Sunday, August 23, 2009

I am using this place, undefined and yet in my hands, to archives these precious images that my niece, Robin, so kindly sent me after my brother's death. I will add images of him to the moment when I wrote of his death. These moments here had been lost to me, particularly the images of Regina, my mother, the woman in blue and green shift, the woman with a Chesterfield cigarette always in her hand, the woman who became a grandmother for Robin and Lisa, the first conventional domestic role I have ever seen her in. These images were taken in New Jersey home of my brother and his first wife, Carol, where Lisa was born. Lisa, who know is so ill and who still has hope in her eyes in the first picture with dear Robin, my final connection to family memory. The year is perhaps 1964--Robin will have to help me here--I am in my work clothes, the brown suit, my fem self so clear, a young woman I never had seen myself to be, always believing I was graceless. But it is the red, white lined swim suit that brings back the taste of a kiss, of a young fem's desire in the sun. That is the exact bathing suit I was wearing in the black and white photograph that is in the archives in Brooklyn, taken on the gay working class beach of Riis Park in circa 1960 where Carol Lipman and I kissed in the Brooklyn sun, held each other in the gentle surf along with all the other gay women and men occupying their known and harassed part of the Brooklyn shore, police and bashers in the waiting. That red two piece suit cheap and long lasting so simple a flag of pleasure, of desire, unafraid but knowing and my mother's legs and feet, her bunyioned toes reaching towards my so then unmarked body, my mother's body that I always remember clothed for work, for her battle in the man's world of the garment industry, her too tight shoes, her small body armored in girdle and full line bra, her body, all prepared to "earn a living" as she said so many times between puffs of smoke and bouts of Scotch. Here I see her reclining, her dress hitched up so air and light can touch her, her daughter at her feet, her daughter who so often and for so many years fled her body, her chaos, her loneliness. Now my niece, Robin, the survivor of so much, puts us back in the same frame. I think of Colette whom I am rereading and these images as working class Jewish fractured family sensuality, Colette's so loved Riviera mountains and sea replaced by a grubby New Jersey back yard, the sea by a child's cheap wading tube, but the bodies of mother and daughter, and the writing that would come from the opening up of want in dangerous places. Regina, her hair carefully done, her one extravagance, given back to me, so small, so real, so worn, now so dear as I almost 70 try to understand where bodies go.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Joan, this is both beatuful and heartbreaking...Thanks so much for keeping on with your writing, pictures and postings. xo, Steph