I hear that Betsy is going to have her little girl audition for entry into a private music
school. She’s to sing a composition of her choice. Thinking this might be an interesting
diversion, I decide to attend.
When I arrive at the auditorium, it’s already overflowing with mothers and their
daughters, all around ten years old . This is no orderly audition; some girls are singing to
piano accompaniment while others are running about. I worry that Betsy and her kid
haven’t yet arrived.
I listen to the last few girls sing. They don’t sing well and they’re nervous. I watch
them being hurried upstairs (apparently no one has failed part one) for their “interview”.
Then Betsy appears, very dressed up in a long gown. Her daughter, very cute, very
poised, very scrubbed, is also wearing a long dress. A pleasant pianist gets ready to play
the music they’ve brought with them. The auditorium is empty, except for the four of us.
The little girl begins to sing a difficult piece, sensitive and esoteric. She’s clearly
extraordinary. The first line of her song begins, “I care….” On the strength of her
singing, she needs no interview.
The director tells Betsy (who winces sharply) that tuition is $1780 a term, and rambles
on about where and when to send the girl’s trunk before leaving us alone in the room.
I ask Betsy how she obtained her song. “It’s from your poem,” she said. “I set your
poem to music.”
“I’d like to send you another poem,” I say.
The three of us, happy at the outcome of the little girl’s audition, continue to talk a
while before going home. At this point, Betsy notices that I, too, am wearing
a long gown. It’s soft organdy, white and ruffled, tiny green leaves and flowers all over.
Betsy says to her daughter, “Doesn’t Irene’s dress look like lettuce? Taste a little.”
The girl takes tiny false nibbles at one of the ruffles.
Scavenging at the beach, we spy an old shovel in the sand. I doubt its merits but we
take it with us. My eye passes over the terrain: sand, sea, and gulls.
In a continuation of the dream, I’m there again, but only a small, enclosed area of
beach is revealed. It’s the view from my kitchen window. The courtyard is the
beach; the three levels of rooftops beyond are the sea.
I pick up a small stone and throw it into the ocean. I am amazed when it
boomerangs! Back into my hands falls a soft, resilient object, like a child’s stuffed
animal, pinkish in color. It then becomes a baby, though not a real one. However, I
treat it as such, carrying it to a house I think it belongs to, then caring for it myself when
no one in the house pays attention.
I throw a second stone. It bounds back as a wooden elephant, ears painted white on
dark blue, a child’s toy with moveable legs.
The sea becomes a flexible sheet of clear cellophane. I ask a bather for precise
directions to the Staten Island ferry.