After she’s gone to camp, in the early
evening I clear out our girl’s breakfast dishes
from the rosewood table and find a dinky
crystallised pool of maple syrup, the
grains standing there, round, in the night, I
rub it with my fingertip
as if I could read it, this raised dot of
amber sugar, and this time
when I think of my father, of the Vulcanblood-red
glass in his hand, or his black hair gleaming like a
broken open coal. I think I learned
to love the little things about him
because of all the big things
I could not love, no one could, it would be wrong to.
So when I fix on this image of resin,
or sweep together with the heel of my hand a
pile of my son’s sunburn peels like
insect wings, where I peeled his back the night before camp
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have- as if it were a duty
to find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.
Once upon a time a friend of mine walked through my house and said, "Goodness Alison if only your housekeepers knew the truth about your house: cracked lino and Finn’s scribbles on the wall…". Well yeeeees, I thought, looking at her in mild astonishment and wondering if I have rendered myself oblivious to ugly truths and taught myself only to see what is lovely?
I have long considered this a gift: to be able to see only good. To forgive ugliness and ill-treatment. To ignore the hole in the lino, because there is nothing to be done about it until I’m slightly richer than I am right now and smile instead at the pile of vintage cookbooks I refer to on a daily basis. I do it with everything you see. Sometimes to my detriment. I look at my thighs and think hell’s bell, the universe hasn’t been kind there lady, but heck thats a cleavage and a half you’ve got going on there Missus! I forgive abysmal behaviour in men who are clearly drunk. Or bonkers. Or both. And think instead well yes, he’s a hopeless cause but heavens a girl could drown in those blue eyes! I dim the lights and pretend theres no such thing as dust, forgive Finn just about anything cos he’s got such delicious curly hair and do nothing at all about the size of my bum because I have decided I am Rubenesque and the rest of the world is just gonna have to deal with both that and the fact that the slates on my roof are in a sorry state, but that wreath on my front door is a joy to behold in every passing heart.
I am foolish. And proud. And yet part of me suspects that this is my problem. That life would be easier, happier, no scrap that, just easier, if I weren’t so very stubborn about seeing only the little things and forgetting the bigger picture. That there is a tomorrow after today and my word wouldn’t life be fine and dandy if I could be the kinda woman with a five year plan and a careless disregard for the miniscule detail that makes my heart sing on a daily basis…?