Thursday, January 26, 2012

Week in Seven Words #103

The takeout sushi and blaring battery-powered car have distracted him for long enough. He crawls to the bookcase in the corner of the room and uses a shelf to pull himself up and stand before it. We think it's wonderful that he's interested in books at his tender preliterate age, and when he starts to scratch the spines of the books, up and down, it looks like he's trying to break through them to get to the good stuff inside. One of his older siblings tells us that he likes scratching them because of the funny sounds they make, a raspy choir of book spines; we shouldn't start calling him a scholar yet. But maybe that's how a kid starts loving books, because of the weird sounds and sensations, the look and feel of them.

Snow coming down like curtains around the world.

He tells me what he needs for inspiration. It isn't the recreation room with its tables full of old folks bent over pieces of paper. It isn't the ballet playing on the large T.V. in the corner, though he watches it from time to time with a far-off look in his eye, Romeo locked in dance with Juliet to the music of Prokofiev. What he needs is a room with a piano and sunlight and peaceful solitude.

I stare out the window and pretend that the lab technician is not currently rooting around in the crook of my elbow trying to coax blood out of my vein.

Blow up a balloon and pinch the end shut between your fingers. Then tape it to a straw. Slip the straw onto a wire or long piece of string, and tie the wire/string between two chairs or the walls of a room. Release the balloon. As the air flows out, the balloon-straw contraption rockets forward. Most of the time. Sometimes the balloon makes a horrible whining noise and deflates in agony without moving.

On Martin Luther King Day there's a sing-a-long at the nursing home. The pianist and singer, who isn't much younger than the residents, grew up in the segregated South. The audience, mostly wheelchair-bound and living in different states of lucidity and coherence, were a part of that era too; it's likely that there are civil rights protesters and activists among them, and people who went to hear King speak. Some of them remember, and for others this is a pleasant interlude of songs unconnected to anything past or future. But often they know the words; the words and melodies and sentiments of old beloved songs stay with them even when other things crumble.

People expect cutesyness from young kids. They want to imagine that a first or second grader for instance doesn't have any serious fears or frighteningly complicated thoughts. Probably because as adults we often can't handle those kinds of thoughts well ourselves, and we hope that children won't demand more of us than the regular pat reassurances.