The Butterfly Nebula – 2 sketches from the Burns and Allen chapter

September 14, 2013

Beatrice materialized around 10:00 that evening. She sat with our child in a corner of the glass room, in the chair next to where I keep a reading table and lamp. The opposite corner of the glass room has a table and strong fluorescent light under which my star charts and notebooks were spread, but I use the more private, meditative corner to sit and think about stars, often in the dark. . . Beatrice shone in the ring of muted lamplight, reading a bedtime story to the boy or girl (the child’s gender kept changing, simulacra of sexual dimorphism) who’d just drifted off to sleep, a few tangled locks of silky hair skewed across his/her slightly flushed forehead. Beatrice was clothed in a dark green dress, her hair gathered up and held with a pearl clip. Our sleeping son or daughter made a faint wheezing snore as Beatrice tented the book “Goodnight Moon” on her lap then folded and placed it on the reading table, the black crystal panes in back of her head trapping her face in haloed reflection, a more insubstantial image within the waking-dream. Beatrice stroked the sleeping child’s dampened brow and gazed out into the night with a serene and enchanted look on her face, a moment of perfect sweet reverie. She then turned her head and smiled at me without saying a word, and the touch of her magnificent aura surpassed anything I would ever experience on Earth.
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Gladys habitually left the TV on in the den, and sometimes I would stop in this room on my way to bed and silence the silver-blue chatter, leaving Gladys in her unaccustomed place of darkness. Often the TV would show Tom Snyder interviewing noteworthy guests like Charles Manson or the Sex Pistols, or the inter-racial couple who had published a book years before about being abducted by aliens. And Gladys would be asleep on the sofa bed, shimmering in a wrapper of pale violet luminescence as if she’d been abducted and taken on the space ship . . .

Tonight I stared at the Burns and Allen rerun for a few minutes, laughed at some of the jokes and Gracie’s absurd monologues and non-sequitur, and I pondered how much America and the world had changed socially in the last 25 or 30 years and juxtaposed the brilliant joyous marriage of these two showbiz personalities with the sadness of my own and that of the prone snoring figure lying on the sofa, a disk of amber residue in a tumbler of emptied Southern Comfort carelessly positioned on the end table near her lolling head.

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