieces, literally and figuratively. And even if it weren’t necessary, I would still have to vacuum up my hair, which I find everywhere these days and is coming out in wads — hardly a surprise, considering my many bald uncles. And yet I started with so much that the process is taking years. At first I thought I was merely shedding, and that whatever fell out was being replaced. Indeed, for a long time, it seemed so. But the daily evidence in the shower drain speaks otherwise, as do the gray-brown drifts that pile up gently against the baseboards. Hence the silly little poem I wrote yesterday:
coiffé d’un béret
new shingles for a neighbor’s roof,
so I’m told by sound,
coiffé d’un béret,
while mine are falling out.