In the 50’s into the 60’s paint-by-numbers kits were in. In a box one found tubes of pre-selected colors, brushes, cubic glass bottles of thinner, a canvas stretched onto a wooden frame. The canvas was pre-inscribed in concentric blue lines like those on a geodesic map, with numbered sections that, once filled in, would reproduce The Blue Boy, A Sad Clown, Autumn’s Colors, and the like. It was vulgar, I knew that it was, even as a child, but it was fun, so who cares?, and I was reminded of those kits tonight when I finally had a moment or two to clear out the boxes along the bookshelves in the living room in this house that is both a new house and a house I lived in long ago, and suddenly the kitchen gained a new, freshly black-and-white dimension when I exposed the Vermeer floor. Echo first, then Mink, then Apple, then Pearl came down the powerline. The river dogs are silent names. That’s how the experience of being here is turning out to be; a tiny section at a time is growing smaller, evoking particles of the past and opening out into orbits of the future all at once. Things are going faster. Sometimes, in the midst of not knowing who I is or am, I find a moment that is blissful. I walk the pig around the perimeter, I turn on the lamps at dusk, I step out onto the deck and my hand as I raise it seems familiar, as the tree line does, even now, beyond the hill.
I sat on the porch hearing the wind and looked west-southwest and the rain was moving so rapidly I saw it come from the clouds and across the trees and into the vegetable garden that truly became a vegetable garden only just today when you looked at it, a sheet or wave of rain, all in much less than a minute, and then it hit the roof and I sat down and listened to it for a long time. I sat listening a long time to the rain making the grass and the branches nod and flatten, and I thought about how much you love the rain and the sound of it, and how last fall when the rains came winter had already settled on your heart. Some times we are only what we think, but sitting listening to the rain in a green chair wishing you were in the other one is different. You make a great deal of difference by not being there. The pictures you took are the garden I made for you. If only anything were as good as a single taste of this. I wished you were in the other green chair by the screen, where the droplets were gathering in the tiny squares of gray light and becoming lenses too small for my eye to recognize, so that you could hear it too.
Theodore Worozbyt is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama and Georgia Arts Councils. His books are The Dauber Wings, Letters of Transit, and Smaller Than Death. He teaches at Georgia State University.