Sunday Morning

“She had described her home and her life in a way that had often returned to me during those years and that I could still clearly recall. Her description of the town where she lived – a place I had never been to, though I knew it wasn’t far from here – and of its beauty had been particularly tenacious: it had often, as I had said, returned to my mind, to the extent that I had wondered why it did. The reason, I thought, was that this description had a finality to it that I couldn’t imagine ever attaining in my own circumstances. She had talked about the placid neighbourhood where she had her home with her husband and children, with its cobbled streets too narrow for cars to pass down, so that nearly everyone travelled by bicycle, and where the tall, slender gabled houses were set back behind railings from the silent waterways on whose banks great trees stood, holding out their heavy arms so that they made plunging green reflections in the stillness below, like mirrored mountains. Through the windows you could hear the sounds of footsteps on the cobbles below and the hiss and whirr of bicycles passing in their shoals and drifts; and most of all you could hear the bells that rang unendingly from the town’s many churches, striking not just the hours but the quarter and half hours, so that each segment of time became a seed of silence that then blossomed, filling the air with what almost seemed a kind of self-description. The conversation of these bells, held back and forth across the rooftops, was continued night and day: its cadences of observation and agreement, its passages of debate, its longer narratives – at matins and evensong, for instance, and most of all on Sundays, the repeating summons building and building until it was followed at last by the joyous, deafening exposition – comforted her, she had said, as the sound of her parents’ lifelong conversation had comforted her in her childhood, the rise and fall of their voices always there in the next room, discussing and observing and noting each thing that happened, as though they were making an inventory of the whole world. The quality of the town’s silence, she had said, was something she only really noticed when she went elsewhere, to places where the air was filled with the drone of traffic and of music blaring out of restaurants and shops and the cacophony from the endless construction sites where buildings were forever being torn down and then put up again. She would come home to a silence that at those times felt so refreshing it was like swimming in cool water, and she would for a period be aware of how the bells, far from disturbing the silence, were in fact defending it.”

~ Rachel Cusk, Kudos: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; June 5, 2018)


Notes: Photo above & Book Review: ‘Kudos’ by Rachel Cusk deserves kudos indeed.  This book, the last of a trilogy, was named one of the NY Times Top 100 Books of the Year in 2018 and an Amazon Book of the Month in June 2018. Reader beware, imo, “Outline (Trilogy Book 1)” and Transit (Book 2) were preferred by this reader.

Driving I-95 S. Man on Wire.

“…In my own mind I’m a mirror. I see everything except myself. This way I can’t lose: even when broken, a polished surface reflects whatever looks in. – Rita Dove, from “Self-Portrait


Scene: I-95, between Exits 7 & 8 in Stamford, CT.  Morning commute.

Except for early morning hours, holidays, and snow storms, the scene is the same: traffic at a standstill for three exits.

I sit with hundreds of others in a sea of red tail lights.

There’s a flutter of wings, I shift my attention from Ahead to Up.  Birds on power lines, lines crossing six lanes of I-95. Never once noticed these lines on my commute. Hundreds of passings? Thousands?

Why, sit on this line, on this highway?

Why, all sit on the same line?

Why here, of all places on Earth?

There’s a quick beep-beep behind me, a large gap has opened up in front.

I glance at the driver in my rear view mirror, give him a wave, and in the split second on my return to I-95, I catch Me in the same mirror.

The red tail lights flicker, traffic is moving, and Me along with it.

Yes, why?


Notes: Post Title taken from Philippe Petit’s “Man on Wire

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