Either Way: Göteborg

by Gabrielle Grace Kauffmann

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Hej. Mjölk. Ägg. The day could go either way; morning is quiet. I need to find some good bread. When you cross the street, the green light lets you know it is safe to walk by a rattling - a chinking of masts that collide in a windy harbor. In blinding light, café terraces and folded blankets. Seagulls never far. Suntanned faces, though magpies drink from auburn puddles each morning. Anita says it is because they are starved for light, to stock it up. Down the street is a long store that sells nothing but skis, not even boots. It is skis, not skies, in the plural. Nothing but skies.

I could go anywhere. I could go anywhere there is light and people with kind faces. The teapot would still be on my right, the crumbs wiped as they fell. I could go anywhere, I see now, and still be caught in the waiting and watching. Things that gain momentum, action, motions set forth. And shaping life – how? How do I lift and hold the dripping clay, the salt dough I have assembled? It is not squeezing, it is not pinching, it is something that is alive with a weight in my palms, that will assume any shape. Something that will withhold, withstand heat.

Anita told the story of her wedding ring. She was having soup and I had finished my coffee. Her old dog sat between our chairs, a sliver of tomato by his white muzzle. After thirty-five years of marriage, she took off the ring and gave it to Anna, her friend the jewelry-maker. Anna melted, hammered, squeezed gold between her fingers. She wore it against her breast, tucked inside her bra. This band, Anita can wear.

Gabrielle Grace Kauffmann is Franco-American. She is writer-in-residence at Konstepidemin (The Epidemic of Art), in Gothenburg, where she will be staying until June 2010. She is currently at work on her first novel, Comment oublier un ange, a multi-media, bilingual exploration of identity and voices.

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