Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I woke up this morning with Whitman's phrase "Out of the cradle endlessly rocking" running through my thoughts like a brook. The sky was still dark, but the trees stood out in the blackness like darker shadows. A tiny red airplane blinked through their branches, the slowest airplane I have ever watched, doggedly swimming from left, to right, to vanishment. I was thirsty and not willing to be awake, but a car's passing headlights reminded me of childhood. Annie Thackeray Ritchie, writing in the 1890s, remarked of William Thackeray, "I have heard my father say that no author worth anything, deliberately, and as a rule, copies the subject before him." The Thackerays were close to the Stephens family, and one of the Stephens girls grew up to be Virginia Woolf. Then I read Virginia Woolf and grew up to be me, but first I read Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Everyone, it seems, is related to everyone else. Perhaps even the tiny red airplane matters in this genealogy. Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, and now daylight and the broken tips of trees and the rhododendrons shriveled with cold and the cigarette breath of the furnace. The verbs don't matter yet, and neither does the sun. Something will happen soon enough.