Sunday, September 12, 2010
My boys rarely get new toys. B's trike came from the dump, as you may have guessed from the duct tape on the handle bars and general air of discard. B has never commented on its lack of shine, the way the seat tips all of a sudden despite any amount of bolt tightening, the independence of the handlebars from the front wheel. "I ride my trike!" he asks, so politely, and then someone has to push him around the driveway risking various appendages until the eager red trike can't quite meet its goal of benign usefulness and B falls off in a heap while the poor soul pushing rubs her shin where the sharp back step made fateful contact. B laughs. I pretend to laugh and mutter swears under my breath. "I ride my trike!" B asks again, and off we go. B's red trike reminds me of the red trike I had when I was a kid. I don't think mine came from the dump. I remember riding it in the old barn while wearing too-big tap shoes. Someone once told me if I ever walked in an oil patch I'd never be able to swim again, so I avoided those, even with tap-shoe protection, even though those stains came from cars long since traded in for newer models. Just me and my red trike, travelling miles on the same patch of cement floor. Someday B will be able to provide his own motor and my job as pusher will be done. My shins will be grateful for the reprieve, but for now, I'm glad to share these miles.
When I close my eyes I can conjure up her image; walking from building to building, the green hills her backdrop, or standing on stage reciting her poetry, the black curtains streaming behind. Through it all she wears the the red coat that shapes and defines her. There are also red earrings, red skirts and often a red shirt-- it is obviously her color of choice. The words she reads are exhilarating, the lines of verse practically lifting me out of my seat. The color and sounds of this young woman are what remains in my head weeks after I have returned home from school. Seeing her there reminded me of the cover of a recent booksale find.“Girl in a Red Dress Reading by the Swimming Pool” is the cover image for The Penguin Book of Modern Short Stories. I wonder if the book jacket designers had chosen something by Picasso in his Blue period, would I still have felt compelled to pick up the book and read these stories? I have never been able to wear red in that same way as these two women, instead I have relegated this vibrant hue to shoes, scarves, jewelry and other accessories. Perhaps these accents serve the same dynamic purpose, an edge or a border to my own persona. I find that red has the power to define and divide, drawing your eye as a magnetic compass points north. It is the only color of choice for my varied sizes of notebooks,which are always open and available to receive my own scrawl. Passionate words flowing from pen to the page.