Jim was a photographic alchemist. Among his skills was the ability to transform green into silver.
But before devoting myself entirely to heavy minerals, I will share lighter, and (I hope) far lamer analogies I stumbled across while sorting through reams of papers in my attic. Jim often would forward me links that tickled his fancy. One of them was a list of some of the World’s Worst Analogies, which somehow had been printed out and made its way into one of the vast, random piles of paper which have since migrated to the attic. My favorites include:
“She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.”
“The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.”
Jim and I agreed on our top pick; we had very similarly twisted comedic sensibilities:
“She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.”
So back to quicksilver–which sometimes isn’t silver at all.
Quicksilver can be the deep red of oxygenated blood. In its mercuric sulfide form it is cinnabar. (The word “cinnabar,” however, never fails to conjure in my mind bellying up to a smooth mahogany bar to order a steaming iced cinnamon bun.)
As an adjective, the word is transformed to mean “rapid or unpredictable in movement or change.”
So there I was in the attic, sorting things to donate from things to hold onto. I grabbed a pile of things to sort and found a Father’s Day drawing a son had made for Jim, when that son was so young I had to write out the words for him before he gave this treasure to his dad. Our son had chosen to draw a cheerful green and blue turtle, so plump it was spherical, for his nature-loving father. Seeing it turned me to liquid silver. It made me yearn not just for Jim but also for the younger versions of these children I love so much–the children who had not yet been visited by cancer or watched a parent die.
Through the wash of tears I put the picture aside. I will keep it.
And then I continued going through the same pile, and found those analogies, and remembered Jim’s hearty laugh as he was reading them, and even laughed myself. A sniffly, wet laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon