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After Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth (1948)

I inhabit this place, I guess to define it as home. Where I’ve lived ever since I can remember having skin. Ever since I could remember what skin felt. All is decrepit now, almost functionless. I don’t want you to pity my circumstances, just to understand my limitations. I’ve lived here so long that I’ve come to know all the small, restrictive physicalities around me. The width of the hallways and the chips in the bathroom tiles. Every surface is touchable and unstable and terribly familiar. Every dimension confined by occupation. I am no longer young. I have moved upon the floorboards for so long, they’ve learned to sag without resistance. That is perhaps the one redemptive thing about aging—the diminishing of resistance. To hard surfaces, to soft needs. Pushing on my hips, I let them sag me down until I’m back on the bathroom tile, crawling and noticing all the cracks. How similar those fractures are to the wheat fields stretching behind this wall. Blond stalks, bending forever. Their organic lines are impossible to predict or make sense of. I lose myself in the possibility of growth. I am no longer young. Things no longer grow for me, in this house. Everything is getting smaller and somehow less manageable. I crawl from room to room like I’m being digested, absorbed and reduced until I’m just a residual of that girl who had so much energy, so much light. I’ve become waste. I inhabit this place with so many rooms. How they constrict me! Take me back to the fields, leave me with my dragging limbs. Perhaps they will snag on some exposed root and tear away from me. I want to crawl and shed all these things, my drapings and furnishings. I wish to no longer have space or age or any such dimensions weigh me flat and slow. What is the purpose of this construction? Walls have no use at the edge of the land. Who would bother me if I were to just abandon form completely? I ask the floor, the molding rising from, the walls again, the wallpaper peeling off. Cloth, skin. Inhabited material. I tell the hole in the door, remind me what home could be. Take me to the fields so I may, for the last time, look back upon this structure I know. Let it stand for some other, or let time handle it slowly with deterioration. Just take me to the fields so I can, for the first time, go where things still stand, placeless with youth.

By Arley Sakai


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