Suddenly the many-colored buildings, one of which she was sitting in, seemed real. She was grateful for cement, how it was poured and stayed. For the many appliers of paint, who knew what they did was important, though most others did not think so. For the care which was taken to preserve old ceilings. Ceiling tiles pressed from metals, tin, the mysterious floral swirls, the certain circles, trailing arabesques. Floors. Did anyone stop to think what a miracle a level floor was? Or of the miracles of reflections the floor held for seconds, then lost, as a person walked across? Dark boots, a sad, big, shuddering reflection. Heels making sharp clicks: women wearing them determined to make as little contact with the ground as possible.
She was grateful for the sky, too, trying to be a marble made of air: its powdery strewn streaks and swirls, telling you it didn’t matter what you would say or just had said. Those words would all fade into other words to be indifferently re-formed, recycled; and what you said had not possibly been that unique, anyway. All people copied other people. Yes, she was grateful for the sky, but she would not be completely happy with its blue and gray and white unless the white formed a falling rush like a waterfall leading to the restaurant, the building, in which she sat.
But no building, no floor, no sky would hold her hand and tell her she was finished with her project. A person had told her it was finished, but that was like hearing Walt Whitman’s home in Camden was finished, though it would only go on being old, and there must be missing parts, long gone, particular dishes he had breakfast with or a favorite shirt, which could have been hung on the back of an old door to dry; like hearing the Brontes’ house in England had the perfect quiet heater now, less to distract the modern viewers. All furnaces would be wrong: what was missing was their voices, as they rushed around the dining room table late at night, making loops, after dinner, in winter, the sisters, their nervous, cooped-up game. Their emulation of planets, circling the sun? Their seance for their dead mother? Their euphoria on a winter’s night.
Finished? How? How long till Thomas Wolfe’s mother was finished cooking biscuits for the boarders, his father done carving stone for headstones? Till the buses came and the cars and the lakefront buildings with air conditioning, making porches with their columns Grecian and pompous-looking and the staging area for too much rot and mildew. Till she found the perfect dark maroon skirt, a thick fabric, and a sash, a dark turtleneck and a layering of necklaces so heavy she felt them like a dangled upper chest plate of ancient Egyptian protection. Till her face became something candles loved. Till she stacked the wooden square boxes she had been sent, stacked them in front of an old window with wobbly, watery-looking glass, water that had fled into the cold of gone-memories.
Rebecca Pyle, as a poet, has been published by The Honest Ulsterman, Cobalt Review, The Penn Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Die Leere Mitte, Underwater New York, and Otis Nebula. She is also published as a fiction writer, most recently in Eclectica, Pangyrus, Hong Kong Review, Posit, Guesthouse, and as a writer of essays in Litro (U.K. and U.S. editions), Festival Review, and Grist. She is a visual artist, too, whose artwork is published widely in art/literary journals or on their covers. Her writing awards include being shortlisted for The Penn Review's annual poetry prize, nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize, and, most recently, receiving Miracle Monocle's 2022 Award for Innovative Writing. Rebecca lives in a small brick house, in Utah, in the foothills of the Wasatch Range.