Friday, 30 March 2012

My Sister the Poet

I am sitting alone in her room, again. This is the room where she writes. There is a lamp, a window, a gauzy curtain, an empty bowl of cereal with spoonfuls of milk left inside.
There are one or two bookshelves (stuffed to the gills) and a typewriter, a selection of pencils: it’s neither a study or an office, though, but a private space. The ghosts of words faintly traced into the wood grain of the tabletop appear wherever the light lands in front of me. I am surrounded by her things, little objects she has touched and moved around many times like so many talismans (which she told me once, standing on the lawn outside, came from the Greek word "telein" which means "to initiate into mysteries"). I can see her fingerprints on these picture frames, this loose button, this seashell with its pink underbelly. I am not quite trespassing so much as interloping, here, sitting in her place, waiting for her, ostensibly to ask her some nothing question about the time, or about the weather, or about a phone number I've forgotten. I'm doing what I assume she does, whenever she's in here, waiting for words and images to come. Cozing up to them, sneakily.
I sit here at her desk, but she is not here with me. I think I can hear her faintly, pacing, humming under her breath while she feeds the cat and waits for the kettle to rumble and click. And so I just bide my time before she comes back again and asks me to leave. I prepare myself for this dismissal, for the smile she'll shoot me, which will take me bashfully from her seat with the creak in its legs. It's a sound I sometimes hear elsewhere in the house, this creaking, coming through the walls, telling me she's hard at work. So I lean back a few times, trying to get it exactly right, this sound that is hers alone. I relax carefully into that chair, calling its owner back to me.    

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