Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday Scribblings #190: Beauty


The fog rolled in about three in the afternoon, bright blue sky morning turning to midnight black. Where she’d found the fog is anyone’s guess—her own pockets, upstairs, downstairs cabinets, her need was on the clock, circus of visiting family, circus of boys will be boys, testosterone cowboys, testosterone jockeys, and the gathering coo of mothers and aunts, hymns to family and reconciliations and forgettings, the biggest forgetting the absence she stumbled in, room to room, voracious lean panther foraging for the meat of self-destruction.

We’d picked her up in the fairy tale morning of Morristown, in golden autumn shade, the grey hag I’d imagined after all these years still the winsome lass, under a tangle of unkempt reunion hair, blossom fur you’d almost want to call it, a nest she carried, a place to lie down, carrion comfort. Standing there in front of the bank, no business of hers, looming fantasies of commerce in the abandoned fairy hall of her brain. Across the street to the old trust building, dignified aunt in her starchy columns now tamed by the ubiquitous green awnings at her feet. Chapel Hill, Ashland, Waitsfield, Bethlehem, anywhere, I thought, where youth lolls in splendor and dreams dream long into the fairy night. N turned in the tiny village street and we were off through the trees back to grandma’s house.

The others off to the childhood playgrounds, I sat at the table with S and split a bottle of pomegranate cider in tiny port glasses, playing the games of backgammon diplomacy, the tiny tits for tat that make, in the roll of dice and the click of tiles (and later, the shuffle of cards), for shadowy regard and weary détente. The morgue had not yet set in, though A was already rummaging. I poured her a glass of the cider as she walked through with her poverty of gleanings in a plastic bag. The smell of cigarette smoke poured off the woman who’d once gently argued the merits of soy in my coffee, heresy at the time to a man just two years from the magic of Fat City waiters pouring elixir from steamed copper lanterns of righteous brew.

It started, of course, with mild tangents and tea-time lunacies, before flowering into the black storm that swept the dinner table with its liturgy of recognitions, a ghost who could not perch, conversing with the masks she’d placed on all those around the table. At one point the two boys, ten and seven, were the thieves of the cheap necklace she’d lost under the table with the cell phone that had slipped from her grasp.

N and I drove her back out into the night at last, first to the music shop for an incomprehensibly long round of negotiations—an alms house, really, demure pawn priest behind the counter, selling whatever tiny bit of solace he could muster. From there, her dark eye ticked off the donut shops we passed on the way to weary Walt’s weary Camden. I wonder if his ghost still walks its streets, turns, as N did, in front of Diane’s Furs, tiger behind glass, patron saint to the nomads at the Nomad Motel just down the weary block.

N pulled in behind the building, dark and abandoned but for one other silver car. Of course, the red key was not to be found, just the yellow (“to the bathroom at work”). I knelt in the dark and sifted through the avalanche of her purse, who knows what salvation still lurked there, out of sight, beyond the reach of daily probing fingers. A walked three doors down, words with the hidden figure inside the door, comes back with yet another tale from another time. We walk round the building, up the hill to the office. Bearded ferryman looms behind glass, sends us back down the hill to the housekeeper’s, the very same door she knocked on minutes before. Rita, lovely Rita, with her dim old woman’s smile of blessing comes out, takes us all by the hand, gently, as gently as she opens A’s door and steers her in, and for the moment, yet again, in the darkest of places, I know that we—and more importantly, A—are still in the presence of God, nesting even for the unnestled.



Blogger MichaelO said...

You seemed to have been gallivanting about my memory lanes and hauntings, Pasqual. Be it Morristown or Town of Moore? Whatever it be, I seem to know the dignified aunt. Soy in the coffee?! Say it ain't so? No friend of chickory, that.

"...Conversing with the masks she’d placed on all those around the table". I love that imagery right there!

How weary Walt's Camden is. But paste these Rte. 38 landmarks on me? Diane's Furs?! Glassed tigers? The Nomad hotel? I'm suddenly 6 years old looking out the rear window of my mothers '63 Mercury station wagon.

Thanks for sharing this glorious wildebeest. And Happy Thanksgiving to you.

10:59 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...


In point of fact, I was entirely in your neck of the woods, blowing into Marlton last Friday night for Tina's family, a pre-Thanksgiving reunion. We had not been there for nine years. This pretty much chronicles the Saturday we spent witnessing sister A's addicted darkworld, picking her up outside the TD Bank in Moorestown (I purposely misspelled the town, to ensure the correct pronunciation), while she was relatively light and lucid, and then following down the dark ladders of unmasking.

Lithe A in her more ethereal days did indeed argue the merits of Silk creamer as a soy sub for steamed milk and chicory. We knows mo betta, though in those daze she knew mo healthy.

There is indeed a Diane Furs that loomed up out of the weary dismal dark of Camden, a fake Bengal tiger behind a second floor plate glass window, just a block or two down from the Nomad Motel. It was, of course, a sad time, but also a strangely blessed time. I think that, in her own tangential way, sister A wanted to show herself as she is, not some fairy tale version, and in I suppose my own bizarre way, I felt the gift of that as her uncle N and I drove her "home" to Angel Rita.

Google-image "Diane Furs Camden" to see el tigre in all its glory...

11:33 AM  
Blogger San said...

This has a cinematic feel. I'm picturing the narrator as Philip Seymour Hoffman and A as Diane Wiest. I can really see her adorned in a cheap necklace, losing her keys--literal and metaphorical--having slid downhill from discourses on soy creamer to 'I need a smoke, I need a drink.' And no one but P.S. should do the honors of rummaging through the refuse of that purse of hers.

(I know the narrator bears a strong resemblance in "real" life to Tim Robbins, but this is a reality of a higher order.)

12:43 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

This piece takes me away. Returns me to a shaky road and lifts me away again. Incredible imagery that sends an invasion of tentacles to areas once thought hidden. Wonderful.

12:57 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Sister San: The closer in, the fewer the words? Had this been my own bambino, I doubt I could have found words and distance and a sense of the dark Chaplinesque theater unfolding around me. The sense of blessing would, I think, have been there, however, as God ever conspires as she will.

5:11 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tumblewords: I love the poetry of your comment. Thank you, as always, for your generosity, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

Where she'd found the fog? And oh the boys, the cowboys, the jockeys and the gathering coo. I was lost in the phrasing and rhythm and the fairy tale morning and the nest she carried and abandoned fairy hall of her brain. The tit for tat diplomacy game with all the clicking and shuffling and of course soy in your coffee is heresy!

Lovely Rita, meter maid showing you the way, I was humming "All gone to look for America" by the end, Amen :)
Then I read the comments and find awe in the painting of this picture that shows the blessing in the pain. Family holidays are not covers from the old Saturday Evening Post, though we still carry the expectations which leads to more bitter than sweet sometimes. It becomes homecoming blessing and time to hug mr. baby and give thanks. Glad you all made it back safely to Muravia.

7:56 PM  
Blogger anno said...

Didn't think there was even a trace of poetic response lingering in this soul of mine, these days apparently comprised of post-it notes and lists of things to do. This dreamy piece -- part pain, part grace -- stopped the metronome, and for a moment, there was peace, the beauty your eye always seems to find. Thank you, prijatelj. Wishing you & your family and wonderful Thanksgiving!

8:07 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Good evening, Dee: The whole pish, posh, hieronymus bosch, it seems: all there, all present, all winking in the eye. We are glad to be back, glad to be lazing the rest of this week.

8:12 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: I would have thought I was pushing it, confabulating, until Rita walked out of the other room down the way. There was something so gentle in her manner, I felt the portals had opened, and not just A's door.

Still smell the food cooking down here. Must know what's on the menu. Best to you all.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

The beginning pulled me in, fog in pockets, upstairs, downstairs.... wonderful creativity here!

Thank you for your heartfelt holiday greeting!
Wishing you and family a lovely Thanksgiving~

11:46 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

MizLee: Thank you for all your visits here, and thank you for all the beauty you bring to the blogosphere.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Sepiru Chris said...


You confound and astound on the lyrical, visual rebound.

I'll stop. I'm not lyrical tonight, and I am utterly entranced with this sketch.

And with your comments to all.

I googled up Diane's, and it is weary. That hat on the poor Tiger, obviously a vegetarian too, with a surplus of carrot in his diet... very wearying for him, or her, I am sure.

But, whether based on reality, as you say it is, on on the will-o-wisps that lead you, and us, on merry chases, this is yet another fine piece.

I cannot get over how lucky, I think, your students are.

And I am to have stumbled upon your work.

I really don't know what to say to finish this comment off. Words fail me.

You craft wonderful worlds with verbal melodies and rhythms and beats and sheer grooviness.

Rock on, Brother. And Happy Birthday, belated, and Happy US Thanksgiving.

I await the tryptophan-induced dreams in your next post.


8:20 AM  
Blogger Sepiru Chris said...

And as I retreat back to my blog, I discover that you were just there.

My ears, or yours, must have been burning.

Take care,

8:22 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Chris: Beware the turkey (even fauxturkey) dreams of the CenTexans, home ground, not adrift in Jerseyville with the Bengal behind glass. "Will-o-wisps": I like that, apt description of what fuels the fictive brain/brine. As always, I am deeply appreciative of the generosity of your comments. May your dreams be blessed.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

I read this yesterday, Murat, and had to sleep on it and read it again. It took me on a whole 'nother tack since I don't know CenTex.

I thought you were sounding off on the beauty of family and extolling the goddess in all her phases: the virgin beauty (alluring to men and boys), the mother cooking for the clan and cooing over the infants, and then the hag with the fog and the ravens and the graveyards and the slums.

But then again, maybe you were praising the goddess, just celebrating her three-fold image as it glimmered and winked at you from among the women you know and love.

This is a really powerful piece, bro.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

12:35 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...


I like your extended takes on this piece a lot, though they are far far away from the conscious intentions as I sat down to write. In truth, your tesserine exegeses are not that far at all, I see, because there were in fact all manner of goddess faces gazing through the faces of that Jersey trip.

Blessed Thanksgiving back at you.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous missalister said...

The first paragraph is a gem, and of course I dig the pomegranate cider in tiny port glasses and the tiny tits for tat, the avalanche of her purse, to name a few. And hear, hear! to sister A showing herself as she is, anyway. I’m flirting with my own disaster: ditching some of the shoulds of my dutiful days for a little Jack and shit, shit being whatever I think will strip me down to me. No easy thing.

4:38 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Sweet Sister, I'm all for ditching the shoulds, but keep the flirtation just that: this is one commitment you don't want to make. Sister A (Jersey A, not her Muchness) fell into her plunge years ago and only rarely gets her head above water. I found myself moved to steward her back out into her night, and felt an intimacy even as she was in full flight, but this derangement of the senses was more than even Rimbaud bargained for, and even he was off to Harar for the final strippings.

Still, all leering double entendres aside, I'm all for that which strips us down to essense: I believe that is what all this unhorsedness is about. May you find yourself further and further in the forest primeval, very comfortable in your beautiful skin.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous My Bambino said...

Great Post.....

I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

Thanks for sharing....

12:59 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

MB: Glad you stumbled, and thanks for the good words.

5:54 AM  

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