A View from the Raft
Piglet and I decided to take a selfie.
As the French writer Colette entered her elder years she was crippled with chronic arthritis. She often spoke of writing from her raft—her bed and the moveable bed tray/table where she kept all her necessities. Of this table, she wrote in The Blue Lantern:
“Including the all-purpose knife with its scorpion handle, the bunch of fountain-pens and various knick-knacks of no particular use, I have assembled on its back a fair number of good and willing servants.
All round me a litter of papers; but a litter belied by its appearance, with more often than not, to add to the confusion, a boiled chestnut, a half-eaten apple, and for the last month a seed-pod…”
Next to the blue-and-white couch where I have slept since coming home from the hospital I have my own necessities and knick-knacks laid out on the gold metal-and-mirror coffee table. Fallen in love with at Pier One Imports, the table’s actually in three parts; the middle and left section stay fairly stable, while the right section creeps up and retreats depending on how close I want my coffee cup.
At the far end are the tax papers that I have to figure out how to scan so I can send them to my friend J for her tax return magic. The middle section has the apparatus for the breathing exercises I’ve long ceased to do faithfully, Thomas Lux’s New and Selected Poems (the second volume of poetry I’m trying to read cover to cover this year), the antique gold embroidered purse that usually hangs around for decorative purposes and its accompanying glass paperweight. There are the remotes of course—for the TV and the Roku box, and also the tissue box my mother insisted we bring home from the hospital since they were going to throw it out. There’s also mail I’ve yet to look at—the Phillips Collection membership mgazine and something else or the other I should read. And my journal, of course, which I’ve managed to write in near every morning except the Saturday after surgery when thanks to morphine my writing was cramped and illegible, trailing off not only in the middle of sentences but also in the middle of words. And there’s also the 2013 yearly journal where I’m tracking the books I’m reading during my convalescence, the poems I’m writing, the little achievements.
There are also the pages I tore out of the latest House Beautiful and have yet to file in the “some day” files, the two “diamonded” bobby pins I wore in my hair the other day to pretend that I’d combed it, Smith’s Rosebud Salve (one of four or five tins and tubes scattered in various places throughout the apartment), thank you cards, a list of people to thank, and the stamps that Eleanor brought me today. (She also brought me a delicious spinach and cheese quiche.)
Somewhere there’s also the first section of my poem “written in between the lines of” Marina Abramovic’s manifesto. My attempt at the second section was depressingly awful, so that particular writing tablet’s been tossed under the table. There’s also a pile of articles—including an old New Yorker profile on George Clooney titled “Somebody Has to Be In Control” that I may re-read some day. And of course there’s the last pen I actually like writing with. I seem to have used up the ink in all of the rest of them. (When did I become so picky about pens?)
Though I expect to brave my bed come Tuesday (I’ve been sleeping on the couch since I came home as it made it easier to sleep all the way or partially sitting up, which was easier on my incision), I expect to return to my blue-and-white, mirror and metal raft for the rest of my convalescence, for where else can I snuggle with Piglet (a get-well gift from a high school friend) and be mindful of his dictum: “Doing Nothing Sometimes Takes All Day.”