Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lumps of Sugar

Here is a delightful sentence I read this morning:

The painter and the host almost fight because a man breaks lumps of sugar while the gypsy sings.

It sounds like someone placed a string of magnetized words across the refrigerator door. I laughed out loud when I read them. The cadence compels me say them out loud. The imagery conjures up a world, and for every picture a thousand more unfold.

The painter. I picture an easel, a palette, brushes, an air of otherworld-ness. The host makes me think we are in a café or at a private party. The fight suggests to me they are men, which suggests to me that I have a bias. The gypsy sings and I see the dark countenance, the flowing presence, the bells, joy, sensuality, passion. I hear a melody that moves like lovers and rouges. As for the lumps of sugar, this must be from another place and time, and it must be a noisy process breaking lumps of sugar.
I was, of course, reading these words in context, but they still stood out in a particularly nonsensical, I want to go there kind of way. How nice for the gypsy that her music mattered enough that it should not be drowned out by lumps of sugar, though no doubt the near fight was worse still.

Ultimately, this sentence today might be: The waitress and the sound man almost fight because a man orders a cappuccino while the song writer performs. Now we are in a bar in Nashville. But the now of the scene above is Paris in the early 1930’s. The writer? It is Anais Nin retelling a fun time to her diary. The words are not made up or even necessarily creative. She simply has a way with words that re-creates the world and keeps it alive. She makes me want to write.

No comments: