A Songbird on the Wing
I had said to Linda: “Once I finish this story, I can die.” To which she remarked: “Or, then you can paint the second half of your life.”
We had been talking by phone around the time I was writing about her. It was getting out of hand. I was taking too much of her in. My circling her persona around the images I made in my paintings of four decades before was too intensely entrapping the blithe person with an idealized gloss. I was gilding the wood lily. How could she breathe!
But the corresponding good in the present person’s incarnation seems admirable for the sterling optimism of her refreshing song. Like the sparrows speaking to Giotto’s Saint Francis, Linda is a chirping bird on playful wings, happily hopping upwards on branches above and telling me of wonders in the neighboring meadow and further out beyond.
Haunted by the mystery of what might be awaiting, the exaltation of fresher breezes takes her scouting out new territory, a petrel over the water. She comes back with yarns entwined with sea detritus- enthusiasms that she unwinds for my benefit. I laugh to myself over her treasures, and best, I get to stay and hear them in the comfortable solitude of my studio. I’m not keen on seafaring; though in my mind I like the wind blowing over me as if I were standing on a bluff looking out to sea.
How did this airy Nereid become the grounding harbor for a matriarchate full blown with daughters whose names I still can’t remember. Fastidious in her role of grandmother and chagrined by the nuisance of it, Linda is happy to get back to her studio, engrossed in the flight unfolding. Before her in some distance her destiny awaits. She’s very lucky.
She’s skeptical of my being too focused on her. I tell her it’s the fault of the writing (the memories of a sumptuous romanticism fuses with the practical goodwill I hear from four hundred miles away); it will pass. We back away from each other for the summer. The calls stop for a while, but not before I tell her: “I don’t want you in real life. It’s just that I adore you more than ever.”