Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Samhain Triumvirate

My 5th Grade Art Project ~ Halloween 1967

"Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!"

~ Elizabeth Akers Allen ~

I was so pleased to re - discover this 50 - year - old (!) painting over the summer, rolled up in a closet at my parents' house. My friend Len humorously pointed out that perhaps it survived because "Somehow you knew as a child to always use acid-free archival paper, inks, and glues for all of your projects." On a serious note, my oldest brother Dave pointed out that "Interestingly your only concession to Halloween is the pumpkin in the lower right" and my own children were wondering why on earth their mom used to be such a morbid kid! What about candy, costumes, and jack - o - lanterns? I guess even at age 10, I intuited a sense of foreboding as the year wound itself down.

For a couple of months now, I have been haunted by Len's direful pre - seasonal warning:
"Two days ago I acknowledged the end of summer; Fall, with its ominous name, has been looming and lurking. With our backs turned, with our eyes fixed on new books, in the delusion of days without meetings or grading papers, suddenly the Fall leaps out and can't be shaken off any more. I posted the syllabuses to my course site. The books for my 'Representations of Exile' class are stacked on my desk (this time Conrad, Danticat, Cristina Garcia, Nabokov, Sebald, and Viet Thanh Nguyen). For the rest of the night: free reading."
Len's ode to Fall (ominous yet seductive) reminded me of many a paragraph in The Street of Crocodiles, eerie and lyrical. For example:
"Oh the skies of those days, skies of luminous signals and meteors, covered by the calculations of astronomers, copied a thousand times, numbered, marked with the watermarks of algebra! With faces blue from the glory of those nights, we wandered through space pulsating from the explosions of distant suns, in a sidereal brightness . . . The houses, wide open at night during that time, remained empty in the light of violently flickering lamps. The curtains blew out far into the night and the rows of rooms stood in an all - embracing, incessant draft, which shot through them in violent, relentless alarm." (Bruno Schulz, 155 - 56)
If the approaching autumn season seems too sinister, I find that a little lace -- black or white or some of each -- helps to soften the worrisome edges. For over twenty - years now, a delicate lace ghost has appeared to gently haunt us in honor of the previous residents of our various historical homes. Every year, as the October light works its magic, my mother and my friend Victoria never fail to inquire, "Is the ghost up yet?" My sweet sister Di had some kind words for this year's emanation: "That is the fanciest ghost I have ever seen. When I get home I will dig out my tablecloths and see what I can do!"


Black Cat ~ Black Lace