Notes on my mother


I had stopped writing about my mother for three years. She was, after all, my primary subject for that long. I figured that I had exhausted it. But then I found three negatives at the bottom of an old film binder. The binder was grey and it smelled of fixative and primer. I'm not exactly sure why of primer. They were tucked awkwardly into a plastic sleeve, each separated from one another, indicative of time or scanning prep. I pulled them out and held them up to the light. Two of the photographs were portraits, each with a spot of light directed onto her right eye. And the last was a close up of her forefinger and her thumb. The rim of her hand was lit as if it was a cliff in the Azores. Cliffs I've only heard about from a friend, and at one point seen a photograph of. He told me about them over a spaghetti dinner and smiled as he said, "you should visit." As if I would go alone. As if he would not be joining me. As if I would board a plane and fly eighteen hours to see one thing. I probably would. He said that it's the only place where World meshes with Man. I believe him when he tells me these things because he knows the scientific names of bugs, birds, amphibians, and some types of stone. He told me that the rock in the Azores integrates seamlessly with hundreds of man-made pools that are sprinkled throughout, each with their own shape depending on the shape of the rock. Each with their own entertainment e.g., to sit beside, to be a spectacle of waves cascading around you, to swim in, to look at from your car window, etc. How nice it sounded, I told him. A place where fabricated world meets the real world, and for once, they shake hands. It made me think about my mother, looking at the two portraits I took of her at a time when our relationship was ridged and you could fall off at any moment. Had we just made a pool, I thought to myself. And ideally, the kind you can swim in.