I was able to capture some of the light, but neither the color nor the movement in this ephemeral vertical image–one that inescapably calls to my mind another vision of flora against water: a beach bouquet whose fleeting presence still soothes my heart.
In fact, the dancing ferns and layers of shimmering liquid, cast upon a wall the color of spun gold, did not exist (any more–and quite possibly less–than @InvisibleObama occupied that notorious chair).
The sun was just beginning to set. It struck an old, uneven pane of glass in front of which ferns swayed in a summer seacoast breeze. And for moments I could see in front of me a shimmering work of art that was not there.
“Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person,” wrote Anne Carson, “no use expecting a flood of light.” I am not so sure. . . .
Lately I have been under yet more stress than even regular readers know to expect. Yet amid the chaos, twice today I stood stock still at tricks of light I’d never seen before–just as I’m sure Jim would have, had he been the one here to see such sights.
I looked at the gold wall where I had placed a large canvas my daughter created of a golden folk art bird next to which she had painted an illuminated bulb–a beacon against a dark background.
It was the same painting Jim had asked our daughter’s permission to place on his office wall, where the late afternoon sun must have danced on it through slatted shades.
It was one of the few personal things Jim and I took from his office when we went there last, just before a winter trip to oncology not long before he died. Gently, protectively, he carried out the painting. I carried a box containing three books Jim thought I might want to read, photographs Jim had taken, pictures of our children, and a small clay bag bearing the name “Dr. Glennon.” A patient had given it to him when he started his practice.
We knew then that he would not be coming back to work. Already, papers and files had filtered onto his desk, where other physicians had sat while trying to manage some of his workload.
As I finished a penultimate chore this evening, I wearily stepped out onto a sidewalk. Instead of the customary one or two seagulls wandering about the concrete, two dozen of them were soaring in circles above me in a clear sky.
As I stepped out, the sunlight struck them all with panels of blinding white that sparkled like stars. From any other angle, at any other moment, I wouldn’t have seen the dazzling sight.