Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Unique Character Stands Out in My Reading

You know how some person or idea or subject you rarely think of or have never before heard of turns up in your life and then, within 24 or 48 hours, turns up again? There's a name for that but I don't know what it is.

Anyway, it happened just the other day while I was reading.

I had just opened an old issue of the Cider Press Review. [Here I have a confession to make. I opened it as I do magazines: at the back. I browse mags and newsletters from back to front and then read from front to back. Don't know why. I never read the ends of books first. It's a tactile thing, I think.] It's a poetry journal I picked up at the Printers' Ball and contains reviews of poetry books as well as contemporary poems. A snippet from Catherine Carter's first collection of poetry, The Memory of Gills, caught my eye. The narrator's "poisoned children gone in the swipe of cloth" continues:

We do not know
why it happened. . . .
Now when we think
of our new colony, on a tender island of potato
fallen between the wall and the toaster,
we are afraid. No one
is safe. The world is a desperate place.

Every mother can relate to those last two lines. This particular mother happens to be mold.

I was struck by the weirdness and randomness of a poem about pensive and pained mold.

Then, on the same day, mold figured into an essay in Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder. In "God's Wife's Measuring Spoons," Kingsolver frets about an upcoming interview with a reporter who wants to know what makes her tick:

How would you show a person how you tick? I considered giving her a tour of my office, but my writing desk looked the way it usually does: as if a valiant struggle involving lots and lots of papers had recently been fought and lost in there. This theme tends to repeat itself throughout our house—hmm, next the valiant struggle appears to have torn across all the beds, leaving the sheets tangled, then it must have passed through the playroom, touching off forceful eruptions of doll clothing and Legos, before finally exiting out the front door. One end of our dining table looks as if someone's running a mail-order business from it, but I swear it isn't me. Our house reveals about us the same thing my friends' homes do about them: here lives a busy family, most of whom have better things to do than put every single teensy thing exactly back where it belongs the minute they're done with it. I've heard that the amazing Martha Stewart has created a line of paints based on the tints of the eggs laid by her Araucana hens. I wonder, would she be interested in a line of less muted hues based on the molds I found growing on the end of the loaf of bread this morning?

I love Barbara Kingsolver for that passage alone. She makes me feel a little less like a failure. (Maybe I shouldn't have written that. After all, I did apply for a position at Marvelous Martha's company and now she'll know how un-Marthalike I am.) All those papers, the mail-order business,  the colored bread—the same valiant struggle gets fought in my house every day, too. Of course, I'm not a world-renowned activist and author with two children and a garden to tend to. But I take great pleasure in those short cables of connection writers unknowingly provide to me.

I don't know what else transpired that day I read Small Wonder and the Cider Press Review. But I will always remember it as my Day of Mold.


1 comment:

Pamela said...

Dear Lill,
Love your writing and am wracking my brain for... is it synchronicity? Not sure. Maybe it will come to me.
Thanks for the blog. I have it in my favorites now.
Pam

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