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FAMILY PORTRAIT

Frederick Lightfoot 

(The moment of tableau, no more than a few minutes or so, takes place at a dinner table. There are three women. As we look one of the women sits directly ahead of us. Her posture, her entire demeanour, is very rigid. As rigid, in fact, as the shaft of a spear planted in concrete. Her head is a spearhead. Twists of dry, over treated, short, bleached hair create the suggested outline. Imagine it as a partial, only partial, silhouette. To her right a younger woman sits, leaning forward, the palms of her hands touching along the length of her fingers. There is a cold plate in front of her The other two are yet to put a serving onto their plates. Opposite her, sits a woman of comparable age. She leans back, apparently at her ease. She is the only one who ever looks towards the other two, albeit momentarily.) 

Since father's death surfaces in the house have never been quite so clean as they once were. Mother is aware of this. The awareness does nothing to heighten or lessen her grief; rather, it highlights the everyday, common place, inconvenience his absence has caused her. I am sure that is the root cause of her anger. Unless it is us. As time moves on, I find it increasingly difficult to even look at her

Now or never. One or the other.

Tick-tock Dance. Dog annuls dog. The escape, which is simply into time, on time, is effected.

When I was a child her face was chalky white. Chalky white but at the same time clear, clear and fresh. One could imagine it sprinkled with large water drops. Again and again. Like baptism. Fresh and invigorated. In fact, as white as a geisha. Now she simply looks ill. Without foundation, lipstick, makeup, she looks ill, She knows it. She is ill at will.

My sister's voice is a clarinet. It sounds in energetic bursts but never attains beauty. Never achieves movement, which is frivolity, which is muscular Dancing is out of the question for her. As is singing. Her accent, her vocabulary, her phrases, jar on the ears. She has inherited father's whine and belief in fate. By the same token she also replicates his predilection for food. She eats with relish, cannot decide whether that is healthy or unhealthy. It is certainly unattractive. She definitely perpetuates his passion for pickled sauces. Now.

He must have picked up a cloth at any quiet opportunity and simply wiped away the dust. He seems to have been particularly diligent in the kitchen, have discovered that it is a positive magnet for dust. If he had not died might have entered marriage never knowing the workload and responsibility involved in simply maintaining a dust - free environment How much else has been concealed from me? What else did he not say? 

We encapsulate too much. Give ourselves too many dead lines Save ourselves too often for another time. Time' It dogs us. Makes us snarl. Woof! I might as well bark. I will not be heard. It is not that we do not listen. We do listen. We listen all of the time. We listen because we are always on our guard. However, we no longer understand words, The only things we understand are shop scale commerce. Not words! Indices. I want I do not want... Yes, I want.., I want to speak words. Escape my words One A. Leg Walk, Run. Fly. Dance. Never Never, never, never!

White and sulky. it might go on for days A smiler. A sulker. A geisha. Why? He was doing the wiping.

She led him a dog's life but he never barked, snapped, or pissed with his leg cocked up. She must have been bored. Bored senseless, in fact. One has to admit it. Devotion and obedience make for something cheerless and shallow. And then, of course, there was the small matter of her appetite for sex. It might be kinder to say man; but why kid ourselves. I may as well be precise. After all, words can be precise. Words! All right! I myself have a growing appetite for what I see she relished. Now! She is such a disappointment. I despise her in so many ways. I should say it. Now. Now. Yes. Call her. Now!

Bounced.Turned. Rotated. Held. Loved. Can something so centrifugal be love? it was vigorous and resilient. No words. An obsession though. An obsession he would not speak

Now.

Wipe

Never.

Swish

One.

Surface.

Woof

Clean.

Dog.

Geisha.

Never.

Clean