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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Is It the First Day or the Third Day?

Yesterday the “block out” shades were installed in the bedroom. They are white and have a clean look. Black and white photos hang on the walls, a gallery of sorts.  Black and white bed clothing covers the new king size bed,” memory foam.” White is my staple. And now black like the ink I use in my fountain pen which constantly stains my fingers. Everyone tells me, you will sleep better if you block out the light from the street lamp. I listened and ordered the shades. I did a test run as soon as it became dark. Turned off all the lights, shut the bedroom door. I couldn’t see a thing. Could not see the edge of the dresser, the way to the bathroom. Uncomfortable, I quickly turned on the lights and left the room. When I returned for the night, I settled in with my new magazine, read for a while and turned out the light. Immediately, I felt the intensity of the interior. A seperatness from the outside: weather, spring foliage and blossoms, even air. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes. Let the weight of the covers comfort me. But then when I woke in the middle of the night I was lost without the usual light. Disoriented. For an instant I didn’t know where I was. Then I remembered the shades. I heard Gaston Bachelard, ” Outside and inside form a dialectic of division.” Only last week I turned to Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space when preparing for a poetry lecture regarding place. He writes, ‘This side’ and ‘beyond’ are faint repetitions of the dialetics of inside and outside: everything takes form, even infinity. A strangeness took hold, unfamiliar with the familiar.

Everyone who knows me knows that while I am okay with aloneness, I often have difficulty with distances from loved ones. Already my husband’s absence while attending a conference in Denver affected my appetite. And I always struggle with children and grandchildren living across the country. And now this adjustment to the absence of light, my  intense sense of seperation from the expanse of the exterior, the closeness of inside.

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