Strange Things I have Encountered
For my contribution to the column this month, I am including a lyric essay I wrote recently. I'm printing it here because it explores how having a parent wiht a psychotic illness infused a sense of strangeness and also a peculiar kind of beauty into my understanding of the whole world.
-- Marin Sardy
Strange Things I Have Encountered
The pattern I saw as a small child when I closed my eyes: concentric ovals in purple, red and electric blue, with oval rings vibrating around a few dots in the center, which vibrated too.
The sound of my mother sitting on a sofa in our quite house late in the evening, rhythmically grinding her teeth.
A halibut's migrating eye after it has worked its way around to the other side of its head, where it is not quite aligned with the rest of its face.
The ash that fell from the sky and coated Anchorage in gray dust, a few days after Mount St. Augustine erupted. It was a quiet winter, but it made you feel uncomfortable and bleak when you looked outside.
The map of the work that my brother hung upside down on his bedroom wall. "There's no up or down in space,' he said.
The note I found on my mother's desk, written by an administrator for the British Royal Family, thanking her of ruer letter but assuring her that she was not the Duchess of Kent.
Once I caught a high fever and spend a day talking to the walls, which bowed outward from the corners of the room.
A lochen-covered human skull lying in a weathered coffin on an expanse of tundra. It had been pushed up out of the frozen ground.
The balls of aluminum foil that my mother wadded onto the ends of our television antennae to protect us from radiation. That she would decide that foil could solve the problem, but not say, rubber or Styrofoam.
A spider called a scorpion eater.
A young woman in Morocco with a tattoo on her face in the design of her tribe. When I asked her, with gestures, how it had been done, she pulled a safety pun out of a drawer and held it up.
The fancy plate of Asian glass noodles that my brother ordered at a restaurant in Hawaii. When it came, my mother said it looked like works and wouldn't let him eat it. They argued about it for ten minutes before she made the waiter take the noodles back.
The crowd watching a parade that you are in. As you walk along, it feels like they're the parade.
A homeless man in Santa Fe who had a rat he had trained to lie on top of a cat, which calmly curled up on top of a dog. They would remain that way for hours. The man said he was spreading the message of world peace.
For a while my mother wore bandanas over her face, bandit-style, every time she was in the kitchen. The practice evolved to include a second bandana over her forehead, so only her eyes showed.
First Posted Friday, November 4th, 2011