Zuihitsu: text that drifts like a cloud

Photo by Rodean Kutsaev on Unsplash

Outside the window the sky a fast-changing sequence of cloud, dark and light, and bright, blue sky. The wind swishes the tall underwater grasses of bare trees; a sparrow hawk lands in my garden, huddles on a fig arm, lifts off.

Last night before the storm, my daughter left her sick bed to lie on the sofa next to me. She put her bare feet in my lap, and I caught them, held them. I love Queer Eye she said, her cheeks red from fever.

We watched the five fairy godfathermothers go to a public school in Austin Texas where students learn electrical engineering, cosmology, filmmaking, kindness. Teenage immigrants, on free school meals and in this episode, the Prom committee get the full treatment: a magical ball, Cinderella frocks, makeovers, a lesson in cooking cornflour taquitos from the dazzling Anthony.

You can tell the grown men are scared: high school, who would ever go back there? Then my daughter and I watch some sweet 17 year-old hearts flower. “Maybe America will be okay!” Jonathan cries, in his green sequin dress and high heeled sneakers.

In the New York Times a headline: Balm for Your Apocalyptic Anxiety.

A writer recounts her teenage daughter at the table under Covid five years into Trumpianism with the fires and floods. She shouts: “We’re all going to die!” And the mother historian replies, “no, it’s not the end, only a change,” and later, repeats this to herself — because? Why?

She’s researched a sack full of talismans given from a slave mother to her 9 year old child, parted in the last ten years of 250 of terror — a sack to travel on into the unknown. You can see it, she writes, today, in the museum: on the wall like a soft flag at dawn.

To believe in the future look to the past, the historian shares her hope, last biscuit in a starving camp.

The wind scours the house.

A black plastic bag flies up into the sky like a crow. It flips like a dead fish, round and around.

We have spent the last two years waiting for an invisible war to come to an end. We are still here at the window, going nowhere, looking out.

My daughter says: none of us expects to live beyond 40.

The house shakes. A leaf flies across the glass, catches on a branch, tumbles on past where I can see it.

(Today our Writing in the Dark was inspired by Zuihitsu; you can read more about it here, writer Kimiko Hahn and the Pillow Book. Thank you, Julia Redei for your prompt and the reading).

Photo by Mariah Hewines on Unsplash

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A place for pieces grown in the petri dish of WITD

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Catherine T Davidson

Catherine T Davidson

Writer, teacher, immigrant. Angeleno in London. Connecting through the world of words one reader at a time.

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