Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Tricky In Our Garden, in a dream. Picture; Daphne Buter.
THE TUNE OF THE NIGHTINGALE
Last night Tricky heard a nightingale and she woke me up to listen to the bird.
"He sings beautifully," I said.
"He isn't singing, but crying," Tricky said. "Don't you hear it?"
Now it is morning and I lay in my bed and I listen to my neighbors. My neighbor's voices know how to penetrate a wall. Maybe my ears are the problem; maybe my ears know how to suck unreal sounds through a wall or a window. Only God knows what the truth is. If God exists, truth exists. Life is not what it seems.
"Shall I take the river Styx?" I hear my neighbor Harry say.
"Please do it right away," his wife answers.
My youngest one is a smart little girl. We all have to watch out for her. Seven years ago we named her Gentle, but God knows why we called her Tricky two years later. Last week she asked me what color my sweater was. It was pink.
"It is pink," I said. "You know it is pink, Tricky."
She grinned, walked over to the wall, stood at the tip of her little toes and switched off the light. We were surrounded by darkness. My little girl seemed to have disappeared. I had vanished, too. Only the sounds we made were still there.
"What color is your sweater?" Tricky repeated.
Just now I did all the things I had to do. I woke up. I'd put my feet on the floor of the bedroom. I walked to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I took a shower. I brushed my teeth. I did all these things because I had to start my day with something. If I hadn't done these things I would have fallen back to sleep. I would have dreamed about something complicated. I would have dreamed about Tricky.
I lay on a stretcher in our garden. The sun is out and blinds me. What shall I write about today? Shall I write about the sun? The sun is not there - it is a star that we named sun. A star is shining in the garden. Between that star and me a lot of things happen. Clouds raise and disappear. The sky around the star is cerulean. Actually, the blue sky I can see is not around the star, but under it, and it isn't cerulean. Tricky told me the sky isn't. I suppose she'd read Nietzsche while I was asleep one night. "Listen," she said, "listen, the light of the star makes you believe the sky is cerulean, but the sky isn't."
I start to bite my nails. I see the face of Tricky on the brink of my mind's eye. A little blonde human being. Her face has so much expression she looks more convincing than God. Her legs are so skinny they make every dog smile arrogant if we go for a walk to the park. Her legs are full of blue spots because she keeps falling from trees.
"What is a skeleton?" Tricky asked me the other day.
"It is the remains of a creature that died," I answered.
"Wrong! Under my skin lives my skeleton," Tricky said.
"If I ask myself where I am, I am only in my head," she said some time ago.
Maybe I don't lay on a stretcher in our garden. Thinking about it, I don't lay on a stretcher in our garden. I am in my head. Tricky explained to me how I should look at things. In this case, it isn't our garden to begin with. It is just a small piece of land we named a garden. And then, one day, we bought this house for a lot of debts and that is why we call it our garden. "Is it our garden?" she asked. "If it is our garden, for how long will it be our garden?"
"You were dead for centuries, now you are alive for just a short time. Soon you will be dead forever," Tricky said one day. "When you are dead forever, can I have your PC?"
Just now Tricky came out a building we named school and she walked to a house we named home, and now she walks into a garden we call our garden. Tricky looks so small she makes me feel like a giant. Maybe I am a giant.
Here, outside the house, Tricky cannot turn out the light. No one can turn out a star named the sun. Tricky isn't God. I've got her. This time she cannot win the battle.
"What color is my sweater," I ask.
"No one can answer that question."
"Come on, Tricky, what color is my sweater?"
"I think you believe it is pink."
"Well, isn't it pink?"
"Only if God exists, it is. Does God exist?"
"Well, a lot of people believe God exists."
"God exists only in their heads."
I lay on a stretcher in a garden. A star is out and blinds me. The sky has no color. I believe I wear a pink sweater. I really believe I wear a pink sweater. If God exists, no matter if it is a he or a she, it knows I am crying on the inside of my being.
Tricky wears a translucent dress. In the light outside I would swear the dress is pink as a marshmallow. Tricky is collecting bugs. She knows where to find them. Under stones and on leafs, or dangling in the wind. Her little fingers grab the insects and put them in little containers. She runs through the garden like a pink whirlwind. She is so busy it would touch the devil's heart.
Tricky has thousands of insects incarcerated. The bugs are red, yellow, golden, green, and metallic with stripes… She never hurts them. She takes them to the attic and looks at them through her microscope. After a day or so she throws them back in a garden, under a colorless sky, if a star is out to change the world into a paradise of colors, buzzing insects, odors and birds.
"Have a good time," she says with a voice sweet as candy, to the bugs. "Let a bird-beak eat you. You don't mind, don't you? You are too simple to realize you are a living dead thing. No one will miss you when you are gone. We're all just food for each other."
God help me. I am here. I lay on a stretcher in our garden. Last night I heard a nightingale chant. I am sure it wasn't crying. Above me the sky is blue as an ocean on a postcard from Greece.
"Shall I take the river Styx?" my neighbor Harry asked this morning.
"Please do it right away," his wife answered.
Only God knows or I heard it right. If God exists, truth exists. If God exists, I wear a pink sweater. Tricky is more convincing than God. We all are nothing but food for future generations of bugs. I am dying here, I'm dying. I am a dead living thing. That star in that colorless sky above me is scorching me. I start to sweat.
I put my hand as a cap above my eyes and look at that little pink butterfly over there, that pink whirlwind who is collecting bugs in a garden.
"Tricky," I say, "Tricky, do you love me?"
Tricky runs rapidly like she is haunted by a lion. "Your voice reminds me of the tune of that nightingale we heard last night," she answers.
"God knows I love you, Tricky," I say. "Would you miss me if I was dead?"
My heart is pounding fanatically. Tricky stops running and looks at my face. She lets her arms hang down. She is out of breath. Bugs crawl from her little hands to her elbows, further upwards. Red bugs, yellow bugs, golden beetles, green ones, metallic ones with stripes... I see them vanish in the puffy sleeves of her pink dress, ready to eat her. She angles her head, and smiles at me, forlornly. Her big brown eyes remind me of the hearts of sunflowers. Her skinny legs look like brushwood under her fluttering lucid dress. When she says, "What kind of question is that?" she never looked this tiny before.
The Tune Of The Nightingale was published by Dicey Brown last fall.