Elizabeth Alexander has written a memoir about her husband who died, rather young, Ficre Ghebreyesus, the painter and restauranteur. Alexander, a poet, has written a book that I'm finding hard to leave. I'm telling everyone I see to the read the book. Please read the book. Her prose is beautiful, succinct, aching. You can sample some of it here.
|Ficre Ghebreyesus, self-portrait|
I don't like waking up alone. The dogs are beginning to irritate me in the night, with their constant scuffling, circling, nesting, snoring, farting, repositioning, as I struggle with my sleep. I want a deep sleep again. Alexander quotes Senghor (see below; beautiful, isn't it?)
"I miss a nice, warm body in my bed" I said to my ex-husband this week, as you do. Not because I missed him (of course I do, a little). Not to be provocative. But to tell the truth. Our wedding anniversary is June 11. It will be 27 years. And, as we are not yet divorced, I can tell people that. It's his form I miss most. The sleeping, sometimes snoring, rather sweet, soft man lying next to me. The smell I know so well, the way our bodies know where to be when we spoon.
A friend I've known for a few years, a friend who knows my secrets, even the most miserable, snotty, hideous ones, has recently started to sleep in my bed occasionally, although I could see it becoming habit-forming. He smells of sandalwood and now wherever I go I smell that smell and feel sleepy and happy. He sleeps in the zen manner, not allowing in any of the outside scuffles, acknowledging them perhaps, and then letting them go. His sleep won't be interrupted. He holds my hands or rests his arm on my leg and breathes gently, evenly. The smallest dog, the wanton hussy, nestles close to his ankles and licks them languidly. He smiles in his sleep. We drink tea in the morning and laugh. But it's summer. Perhaps these things are okay in the summer. Pretending that the man in the bed is there to help with insomnia. Wearing dresses and bare legs. Thinking about the sea. Filling the house with flowers. Eating outside at night at every opportunity. Wanting everything to be pink and blue and yellow and orange and turquoise.
This evaporates my crazy. For now.