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Creek Running North

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September 17, 2004

The quilter

The instructions were clear. Sixteen identically shaped teapots were to nestle in sixteen quilt blocks, an inch or so of fabric between them. Orderly, refined, civilized. She took the plans, thanked the teacher, left the class, went home. Out came the scissors, the needle and thread.

By the time the teacher saw the result, the teapots had sprouted wings and flown across the grid. Airy cups rode flying saucers, teabags peeking just out over the brims. A cascade of calico tea flowed across the blocks, landed in a cup at the far end of the quilt. The teacher cleared her throat. “This is ... different,” teacher said, careful not to offend. The quilter had hoped for a little more shock.

She plays the violin these days, struggling through the Suzuki regimen. She wants to be a good student, to follow directions. But sometimes the geometric melodies wear on her, and she tires, and she relents to that beast inside her heart, and the languid strains of Ashokan Farewell echo through the neighborhood.

Sometimes her husband wakes at three am, sees the light on in the other room as she grades papers, clucking dismay at another wrong answer from the kid that has her worried. Other times he wakes and sees her eyes in the dark, watching him breathe. She gets less sleep than anyone he’s ever known, grasping at each waking moment until she falls insensate, her face against his chest.

The world turns around her. It would surely stop were she to rest. Once, twenty minutes before the guests were due to arrive, she decided the cake was far too plain, a void of chocolate. Five minutes later, a complex Celtic knot adorned the top, hand-drawn in white sugar. She fretted that it wasn’t perfect.

One evening in the year they fell in love, they went out to the Pacific as the fog descended. Great blue billows partially obscured the pink sky, as silver swells from off Japan broke at their feet. He wondered, suddenly, which planet he was on. Which had changed: the colors of sea and sky, or him? Fifteen years later he’s still not sure. Pink sky fades beyond black trees, and Ashokan Farewell echoes off the moon.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 17, 2004 03:58 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Comments

Lovely.

Posted by: the_bone at September 17, 2004 10:36 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Chris, you've made me fall in love with her, too.

Posted by: Siona at September 17, 2004 11:19 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

That's beautiful.

Posted by: dale at September 19, 2004 01:59 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Wonderful. Such a wonderful portrait. She's lucky to have you, as well as vice versa.

Posted by: Rana at September 20, 2004 10:26 AM
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breathtaking. you need say no more.

Posted by: Anne at September 21, 2004 09:39 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs