For the Orphans

"Perhaps all unsheltered people are angry in their hearts, and would like to break the roof, spine, and ribs, and smash the windows and flood the floor and spindle the curtains and bloat the couch." -- Marilyn Robinson, Housekeeping

"Loneliness is an absolute discovery." --MR

Reading it out of context, the quote might seem more general, related to the dispossessed, the poor and the homeless. Which of course, it is. But this morning on the train, in the voice it is spoken, and in the reader, it was all family.

There are times, when I hear people speak about their families, their parents, their meals, their homes, their emails, their support, their lives -- when I want nothing more than to march up their porches (decorated, I imagine them, with the appropriate holidays dressings and cleared entirely of leaves) and split open their front doors. I want to flood their bathrooms and invite strangers into their kitchens, to eat from the cabinets and leave the drawers swung open, crumbs spread out.

I want to walk in on the domestic bliss (love, comfort, no abuse) and sit down amongst them like a troll. I want to run a slimy knarled finger over their cheeks and stain them with the generational residue that marks me. I want to empty their pockets and see if they still smile so brightly. I want to crack their flat flat tvs and chip all of their glasses and see if they are so perfect, so good, still.

I want to know the difference between other families and mine. I want to know if they have been pushed to hard or if they are just weak. I want to know if all those mothers who call on the phone, who send care packages to their grown children, who know the names of their friends and who counsel in times of need simply have all the leisure time in the world or if they are wonder-strong and as shiny as they seem. Who are these fathers with wide laps and big grins, who aw-shucks and chuck balls about the yard? Have you seen them?

It's not simply the lack of shelter I feel so intensley, but disbelief in roofs in general.

For reference: The Organization and Formation of Blizzards as Seen by Satellites: A-Z by Ander Monson (Indiana Review)


Blogger Shrew said...

I'm very moved by this, and empathize. Will reread Housekeeping as a result.

9:45 AM  

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