Take them back to your red house.

Written by

Tom Waits – Ol’ 55

Isabella had an atlas. Three to be true: one under her bed which was new and still had shop stickers on its front, a second in her school-bag which was covered in brown paper, torn at the edges, and had her name and age (“7.5”) on the front, and the third she kept it in plastic covering, in a shoe box, four branches up on her favourite tree (the one with the tyre swing – the one nobody made her as it was just there when she moved in). Using her sisters green nail polish, the paint she’d use to brighten her feet, Isabella traced over anything black within this book, and this was to include every available border. She thought they were mistakes or stains, almost certainly they were intrusions. She was adamant they had tarnished and made chaotic what was intended to be a pretty picture. With some pink nail polish she’d paint bridges from one city or world to another – places she was sure needed such connection, including a deliberate, ruler inspired pink bridge from Guyana straight to Dakar. She preferred the pages with just the continents. They weren’t perfect, they were all different colours, so she still wasn’t sure how to make them all friends, but they at least had her golden stars.

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3 Responses to “Take them back to your red house.”

  1. Joan says:

    This sounds like a different Waits. A wafer-thin Waits compared to the waifish growl, hunched elbows, you see now.

  2. Milad says:

    This makes me all serene and nostalgic.

  3. Jess says:

    Very good. Have been intending to delve into some Waits for a while but kept forgetting to. Thank you for the reminder. The story’s great, nostalgic, I like the feeling of being that age again and this is really true to form.

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