Monday, January 28, 2008

Loving then Reading Books

Tess and Colm have spent countless hours like this on couches, chairs, sprawled on the floor, the lawn, or the deck, at home, on boats, in airplanes. It's always been her holding the book and holding too the pose of the reader with Colm at her side contentedly looking on.
This photo taken almost a year ago in Arles shows them absorbed in the act of studying and turning pages. It was a ritual act that for them which had some sense for them insofar as there were pictures to contemplate and spur their private and collaborative imaginings. Both of them knew of course that words existed on those selfsame pages; they knew that those words could be read, and that when they were read(by us), the pictures themselves could be made to swell inside their frames as if they were about to explode on to another page.

But till recently Tess and Colm usually contented themselves to sit alone together in the presence of the mysterious promptings of images and to leave the text to crawl ant-like about the margins of their vision.
This year however Tess has found her attention captured more and more by the words. Now when she and her brother sit together, instead of improvising story lines triggered by the pictures, she reads painstakingly what is written there. Colm, ever impressed by his sister's inclinations, has also become more conscious that words inhabit these pages. He looks from the image to the word and occasionally to his sister's face.
There are more clues than he can sort out, but he manages nonetheless to recognize here and there a word, no doubt aided by the way Tess traces her own progress on the page with her index finger. Tess still sets the pace, but there is a different cadence to their ritual, a different reason animating their decisions to turn the pages.
Beth and I look up every so often, prompted perhaps by the recognition of a stealthy calm that has enveloped us like a warm blanket. We see them on the sofa, oblivious to everything but the book on her lap - content to be alone together, somewhere within the covers of a book.


Anonymous erin said...

Beautiful! That's how it all starts, too, the love affair with the written words of others. You guys are raising some awesome little people there! Hugs to everyone~

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Aw, this makes my heart swell with emotion: happiness, pride, anticipation, recognition. Beautiful.

10:27 PM  

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