Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Obsidian

This morning I opened a kitchen cupboard
and tucked the bag clips
into their holder on the inside of the door.
I paused and smiled to myself.
Open cupboard,
put things away,
close cupobard.
The motions become
like a well worn groove
a path of where we've been.
Little things like opening that cupboard
- the one we call the tall cupboard -
and putting away the oven mitts, the bag clips,
getting out the broom.
The way one has to give the door that extra shove
to make it click shut.

When my parents and sister were here the summer before last,
they stayed in our home while we were away.
Afterwards my sister told me about a family she knew
who, when visiting far off relatives,
would go into their kitchen looking for something,
asking themselves,
"Now where would (someone with our last name) put that?"
And invariably they'd be drawn to the right cupboard door.
"Because any fool (with our last name) would put it there."
My sister laughed as she told me this
because she had gone into my kitchen,
wondering where I kept the tea,
and opened the right cupboard on her first try.

Sometimes I think about the drawer
just to the right of the sink,
in my childhood home.
Cradled with bits of string and bread clips
and guarded by worn out household scissors,
lay my mom's rock collection.
Big rocks.

One day she held a heavy black rock in her hands
and told me it was called "Obsidian".
I'd never heard that word before.
Haven't heard it since.
I liked how it sounded.
Sometimes still, I roll words around in my mouth
like I'm savouring a sip of wine,
just because the way they sound pleases me.
I smile when I catch myself doing that
because words
are the only thing I've ever sipped in my life.

Reminds me of my favourite quote about words by Eudora Welty:

"There comes the moment, and I saw it then, when the moon goes from flat to round. For the first time it met my eyes as a globe. The word "moon" came into my mouth as though fed to me out of a silver spoon. Held in my mouth the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Grandpa took off his vine and gave to me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio."


I opened that drawer in my mother's house
the last time I was home.
No bits of string.
No scissors.
No Obsidian.

This past summer I visited with a woman
who lost a lifetime of
strings and bread clips and scissors,
in a house fire a few years ago.
Recently people had been coming to visit her
in her brand new house, and commenting
how much she must like it.

She mentioned several of our mutual friends,
who share her decorating style,
and how she visits them and sees something
in their house
that she used to have
and how she misses it.
Then she said that she even missed the contents
of the junk drawer in her kitchen.
Wistfully she said that everyone needed a junk drawer.
Her eyes then got a far away look,
as if she was opening that drawer again
and remembering.

9 comments:

Black Pete said...

Obsidian, aka "Apache Tears" (a racist, horrible name), is a beautiful, smoky, mysterious glass. It can shatter, its edges as sharp as razors and was once used as spear points, arrowheads and cutting tools.

I keep a piece near my word processor; it's talismanic for me. Something I am drawn to for reasons I can't articulate.

And yes, a wondrous word to shape and release from one's mouth.

PS: You might look up Rachel Barenblat's poetry on her Velveteen Rabbi blog, the one especially about Adam naming everything, and how wonderful it felt to say those words...

Steve E. said...

"Obsidian"...one I found today "attenuate"...I also find a pleasure in worts. maybe that is why I'm SO latching on to poetry these weeks. I hope this love of words stays in me...

Fine post, thank you.
PEACE, Hope!

enchantedoak said...

Hope,
This was sweet. I'd send you a sliver of obsidian if I could through the www. You made me laugh with your memories of Mom's rock collection. I have one too. And a cupboard door that needs that extra push, just like yours.
Chris A

Harlem's A Hatin said...

I think we all have cupboard doors like this!

http://harlemshaterade.blogspot.com

Jim said...

"Obsidian" - one of those words I know I've heard before, but which escapes any image I mentally hold - so I went googling and into my favorite dictionary, learning it is volcanic rock and that the roots of its meaning simply refer to "the stone of Obsius" presumed to be its discoverer. I prefer, though, Black Pete's aka of Apache tears, enjoyed this whole post, am reminded of a poem read at my brother's funeral on how we "do not lose someone all at once", but rather find them again and again in small encounters as we go, the bits and pieces of who they were yet with us in the journey.

The "esp" with locating things, however, must be feminine in origin, my wife constantly moving things around and finding me void of intelligence when I don't have any clue about the change in positioning.....

Becky Smith said...

What a beautiful blog and what a poignant writer you are. Absolutely LOVE the name of your blog and will be back to visit again soon.

Becky

daisymarie said...

Wow. This was such a moving piece, powerful and emotive. It engaged my senses like nothing I've read for a while.

Daisy said...

We had a junk drawer to the right of the sink when I was a kid, too. Fun to explore, eh? We used to forage through that drawer looking for change to help buy macaroni when times were tough.

Mich

annie said...

Love this one, Hope!