Thursday, February 16, 2012

The View from the Window

The edges of the houses lining the street seem impossibly clear and sharp today as I look at the world, my vision mediated by three layers of glass. The first layer is so near to me that I almost forgot to count it: the lenses of my glasses. How blurry and blundering my life would be without these, and how glorious the sudden clarity of my surroundings when I slide my glasses on! I should thank God more often for optometry.

The second layer is the window. Here too, the glass is almost unnoticeable, it is so clear. This I do remember to give thanks for, because it contrasts so sharply with the windows in our previous home. Between their double panes was a fog of water droplets and grime that made it impossible to forget the presence of an impermeable barrier between inside and outside. Miserable and uncleanable. The windows here are quite the opposite, new and fresh and well-nigh invisible. They are perfect. They even afford me a view of the sunset every evening.

The last glass in the series is a gigantic mirror. Left for us on the landing by our landlord, it stands now in the living room, in what we intended as a temporary location. We may well keep it here though, forever reflecting the window and the world outside it. This way, the room has windows on three sides. Sitting on the couch, I am surrounded by sky. I catch glimpses of movement out of the corner of my eye. When I startle and look up, I see pigeons wheeling by.

Today, the sky is a blank. Its clouded surface is clean and colorless, like the part of the paper the artist left untouched. At best, today's sky holds one layer of watercolor wash, a blue-grey too faint to really notice. The bare tree branches are inked on, behind the real subject matter of this still-life--the silent houses, their crisp lines, roofs and walls and chimneys and windows, standing patiently, perfectly defined.

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