Juste une fable n° 65
was i being patient when i was down on the floor of the closet?
looking at all those shoes.
most of them were too big for me, some had a 9 on them and belonged to tina. those had all kinds of shapes and colors and had not really the mark of a person on them. they were more an assembly of brands.
yet a couple of pairs belonged to lise. there was one that had fabric inside with a swirly white and red pattern, but with a dark, perhaps navy blue outside, which could have been worn in the forties and had the imprints of her then still flexible and delicate feet. and there was another flat pair of hers, which i tried but wouldn't fit.
but then as if in a dream,
a satisfying hallucination,
i saw the pair that was meant for me, they were silver, delicate sandals, a bit smaller than could be worn by any of the ladies who came before me. they were light and shining, they had straps that came over the arch of the foot and the heel and a loop for the toe. they would fit me perfectly and also fit even better when i passed them on to angie.
so i grabbed them out of the closet and went out once again in the land where i never tire to look for what's happening really underneath the sediment of days,
and the drudgery that eventually wears everything down to silt.
what i saw was wondrous and it made me aware and secure that i still contain lise within me even if it is in regions where i can't exactly prop her up and take her with me to department functions, seat her across a diner table, and allow her meekly to pay as usual for my lunch.
this happened while i was walking in a garden where plenty of attendants were cutting in a very methodical way
rows and rows of lilacs, and also of lavender plants.
but the latter were not the solid, sturdy purple plants one sees all over provence. blooming here was more of hybrid, maybe a cross between the aforementioned flowers and lilies and magnolias. these were flowers as trafficked and extraordinary as something that might have been
grown by your father if a vegetable,
or if it was strictly a poetic image by huysmans after baudelaire.
what we had were fabulous flowers flowing from vines that mixed up all the ones that must have been favorites of my mother.
they had little to do with me, for there wasn't anywhere a rose in sight. and these rows and rows of flowers were being carefully cut by men who were following orders, and cleaning the beds of all debris. and then the flowers were being stacked up again and covered with snug tarps for the winter.
all that lise loved and that i wanted to remain with her image,
that you carry in your heart,
was being harvested, was being stacked and preserved for the next planting, perhaps back inside one of the greenhouses that used to belong to father, or perhaps rather forward in the ample garden of that mansion i'm determined to carry within me
and elaborate further down the road each night.
Mary Shaw est professeure de littérature française des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles à l'Université de Rutgers (New Jersey). Outre ses travaux universitaires, elle a publié deux livres pour enfants ainsi qu'un recueil de poésie intitulé Album Without Pictures (Halifax, N. S., Editions VVV, 2008).