Someone in need of Resuscitation has been calling for this story tonight. So I’m posting it now even though it’s not quite ready.
It has bones; it has spirit. It’s a rough draft of a story that’s part of the “Woman Speaks Softly in a Small Room” series. I’ll finish the story later, when I can find how to round it out. I’ll give it more guts. Finish the flesh of it.
“The Blue Hands of Anais Nin”
Time/Place – 1999/2000 school year – North Dallas a condo
Temperature/Season – 2000 – springtime, spring break, I believe, near the end of the school year
Her home was like a secret garden, suddenly sprung up in the city
The outside was simple and plain. Within it was white and pastels and had the clean uplifting fragrance of flowers
I took a left turn when she guided me that way
We entered a room off the living room
The bedroom was low lit and had a table with a chair on either side.
Desks, books, the room felt full of secrets
She spoke quickly, softly, strongly.
She was not from Texas, I could tell. Her name was Judith
Dawn, who was then “Cindy”
(Just to see us gathered together, our names on paper seems like the most sensual thing I can imagine. My God, I almost can’t take it, to see us so close.)
Pastel pinks, whites, and green, crystal blue, ice blue
How did you hear about me?
A teacher I work with Kathy, told me about you.
How I learned to read knuckles
She used to read palms
She noticed that she could see pictures on the joints
She could see maps on knuckles. On my fingers she saw California. She saw a whale. She saw a cobbler at work.
I no longer have the tape that she made; I’m not sure I ever listened to it again. Once maybe.
But that’s not what’s really important.
I told her I was a writer and wanted to transition from being one who teaches writing to being the one who writes. I told her I’d been spending time with one of Anais Nin’s journals to remember to be true to myself, regardless of which path I take.
Her spine straightened when she heard Anais’ name. She smiled. My hand was already in hers, but she held it more tenderly. I felt a wave of warmth flow through me.
“Then you know about Eduardo, her cousin.” she said.
“Ah, yes, Eduardo. Beautiful Eduardo,” I replied.
“I was Eduardo’s companion for 25 years. He died in my arms.” Then Judith was gone, retrieving a photo from the living room. In her hands, she held a photo her and a man. Her wavy, blond framed her younger, beautiful face. She leaned over her lover, Eduardo. Once I saw his blue eyes, I could see nothing else in the photograph.
“He did have the most beautiful blue eyes. Just like Anais wrote.”
“Would you like to see her hands?”
For a moment, I didn’t understand her question. I didn’t know how to respond.
“I read her palms.”
“Yes, of course.” I whispered. Or exclaimed. I may have danced or wept. Judith opened the closet door and put her hands through files of other people hands. I couldn’t take my eyes of her, she was so bright and digging. “I mailed her a pouch of blue powder, a piece of paper, and instructions on how to mix the powder with water to create a faint blue ink. I wrote to her how to gently place her hands in a plate of the blue water, then place them lightly on the paper so that I could see the lines in her hand.”
Judith brought me the paper, a little larger than legal sized. It was encased in plastic. And on it were the blue hands of Anais Nin. I remember the sound of Judith’s voice, but her words I cannot recall. She may have told me about Anais’ heart line, her life line, her head. She may have shown me her Girdle of Venus and told me what she saw there.
Did she see in her hands this moment of three women and a distant lover together with the scent of flowers in a low lit room? Maybe my own palm would speak of such of things. All I could see what the small blue hands, so graceful, so tenderly tapering in blue on the page in my hands. Amid whatever words Judith spoke to me, I felt a question rising within me. I didn’t want to take my eyes of Anais’ hands. I wanted to touch them. If there are any hands to touch, it is these, and here they were in front of me, reaching out from paper in a way that her hands had not reached out to me before.
I raised my eyes to Judith, who stood in front of me, watching me holding Anais’ hands in mine. “May I touch them?”
“Yes,” she said. She understood and didn’t think it strange. She watched me as I placed Anais’s hands in my lap, a sacred moment. I lifted my hands to hover above the blue lines and mounds. I savored the pilgrimage of it.
I placed the bottom of the palm of my hand to the bottom of the palm of Anais’ hands. My hands covered hers completely. A warm waving light filled me. I imagined Anais, in a room somewhere with her hands wet with blue, wondering what her letter from Judith would say about her hands that sought to know her mind, to know what it is to be a woman, to know poetry and psychotherapy and a life where one doesn’t hide from oneself, no matter how dark, no matter how light. What would be the story of these dancer’s hands that hand known incest and a refuge’s longing for wholeness and home?
Had she danced that day when her hands were blue? Did she write? Certainly she mystified. Certainly she confounded. Certainly she loved, or longed to love.
I lifted my hands from hers, now changed somehow. In this room with Eduardo’s blue eyes, holding the hands of his cousin, his companion, his lovers, how could I not be changed? I’m changing still from her blue hands and that touch across time and space. I imagine she transmitted something to me – some bit of light, some bit of desire for true expression. I spent much longer at Judith’s than we had both intended. The time in the room was sweet, and it lingers still.
I only listened once to the tape Judith gave me. I think I placed it in the trunk of my car, where it warped in the heat of a Texas summer. I did leave the classroom that year. I did write. I am writing still. The color blue, the light blue of her hands, of Eduardo’s eyes isn’t just a color to me. It’s an electric feeling of love. Blue is a drunken love feeling like you get after reading too much poetry aloud. It vibrates the lungs and heart. It makes the tongue roll and the vocal chords hum. It makes the eyes droop and close, satisfied.
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