Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hand signals

A tired conversation about winter flung me into the memory of wearing mittens on a string as a toddler. I don't actually remember wearing them, mittens on, but am stirred by the slightest sensation of something dangling off my wrists, and of stingingly cold, red-raw fingers, wet from forming snowballs. Tugging at recall's slack fabric the string became a rope, long and firm enough to draw up all manner of things as from a deep well. Hearsay only that the river was frozen over when
I was born. Is it true that winter unfailingly covered the promenade under our windows with a thick white blanket? Maybe I can trust the ambivalence of feeling, of experience: the exhilaration of snowball fire, pelting those icy missiles, hardened by rolling them in bare hands, is set against the fear, no, terror, of being hit in the face, which also marred any ballgame I might participate in, and my shame about that fear and how it made me awkward, past and present.
All the while the word 'heirloom' was throbbing at the back of my mind, with a question about one of its constituent parts: does 'loom' here refer to the weaving of memories and relationships, or to something from the past looming large?

The mittens are oversize, each 26 cm x 44 cm,
connecting string 220 cm long, 2.2 cm thick