the thought-stream of an artist and writer

Tracey Physioc Brockett

the thought-stream of an artist and writer

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1.Where the Story Starts

While I was very ill the last three days the daffodils have flowered and the lilacs have leafed, delicately, tentatively. Now the wind is blustering in that cold April way. In my feverish sleep of the dead I wandered through the basement of my childhood home and found the closets and drawers empty and turned to dust, and the playroom of so many hours as if abandoned for the 35 years I have been gone from it.

Also, I managed to find myself at my dentist of many years, to have a broken front tooth repaired, and though we were in a garden, he pulled the tooth and then left. He had seemed so nervous about something that was happening behind the scenes, and eventually I gave up hope and knew he had run away. He had talked while working on me about presenting my portfolio to someone he knew, but I couldn't do it now that I was toothless.

In the twilight sleep of the recovering I remembered M.'s friend and bluegrass duo partner Rick Fisk. He had a high sweet tenor voice and a quick and wild wit. In the days when they found themselves playing to inattentive crowds he would sing nonsense that would have the dead on the floor convulsed with laughter. When they played old timey ballads or gospel you could see all the pain and beauty in the world and want to weep with it. They were that good. After Rick had finished grad school and come back from Virginia they were going national. One night on a treacherous back road a young woman with a crying baby reached back for the baby bottle and then she and the baby were stunned, changed and Rick was gone. We always thought he'd be the one to cause an accident.

Early English had a word, "wyrd", pronounced roughly like our "weird", that meant fate. My etymological dictionary has our modern weird as a noun "fate: that which comes to pass" first, and then the adjective as we know it. In the fairy tales of my youth it was the destiny required of you. The Greeks wrote of the parts of the story the protagonist did not know but that which drove him inexorably to his end. Like our weird, it is dark, odd and unsettling, not to know what is ahead.

Three days for my mind to wander where it will and this is where it ended up. Because I have things I have wanted to say, since I studied history in college and saw how the world could turn on a simple thing done or not done." For want of a nail the horse was lost. For want of a horse the battle was lost."

Ultimately, I think this will be a happy story, or at least an uplifting one, though it will be long and I do not know the ending. I am Scheherazade spinning out the long nights and these are the stories I tell myself when there is a time to bear, to endure. It is like painting abstractly; follow what is already laid down and it will take you to the next place. It will take a while to recognize the important things among all the details that my senses remember. It is a journey, and I will try to enthrall you along the way.

I had grandparents who lived on the edge of a very large lake; a lake so large it was like an ocean. There was an immense Willow on the edge of the sea wall and the garden ran up a hill to a terrace that the house snugged around. When I was very small my grandfather owed much of the land on that point and it was eventually sold off and houses built on but their house always seemed like an island. It had been a polo ground, once… the stable paneling was now in my grandparent’s study, and there was a funny mound in the middle of the street where a famous polo pony had been buried standing up, with his tack on. This is a true story.

Oh, but I must begin again, for I have gotten it wrong.

Once there lived 2 elderly people in a white house by the edge of the sea. They had a very old weeping willow, and a little blue budgerigar named Peter who talked very quietly all day into the old man’s left ear. They had a big stain on their ceiling in the shape of a map of the world that they never would paint over because it was a map after all, and so very useful. The old man was tall and kindly and he liked to look out the window through his telescope at the boats that steamed by on their way to port. His little round wife had a gentle round face and she grew a little orange tree with tiny fragrant oranges on it, and she was always crocheting and used thread so fine it looked as if it had been spun by the fairies.

One day when she was visiting, the kindly old man gave his dark-haired little granddaughter a golden key and told her if she could find the door with the lock that fit it she could have what she liked behind the door. So she looked and looked, and although she had spent every Sunday playing in all the rooms and she thought she knew the house she could not find it. So she went outside to walk around the oak trees in the park for it was a nice sunny day and her mother told her not to stay indoors in the good weather, and she was a good girl and tried to listen well to her mother. And there, on the side of the house was a door she had never seen before, and the key fit right into the lock and turned.

to be continued....

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