Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 26.1 (Nancy Kuhl)

Kuhl, Nancy
The Wife of the Left Hand


Given to me by the author, who, if memory serves, refused to inscribe it, despite my several pleas, each of which received the response: "Later, I promise I'll do it before I leave town" Alas, Nancy, alas.

The occasion was a reading by the author in the Hibiscus Room at Just Buffalo. She came to town with the literary outlaw Richard Deming in tow, and the two of them read together.

We named the Hibiscus Room after the color of the paint we'd used to cover the walls, a kind of yellowish green that was so bright you could see it glowing from down the hall. I'd gotten the idea for the color from a commercial I'd seen on television.

It was one of those dot-com boom era commercials in which savvy urbanites live amid vaguely asian minimalist splendor in new high rises paid for by their latest IPO. In this particular version, the young, childless couple buys a flat-screen television from Philips and can't find the right place to put it in their modestly-sized urban living space. Eventually, they suspend it from the ceiling over the bed. The commercial ends with the two of them lying next to each other on top of the covers, a pair of smug grins painted on their faces as they tune in.

I'd remembered also that the groovy yuppies in the commercial had some of the Noguchi paper shade lighting that IKEA now sells by the shipload, so I bought a couple of the those for the room as well. Lori helped me find the right color on one of her many color decks. She also helped us paint the room.

Later, Isabelle Pelissier painted a set of six gorgeous panels depicting abstracted close-ups of hibiscus flowers, which we hung above the stage air in two sets of three, mounted horizontally on either side of a door. The door led to the offices of Buffalo Arts Studio. We'd lost the key, so it never opened.

After Just Buffalo moved, Lori and I hung the Hibiscus paintings on a wall in a room off the kitchen in our house in Black Rock until one day Isabelle asked for them back. We were sad to see them go. I think they are with her in Maine now, unless she sold them.

from The Wife of the Left Hand
The Wife of the Left Hand

is on the bed
sweating; without
and still. Hurricane
of afternoon, lingering
smell of seaweed
it must be August. She,
there, the bed beneath
her. Everything slight-
ly hazy. The body, no
good house, wants what it
wants; does not listen.
Careless breath, all wave
and sky, sneaks
under her eyelid. She
pretends not to hear
the persistent knock
on the screen door.

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