Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Aruna's Eyes

Before my father walked into the light my mother's eyes were the color of a caelum sky. She never saw the vile things he did. His tea, with milk and spice was always ready for him. On days that he spent time with us, she smelled of vanilla and rose. He gave her treasured jewels that she kept in pill boxes. There was always something new for her to wear. She was a tall woman, the length of secrets, her legs slender and always bare of stockings. Her dresses were short: violets, crimson, maroon, thick belts hugged her slim waist. She was henna and onyx. Beautiful and strange. Why would my father lose his way?

Her eyes found a way to see only what she wanted to know. Only what was undisturbed, newly born, not yet tarnished.

He would only stay for a few days at a time. His work was important, my mother would say. And in his absence she would play her violin. I'd listen to her, playing to the wind, spying on her from a window bench in an upstairs room. She kept her distance from me during this time. She roamed our house alone, those days when I lived with a ghost. I was left to care for myself. My clothes didn't get washed but I would cook my own meals. I learned to bake, scones and muffins for dinner, hoping that the scents would awaken my mother. Outside, under a trellis, crawling with stars from jasmine and anise, I would find her sitting for hours. When my father was away she didn't eat. She would make bouquets, ornamenting her empty space, her violin never leaving her shoulder, bottles of Bordeaux, Massandra, and Montrachet she emptied.

My father had another life. It wasn't as though I didn't know this. She forced me to believe that he had troubles, ones that he needed to figure out in his own space. My mother fooled herself, she decided that I was naive.

There was an autumn morning when the world was turning orange and the winged things were taking flight. I woke up early knowing that my father had left in the middle of the night. I found a stack of boxes sitting on our kitchenette table. Gorgeous hat boxes, I know they held things that made women beautiful, perfumed scarves, mohair and muslin.

I played in the garden till noon that day. When my mother decided to wake she came to visit me. She walked towards me softly, her feet bare, her presence unexpected. Across from me she hugged herself, draped in a cream colored robe. Her skin was starchy and pale and she smelled of grapes and sickness. She explained to me that my father was gone. She told me that he had taken his life or so, that his troubles had taken him. She said that he suffered deep inside of his head. My mother stood across from me that day, her cheeks salty and smeared with blush, and covered me with her lie. She said that he faded into the light, this is what she said. I knew it was a lie; he decided to stay in that other world that he lived in, leaving my mother and her blueish eyes, colorless and faint. Leaving her to fill her boxes with shame.

For dVerse Poets, happy anniversary, on Open Link Night. Cheers!

22 comments:

  1. How utterly mesmerizing is is this beautiful story of a child's view of a breaking marriage. You are able to create such intimacy in your choice of words and with them show how the little girl grew up to observe and understand life and it's hardships. When you write it is as though you place a finger on our hearts and we are transformed. (ps. In the third line from the end 'say' perhaps should be 'stay'?

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    1. Hey, thank you for always staying tuned in. I enjoy your views. Thanks for the helpful things too. :)

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  2. She never saw the vile things he did...you caught me early on with this...ugh, by the end it was rather heartbreaking...nice on the boxes and then you turn them so we can fill them with shame as well...

    'he decided to s(t)ay'...

    really nicely written...i was enrapt...

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    1. Hi Brian. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, I wasn't sure if it held too many words. I'm noticing that most of dVerse is written in verse form, so I will make it shorter next time but, thanks so much for reading this. :)

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  3. Phew... what a deeply moving write. I didn't really believe this until a best friend of mine told me that her first husband whom she loved dearly, always worked away from home. Only ever came home for a week, once in maybe two months, she later discovered he had another life too. Another 'wife' whom he'd married. She was devastated. Maybe your mother just loved him so much it suited her to think he'd taken his life because she couldn't mentally cope with anything else? Whatever it was, how sad it was but, how well you wrote of it.

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    1. I think so, I would rather cope with believing the other also. I'm so sorry for your friend, just glad that she discovered the truth and I hope that she moved on gently. Thankfully, my mother did not have to discover these things.

      Thank you Bren, for reading and for sharing this story.

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  4. Love the prose share...I din't know you are talented as well in this form. I like the colors and how well you described her when the father was there, and when he was gone ~

    The ending is sad and unexpected ~ Over-all a beautiful post ~

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    1. Thank you so much Grace! And for acknowledging both forms. :)

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  5. "She was a tall woman, the length of secrets" ... Oh my gosh, are you kidding me?! I love reading a brilliant line of poetry like this ... one that makes me sit straight up in my chair, excited, saying, "Are you kidding me?" :)

    "my mother's eyes were the color of a caelum sky ... she smelled of vanilla and rose ... She was henna and onyx. Beautiful and strange." ... Can I have her? (along with her tea and scones)

    "when the world was turning orange" ... Mmmm.

    "hoping that the scents would awaken my mother" ... Goodness, this is so full of longing and hurt.

    "her cheeks salty and smeared with blush, and covered me with her lie" ... Wow.

    I love the first paragraph the most and all the scents throughout. This is so sad, and I'm very sorry for your loss and pain if it is true. What incredible writing, though. Beautiful work.

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    1. Shawna, I love how you share your thoughts, piece by piece. Yes she was henna and onyx and I did share plenty of toast and tea with her, but her fate was not the same as Aruna's. Thank you for your lovely words. :)

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  6. There's much veracity here whether autobiographical or not. I am very sorry for the child, I think absence (physical or psychological) from a parent is one of the most painful things a child can endure. Gorgeous and affecting writing.

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    1. Hi Anna, thanks for dropping in. There is a smell in here that I still remember but, my mother's days were not spent as a ghost. I agree, that the absence of a parent is the most extreme ache for a child, my husband and I hold our little ones close. :)

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  7. Flipside said it already! May all of our prose writing find such poetry and images, hard as they are to feel. I felt them, how thoroughly she lived for him! Only an illusion like death could keep her with her daughter, her daughter who, amazingly saw and understood--both her beauty/pain and her foolishness.

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    1. Thank you Susan! I like capturing these images through the eye of a child, through her mother would have been too difficult. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. :)

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  8. What a wonderfully sating piece of prose..i am always overwhelmed by the sights and flavours in your work..i like how the wisdom and seeing came from the child's point of view..although wouldn't it be good if she should was the one who was playing and pretending..jae

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    1. I so hope that the little ones who are forced to wake in this world find a way to play and pretend beyond it.

      Thank you, Jae, for these sweet words. :)

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  9. I drifted into this life so artfully told...awesome writing, tragic tale.

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  10. oh dang...excellent story telling but what a sad story...she needed him so much that she just couldn't live without lying to herself.. so hard

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    1. I can only imagine how numb she has to be. Thank you so much for reading, Claudia. :)

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    1. Oh, thanks for coming by, my love. :)

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