Monday, February 15, 2016

I am sitting at the kitchen table writing to you and Tom is getting ready to put a second coat of paint on the living room walls and the cat is playing with the bathtub drain and the dog is curled up on the square of Breathless Drambuie that Tom cut out for her before he dragged the rest of the brown rug to the dump.

The subflooring is littered with ancient baby and pet stains, and paint specks, and smears of spackle, but the walls are now a lovely shade of watery blue-green. The yellow chairs are pulled up around the hearth like stumps around a campfire.

The temperature outside is 10 below zero. I am thinking of the poems of Cavafy.
He didn’t know, King Kleomenis, he didn’t dare—
he just didn’t know how to tell his mother
a thing like that: Ptolemy’s demand,
to guarantee their treaty, that she too go to Egypt
and be held there as a hostage—
a very humiliating, indecorous thing.
And he would be about to speak yet always hesitate,
would start to tell her yet always stop.
--from "In Sparta," trans. E. Keeley and P. Sherrard
Boys and their mothers, boys and their mothers.

Her response? "She laughed, saying of course she’d go, / happy even that in her old age / she could be useful to Sparta still."

No comments: