She died and then all this...
49th Day After My Mother’s Death
25th November 2018
A real estate agent—an older, blonde woman not unlike my mother—shows me a house that I may or may not already own. My sister may be with me.
The front of the house is like Jenckes Street—the one I own in Providence.
The back is open and much bigger than the actual existing addition.
The walls and floor are deteriorated, painted with ancient, thick red paint—cracking and dusty.
The only furniture is a large Regency dining table and many chairs.
Someone (maybe me) has messily removed the back wall with a saw.
The absent fourth opens directly out into the garden, which is exactly like the Jenckes Street garden.
I think it would be nice to have a pool but there’s really no room for one and we’ve already redone the garden once anyway.
The agent explains that a recently deceased woman owned the house.
I imagine the woman sitting at the table, cozy and happy in her house in her last days.
27th November 2018
My cranial-sacral practitioner moves to a new house in Providence or Minneapolis. It is a mid-century marvel. The walls are covered in lobster pink grass paper. The furniture is grey and mustard. She is in the midst of papering the corners of one room with images of Chinese matriarchs and patriarchs so large they cover the entire wall. They are incredibly lush and powerful—like Warhol meets Hokusai.
Then she shows me the flowers she’s arranging. At first, they are blue glass beads attached by wires in the shape of flowers. But then I see that, in fact, the arrangement is dark red beads suspended in air, making gestures to flowers and leaves but gently floating and circulating in space. Its beauty stuns me.
We go outside onto the front pavement and attached to her house, is a high opening like a small cave—made of rock and grass and earth. I stand on tiptoe to see into a kiosk selling coffee and pastries. We decide to go into the kiosk by a side entrance and now it is rather large, filled with windows and light. We sit and wait for food to arrive. The noise in the café intensifies. I say, ‘It’s lovely to have this right next door but it must get loud and certain times of the day.’ She agrees that it does get loud, but says that she doesn’t mind.
4th December 2018
I am in the front room of a house much like Jenckes Street.
Christopher, in urgent sotto voce says, ‘Crystal, Crystal come quickly. Do NOT turn off the light!’
He does not want me to startle whatever is in the back garden—which is like the Jenckes Street garden—when I enter.
I sneak into the back room and see one of two Christmas trees (exactly mirror-images of each other—one in the back room, one in the front) reflected in the sliding glass door (like the one that used to be in Jenckes Street before the renovation).
Slowly, through the reflection of Christmas lights, I begin to see what I think are two animals: a human-sized fox holding a baby-sized raccoon. But the more my vision adjusts and becomes used to the figures, the more I understand that the raccoon is a human baby in a raccoon suit and that the woman holding her has dark red hair in two twists that I had first mistook for fox ears. She looks like a younger, cuter version of me.
I know that they have visited many times before but this is the first time they have wished to be seen. Unsure and even a little afraid, I decide to slowly slide open the door—I do not want to frighten them away—to invite them in. Perhaps they are hungry or cold. I wonder whether I should offer them bread and butter or cake.
They enter and she puts the baby on a chair. She wants to look at an arrangement of photos on the cement floor under the cooker. She is able to crawl under it and examines the photos from my family with interest and care. I wait, unsure what to do, looking from the baby to the Christmas lights reflected in the glass.
6th December 2018
Not in a body[ii]
I float down the corridor in a strange house and look into the room on the right
It is Mother’s
A small room—the one where she died—with an unmade white bed, narrow
That is not like her, I think, to die without making the bed
Her husband slept in it after she died, to be near her
Dream ε0 = 1 & μ0 = 1
Light and Upon Reflection
A woman in mid-19th century Paris sits at a dressing table, looking in the mirror.
Her dark hair is pinned on top of her head.
She wears a white lace blouse.
She reminds me of Manet’s women.
The wood-paneled wall on which the mirror is mounted is surrounded by thousands of tiny lights.
They reflect in the mirror and onto her skin, creating an almost blinding brilliance.
I am behind her, seeing her in the reflection.
I have a small black camera from the 60s—the kind you look at through the lens on top of the machine.
In the camera, she glows even more.
I attempt to capture the gorgeous image but am frustrated by my lack of skill.
I regret that I am not more practiced in the art of slowly moving my hands with complete control to pan out from the mis-en-scene.
It becomes clear to me that I should study butoh so that I can control every movement of my muscles.
[i]Bardo (Tibetan, bar ‘interval’ & do ‘two’): a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death.
[ii] Psychopomp (Greek, pompos ‘conductor or guide’ & psyche ‘breath, life, soul, mind’): a guide into the afterlife or through life transitions. Valkyries, Hermes, Anubis, the Archangel Michael…Angels, animals, birds…Ancestors and friends…all have acted as psychopomps.