“I bend down to look at you closely, the fragrance of your new life comes rushing to me, I blow gently in your two-day-old hair, you still don’t move.
You are like your mother.
When she slept, it was as if she had walked into a photograph and then never came out of the glass frame the entire night. Even if her arm was caught in an awkward angle, even if her head was half on the pillow, half outside, and her neck hurt, it didn’t matter.
Her hair across the pillow stayed exactly the way it fell when she first closed her eyes. It was only on some summer nights, when I got up, covered with sweat, to turn the fan’s regulator from two to three to four, sometimes even five, that her hair moved. Caught in the sudden rush of air, it rustled over the pillow, brushed my face like thin feathers in the dark.
But she didn’t move.
Once I asked her why. She laughed, she said there was no reason, some people move in their sleep, some don’t.
I asked her again, she laughed again. Until one night, just before going to sleep, she told me to close the door, switch the lights off and then she whispered why.
There is this dream I have every night, she said. Sometimes, it’s the first dream of the night, sometimes it comes in between two dreams, and sometimes it’s played out in slow motion, lasting the entire night.
It’s early winter in the city, the air is cool, I am in a park, which park I don’t know. It’s very quiet, I can’t hear any buses or trams, even people. There’s fine green grass on the ground, like in front of the Victoria Memorial, the wind is light, I can feel it in my hair, on the grass.
I sit on a wrought-iron bench, in front of a marble palace. Swans glide past me on the grass, white against green against the blue of the sky. And about ten feet away from me, sits a man, his face covered by a large rectangular canvas propped up on a dark brown wooden stand.
It’s like in the pictures of artists in story books. I can’t see him in full. I see only a flash of his elbow when he moves his hands, I can see his knee, he’s wearing dark trousers. His face I can’t see.
Once or twice, he bends to his left to look at me, to check if he’s getting the lines right, but I cannot remember his face. All I remember is what he tells me from behind the canvas. One sentence, at least three or four times: ‘don’t move,’ he says, ‘I am, painting you, please don’t move.’
Maybe that’s why I don’t move in my sleep, she said.”
- (the blue bedspread)