My daughter at eight: What would happen if you die? I tell her she would be very sad but everyone would take such good care of her, and she says No, they wouldn’t. Because I would be dead too, of sadness. My son at four shuffles out of the bedroom in his first pair of flip-flops, having put them on himself with the strap between his second and third toes. It’s fine, mama, don’t worry, they don’t hurt, I can walk. My grandmother, flustered and red-faced in the small kitchen where she’s trying to make dinner for me: Oh Alison, I’m just no use at all anymore. Me outwardly protesting but inwardly stricken by the knowledge that in that single instant, everything is now changed.
“Because living is just too much!” I always say when someone in an audience asks why I became a writer. “It’s all too hard! I’d lose my mind if I didn’t turn it into books!”
I laugh and they laugh, but do they know I’m not joking? Writing makes it possible for me to live in a world without my grandmother in it, a world where my heart beats outside my body in the form of my children, where every new day brings a thousand possibilities and a thousand losses. Writing is my way of cheating time.
The Mystical Rose, by Adelia Prado
The first time
I became conscious of form,
I said to my mother:
“Dona Armanda has a basket in her kitchen
where she keeps tomatoes and onions”
and began fretting that even lovely things
until one day I wrote:
“It was here in this room that my father died,
here that he wound the clock
and rested his elbows
on what he thought was the windowsill
but was the threshold of death.”
I understood that words grouped like that
made it possible to live without
the things they describe,
that my father was returning, indestructible.
It was as if someone had painted a picture
of Dona Armanda’s basket and said:
“Now you can eat the fruit.”
So, there is order in the world!
—where does it come from?
And why does order, which is joy itself,
and bathes in a different light
than the light of day,
make the soul sad?
We must protect the world from time’s corrosion,
cheat time itself.
And so I kept writing: “My father died in this room…
Night, you can come on down,
your blackness can’t erase this memory.”
That was my first poem.
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