Tuesday, October 17, 2006

If there be water, / it is something falling.

Our last two days have been watery ones, putting the county back on flood watch. My house is a thing barely holding out the rain: I awoke in the night to the starting sound of one drop, another, one drop, another, somewhere not far enough from my ear: the ceiling, a second-floor ceiling corner formed in part by an exterior wall of the house, leaking in two places. A seep, a drop. Unstopping.

I studied my book of Amish quilts by lamplight while I got used to the sound of water striking the towel wadded at the bottom of the corner's new bucket: center square, diamond in the square, a four-patch, a nine-patch, bars, more bars. The colors of my younger book-gazing: this book of solid colors and shapes I read now is, at long last, my own copy of a book my mother has owned since it first came out. And yet, a confusion: in my memory, I read this book in the early 1980s: it is my primer for learning Amish quilts. But in reality, the book may not have come out until 1990. It is a sign of how late it's gotten that I am undone by this discrepancy. There must have been another primer for learning these quilts: perhaps a smaller book, paperbound, with a white cover? Perhaps some earlier catalog featuring some of the "Esprit" quilts (which have now made their way back to Lancaster, PA, together)? Only one of you reading will know the answer to these questions: what was I reading when we were still in Buffalo, when I was learning the beauty of those strong, simple patterns, those solid grounds for all the rich elaboration of stitched rounds and angles and sweeps and stops?

I acclimated to the slower rain in the corner of my bedroom, and the swifter stuff outside in the windy dark washed me back to sleep and to something like a fuller focus upon waking. Tomorrow perhaps I will seek to get to you all before I lose that focus again; it happens so much earlier some nights than I expect. I think that my brain has a harder time holding open a meditative space consistently this semester.

My title tonight comes from Cecily Parks's "Self-Portrait as Seismograph," up today at Poetry Daily.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was probably David Pottinger's Quilts of the Indiana Amish. I bought it on my way home from our house-visiting trip in October of '83 at the Commons Mall while you played on the red submarine. Most of those quilts are in the Indiana State Museum collection now.

7:01 AM, October 18, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Ach, that still doesn't sound right to me, somehow. I haven't thought about this memory for so long that it seems unlikely to me that I'm just making it up, but who knows. In the memory, you're working on the red and black and grey quilt that used to be on the rusty leather chair, and I'm poring over that book, going over and over the quilts I loved best in that book (which were, I think, diamond in the square quilts). And in my memory it's definitely taking place in the family room in Buffalo. If my brain is making this one up, it's a good and weirdly elaborate one.

8:49 AM, October 18, 2006  

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