What is Seized

The rooms in our house were like songs.  Each had its own rhythmic spacing and clutter, which if you crossed your eyes became a sort of musical notation, a score–clusters of eighth notes, piles of triplets, and the wooden roundness of doorways, like clefs, all blending in a kind of concerto.  Or sometimes, as with the bathroom, with its motif of daisies and red plastic, they created a sort of jingle, something small, likable, functional.  It was the bookcase in the living room that seemed particularly symphonic, the books all friendly with one another, a huge chorus of them in a hum; they stood packed behind glass doors with loose metal knobs.  My mother also kept photo albums, scrapbooks, yearbooks on the bottom shelf of the case, along with the big, heavy books like Smith’s World History and the Golden Treasury of Children’s Stories. In one book she had black and white pictures of herself, starting from when she was little.  Gray, empty days I would take that book out and look at it.  By the time I was nine, I knew all the pictures by heart.  To stare at them, to know those glimpses, I felt, was to know her, to become her, to make my mother a woman with adventures, a woman in a story, a book, a movie.  The photos somehow seemed powerful.  Sometimes I still look at them, with a cup of coffee, with the television on.

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