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Tag Archives: Irene

Concordance of the unknown…I ~ 6, much earlier…

Sometimes, when her father was traveling and her mother and Frieda were napping on Frieda’s narrow bed and all the boys were busy with the horses or mill work, Irene would set down her towel and steal silently to her father’s bureau to peer into the narrow mirror that hung there above the basin and pitcher. In its walnut frame, the mirror had a faintly brassy cast and showed black lines in the reflective surface. It was her father’s shaving glass and it was the only mirror in the house.

The face that looked back at her was wide and plain, the thin hair pulled back from her brow, fuzzy wisps curling where they escaped. She had none of her mother’s concentrated beauty — not her coffee-dark eyes or her thick, chestnut hair — and Irene knew that when her father called her “my lovely,” he was wanting of her some favor, some task, teasing her out from the crowded field of her brothers.

She had many things to occupy her hands and mind and time, but, at 16, she found herself wondering whether anyone might ever find her truly lovely. Standing before the mirror, one finger tracing the narrow contours of her lips, the darkened circles beneath her eyes, she thought perhaps not.

Concordance of the unknown…I ~ 5

I cardLater, when she tried to recall the journey, she remembered nothing of the miles covered that first day. She could still see the neighbors waving, her sight blurred by tears, and the baby bundled in her lap. But the long hours of riding, the meals unwrapped from the basket and eaten at the roadside, the children running and napping and crying — all that was lost.

How hard it had been that first night, asking shelter from strangers. The cart had drawn up in front of the small, rough-hewn stone house sheltered below the branches of an ancient cedar. The rabbi’s house. Berti had told her the name, described the house and the tree.

How often she had opened her own door to the timid knock of a passing traveler, made welcome the men and the families who knew there would be warm food, a clean bed. But now, to stand at this solid wood door with its iron hinges, the baby in her arms, the two children clinging to her skirt, she felt she had suddenly inhabited someone else’s life, become someone unknown, a stranger to herself…

Concordance of the Unknown ~ I…3

I card …The gray-green field shorn of its harvest, the scrubby oaks, the low shoulder of rock pressing out of the hillside. Chickens and goats scrabble among shriveled leftovers of vegetable gardens, the last of the squash plucked and put up for the season.

The sun slants its winter light toward them, offering no solace or warmth. The boy and girl, so filled with anticipation just moments ago, sleep in curled bundles beneath woolen quilts, the baby warming her lap in his leaden slumber.

The man says nothing to her, but chucks or clicks now and then to urge the horse, which presses forward, slow and deliberate, along the well-worn track. His wife, stirring porridge at the warm stove as he left, would dig the last of the potatoes today, kneeling on her folded square of cloth.

Behind Irene, stuffed with the clothes they would need for the journey, carpet bags form a nest around the sleeping children. A single trunk is lashed to the cart. She tugs the blanket tighter around her shoulders and touches the place over her breast where Berti’s letter lies carefully folded…