Archive for the ‘The haunted lamp’ Category

bright and shiny

A lovely, stately creature.

When I first moved to Ohio I took no furniture. I was living in an old Queen Anne home, a beautiful victorian sweetly restored and maintained and furnished: a pretty white iron bed, a vanity with a mirror in the bedroom, wall paper in the bathroom, an old dining room table, an ancient roll-top desk.  There was even a butler’s pantry between the living room and the dining room, all wood and glass cabinets with some scrolled filigree bordering the top: a magical little place where I am certain the characters in the old fairy tales I housed in those cabinets came to life at night and dueled with icicles outside and trekked the snowy garden in winter,  shook the lilac trees on spring mornings before the sun rose. 

A butler's pantry is a small alcove between a kitchen and a dining room through which food, cooked in the kitchen, could pass through a butler and onto the table. Also: a place for magical things.

A butler’s pantry is a small alcove between a kitchen and a dining room through which food, cooked in the kitchen, could pass through a butler (and where all of the silverware and china would be close at hand) and then conveyed to the table. Also: a place for magical things.

Space I had, but there were a few small things I still needed : a bedside lamp, a stool to reach the high kitchen cabinets and to water the geraniums over the high leaded windows.  My mother was there to help settle me in and came back with the prettiest lamp one ever did see: cream colored porcelain, fleur-de-lis, a bit of gold tracery and a brass stand: delicate and a bit stately, elegant and oddly baroque, a mix between the bedroom of a young French princess and the parlour of an aging spinster. The hours we spent together! Reading books, reading manuscripts, reading books that would-be, have been and will-be published! Reading the magical tales of my classmates through long winter nights with the fields of corn, soybean and wheat flowing east, west, south beyond the ancient trees of the old town in the old doll-house of a mansion, a huge haunted lake to the north, and beyond that, another country. Tightly bundled beneath my flowered white duvet in my white iron bed I read and wrote and drew by the light of my pretty old lamp.

Bedtime Reading

She’s awake, reading…

Then I moved to the mountains. I took this lamp with me: I could never leave her behind. A few days after this move, I met my mountain boy. I found myself living among bears in an oddly furnished cabin-in-the-woods. I had an animal skin lampshade over an old black iron lamp there and so sent my old beauty home with him: a brand new loft in an century-old brick building with tall tall windows and hardwood floors – a much more fitting place for her than a log cabin with saltillo tiles and hand-loomed southwest rugs. She was not used to roughing it, did not particularly like mice scampering across her delicate feet. A place where electricity could be assured should please her, I thought.

And now we are reunited, living in the city with the tall windows all lit up with the colors of candles, in a bedroom with a huge wooden bed, piles of books and mounds of pillows. But something has happened to her: she remembers her old homes, the beautiful houses and bedrooms she has lived in before. When she remembers, she dreams, and when she dreams, she blinks and drifts and sighs.  A sleepy lamp, she will flutter on and off and on and off and sometimes, she simply falls asleep while I am reading, mid sentence, or mid footfall to the bed, mid dressing, mid brushing, mid pillow adjusting or mid sigh as I give up trying to rouse the sleeping beauty. She does not like to be awoken and will only flutter on for a few moments before resuming her repose. I cannot bear the thought of replacing her though she haunts us, waking and sleeping with flickers and shadows and dramatic darkness.

Blinking Off

She’s dreaming. I’m awake. She falls asleep so unpredictably.

What does a lamp dream of? Does she share my dreams, of bears and rivers and foxes? Does she dream of mansions and grandmothers and knitting, of French princesses with pink shoes waking in the night and turning her on for a midnight tryst? Does she dream of oil and wicks? Does she dream of the magical stories she has read over my shoulder before blinking, blinking, blinking off and illuminating those dreamed worlds instead? And she does sometime wake with a start, flooding the room with her amber musk of dreamed worlds… 

A haunting that time-travels and space-traverses liminality, she is the place between waking and sleeping. 


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