Even So

Sometimes the curved leg of a table looks like a snake to her, and the face of her grandmother’s antique clock looks like a woman. Pillows are heads, the silvery undersides of the rose bush outside her kitchen window are birds, shadows on the back lawn are animals. A young cat not fully grown is larger than any cat she has ever seen.

“Doesn’t it look that way to you?”

She expects me to say no. But what if I go along with her instead? What if I agree, and tell her the clock is a woman, and that the backyard is full of animals?

Yesterday, when my mother and I were admiring a picture my friend painted long ago at the age of seventeen just a year before he died, she said, “That must have been hard for Bill, to have his friend die like that.” When I reminded her that I am Bill, she smiled and said, “Even so.”

The painting is large, and occupies a prominent place in her living room above the TV that used to frighten her when she was still here alone, because the people on the screen would sometimes talk to her and refuse to leave.

“He seems like one of the family.”

This time I do agree, because it is true, and because the tear in the old man’s eye could well be my own.

June 5, 2006

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