A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Evening At Home (With Bitterness)
Monday, January 25, 2010

Evening At Home
(with bitterness)

There you are
Sitting before me,
Relaxed…sprawling, almost,
Your newspaper making little
Hackneyed rustlings.
And I am here
In the red armchair,
Hands loose in my lap,
Doing nothing.

Not a word has joined us
For half an hour.
The silence is not expectant,
Not comfortable-
A dull, slate colored silence.

I ask myself, wonderingly:
“How can you miss someone
Who is right before you?”
Because I miss you,
I am unspeakably lonely
Even as I gaze upon you.
(You turn a page…there is a
You light another cigarette.
And I reach for a magazine
Three months old.)

Such As These – Dolores de Iruretagoyena de Humphrey, Mexico D.F. 1955

I became curious this evening thinking about my beautiful Aunt Dolly, my mother’s younger sister, with whom I have not had a word for at least 37 years. When my mother died in 1972, Aunt Dolly called me to tell me that it was such a pity that my mother had died a thief. A thief she was as she had kept what was left of my grandmother’s jewels. Most of them had been pawned (my mother's side of the story) to finance my Uncle Tony’s divorce and Aunt Dolly’s divorce to Uncle Joe Tow, both in Argentina where divorce was not recognized. My aunt had no words of comfort for me at my mother’s death. She told me that I, too was a thief by association. That was the last time I ever talked to her.

Through the years I have missed my Aunt Dolly who was our family’s Audrey Hepburn. Aunt Dolly was beautiful, slim and knew how to dress, wear jewelry and hold a martini glass with class. She could also write very well. When I was in the Argentine Navy in the 60s I corresponded with Aunt Dolly. I think I may have not only honed the few writing skills I might have now with those letters but in retrospect perhaps it wasn’t only from my father that I inherited a desire to write.

Aunt Dolly is not well as she is close to 90. I will probably never speak to her again. Today I had a pang of curiousity and I opened a book of poetry (in Spanish and in English) she published in Mexico in 1955. I read this poem and it wrenched my heart.

Her second husband, Bill Humphrey was an American geologist, very handsome with a nose that had been broken a few times in a boxing ring. Bill was tough. He mistreated Dolly’s son Robin and was not too kind to Robin’s sister Dolores. Bill loved his wine red 1955 Buick Century which he drove with only his right hand. His left hand was outside the window.

For reasons that I was never able to figure out he treated me with affection even though I was not an altogether likeable boy. I thought he was cool.

I remember the conversations between Dolly and my mother involving the latest problems from Bill and how he had done this or that to Robin and Dolores. People were afraid of the man. I never understood this because I never saw anything but kind attention and a smile in my direction.

When I read this poem I almost cried for my Aunt Dolly and I can picture her alone in her home in Houston. I only wish I could be there and tell her, “In spite of everything I am your nephew and friend.”


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