This photograph, taken by Tammy Ho in Venice in 2013, is titled “Caption”.
I recently visited my childhood home, shown here, looking far better than I fondly remember it. The new owners have worked wonders with it! But I see the painting of my dear departed mother still hangs on the wall where we left it when my brothers and I fled the alien invasion of 1968. No, not the callipygous one on the right; that was our governess, whose real name I misremember; we called her Jane, you know, as in Jane Eyre. No, the middle portrait is the one of Mom, in her yellow party dress. How happy she looks there! How I wish I could rub those pink shoulders again, or rush into those raised arms for a hug. And, you know, maybe I can. I never give up hoping that they’ll bring her back one day, that she’s still alive, perhaps even rejuvenated and reinvigorated, looking half her hundred and twenty years, perhaps even three-eighths. That would make her, what, forty-four? Forty-five? Somewhere in there. I remember my father saying that a forty-four-year-old woman could look pretty good. How I laughed! What a great sense of humor he had, my old dad. Somewhere up there he has them in stitches, I’m sure. If they have a sense of humor. If they even know how to sew. It’s impossible to tell. We thought it was snowing. Foh! How utterly, utterly wrong we were. Pathetic. Snowflakes! Ordinary white snowflakes, each one unique. Little did we know just how unique they were, the superior intelligence those little flakes brought with them, and what precious treasures they would take from us. Millions of them. Perhaps billions, parachuting down from their cloud-shaped ship in the heavens. Snow in equatorial Africa! We had seen snow on the TV, we knew what it was. We were excited. We imagined ourselves sledding, building snowmen, having snowball fights. We imagined the cold wetness on our bare hands, down our shirts, in our shoes. Ah, those were the days, all right! Those were the days.
Douglas Robinson is Chair Professor of English and Dean of the Arts Faculty. [Click here to read all entries by Douglas.]