Writer. Mother. Natural brunette.
Two weeks ago: a fabulous conversation between these two musicians to end the Greensboro Bound Book Festival. Ani talked a lot about her daughter, aged 12, who's begun to write songs and play music. Tears came into my eyes when she said that her daughter was also beginning to put on headphones and close her door, her mother left out or left behind. We know it will happens, that it should happen, our children starting to become distant from us. We want it to happen, we want them to become their own people, separate from us. And yet.... It's strange. It's new. It hurts.
Reading to/with Georgia, one of the joys of motherhood. Perhaps the chief joy. Sometimes we still do, though the books now have fewer pictures. More graphic novels in our future!
My daughter amid the April blossoms at UNC Chapel Hill and Elizabeth Bishop's senior photo. Both writers, both making their way into the world.
This photo was taken by my former student and dear friend Sara Aros. Sara and her daughter and husband took a trip to the City of Light, and Sara brought my novel. Perfect café reading except that the book appears to take up the entire table. Literally, you can't put it down, at least not in Paris.
I visited Paris four times (the first time she was in utero) with my daughter, which added an additional kind of charm to this already beautiful and compelling city.
I'm sorry Sara and her family won't get to see the inside of Notre Dame on this trip, but this gives them--and all of us--a reason to return.
Thank you, Sara, for the photograph.
For John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill Read: Duxbury
It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.
The sky was darker than the water
--it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints). Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over. Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost...
A kite string?--But no kite.
I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of--are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.)
I'd like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l'américaine.
I'd blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
--at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by--perfect! But--impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.
On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
--a sun who'd walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.
I loved these novels, became totally lost in the stories and was sorry to see each one end.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney and
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday are sometimes funny, but really very wise
Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty about
the complexities of long marriage and deeply moving
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
an intense, beautifully rendered story of teenage female friendship
A Separation by Katie Kitamura is exotic, spare, and
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie is a brilliant retelling of Antigone
Daughter home for the break, and I'm trying to remember my 19 year-old self who didn't want to hang out with her mom.