My grandmother lived on a cliff on an island and the walls in her front room were the color of bone, the color of the soft underside of certain mushroom caps. They were stark and alive in an earthly way. Two windows faced east and the wide-planked floors were painted a salty blue. At sunrise, light slid over the ocean and into the room, then speared it with a burning rip of peach, the day entering full force. Another window to the right of the bed faced southeast toward town. The curtains were white, thin, and the wind moved all through the room.
The room was charged. The curtains were not erotic, though they drifted in the wind like nightgowns. The heavy bureaus were not erotic, and when the drawers were pulled open, always with effort, they smelled of mothballs and dusty linen. The walls were bone. The floors were blue. They were not erotic. Something moved through this room, wind or ghosts or both. The room was charged with a presence I’m not sure I’m meant to name nor could if I wanted to. I have known no room so intimately lit by dawn’s entry.
Dawn burned in, and one morning a lover in the bed said, “Look.” Neither of us was all the way awake. And we turned toward each other, this was when we were new, and we pressed against each other. Maybe it was the ghosts that whispered yes, yes, now, right now, while you’re fleshed and ready, while you still cast shadows, now, yes, an urging from another world, touched by dawn’s rose fingers. We heeded it. And we slept again and woke when the morning was real.
The house is gone. My grandmother, too. But there are moments, in between sleep and wake, when I am in this room, and I see the windows and those white curtains, the dark weight of the bureaus to the right, a closet space in the left corner of the room doored with an off-white piece of cloth. And then my eyes begin to adjust. The bureaus burn away like fog in sun. The windows seem to be pulled up and away, as though on strings, and my own wide desk comes into view. The closet retreats through the wall, and bookcases appear in its place. Two windows descend to my right, overlooking no ocean. The eyes adjust; the edges get revealed; the blur comes into focus. Read More