This morning I wanted to set up the Orion Telescope CD for my husband, the one that accompanied the telescope I gave him for his 76th birthday last year, but every time I try to get him to use the computer, even if it doesn’t concern email or the internet, he turns his nose up, as if it comes from a different world; and, indeed, it does. I’ve thought I could tempt him with Science since he’s a retired pathologist and ever since he was a kid, went to the Bronx High School of Science, won the Westinghouse Science Talent Search Award and I don’t know how many others, he has been hypnotized by anything Science. But now his eyes go elsewhere, and I give up the notion of learning more about planetary systems with him, at least for today. I start to get up to do the dishes, but his words stop me:
This room has so much mercy in it
I sit back down. What do you mean?
The goodness of it...
the books, the words
that fall from the shelves
The quiet ... the softness ... and poetry
The whole aura of this place
With Bach playing in the background?
Yes and the bananas ...
There’s a certain tenderness in bananas
In the oatmeal
with the milk poured over it?
Yes, and the picture in front of the Freud books
it has a certain peacefulness to it
The one of you and Butchie?
Yes, on the porch,
in the sun.
We’re almost praying
Yes, praying ...
for things future … for things past ...
I've always thought of the kitchen table in our library/family/everything-in-it room as a crowded mess. Not until now and this conversation with my husband, tired and infirm, have I considered that there could be anything as grand or as simple as mercy here in our scrambled lives.
Esther Altshul Helfgott