November dispatch #1

Friday, November 09, 2012

Just wait: soon enough
You will be quiet too.

--Robert Hass, "After Goethe"

Often in a play, a scene will open on a stage lit in such way as to remind you of individual consciousness spreading out into a shared domestic space.  A lamp, a rug, a plant.  The indication of a hearth.  A comforting sight and one with a slight frisson of dread.  


I'm studying the felt-ish skirt and colorful tights of a woman on the subway (one a leafy-loden green, one a subdued poppy), when I'm back in a dim fourth grade classroom watching a film about the Lapps.  All that year I was lost, except that afternoon in the dark room among the Laplanders and reindeer.


My friend left her humanities professorship to become a nurse.  The work is demanding, and she is often exhausted, often sore.  She reports that one man in his 90s wanted to watch a cowboy movie, so she found one for him, but when it flooded in the movie, it flooded in his room, and he called and called that they needed to move everyone to higher ground.  Sitting on the floor next to the bed and finding ways to calm him were a respite from the procedures and charts.  Being a presence for the dying may be her favorite part.  


In the dream, theories of home and of structure are something I can learn.  The seminar is called "What Is a Domicile?"  I will absorb the history of the dwelling place and develop the ability to infuse place with ritual significance.  A structure in which to reside.  An atmosphere both fluid and contained, which grounds and fades the ghosts.  We all live there together.

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