Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Inside the Train

"Layers of Yes," © Laurie Wajima, 2005.


There were iris beds, a strawberry patch, a dog yard, a willow tree whose roots tangled into the septic tank, a dirt alley and a dozen neighbor kids out the back door of the house on Longview Street. Father stared out the window next to that back door every morning, drinking coffee and smoking. He stood there, and if I asked what he was doing he would say, "Looking out the window." Out the front door was a long porch, cool concrete, maple trees and pines, a lamp post, Longview Street, weeds, a cyclone fence, the golf course, then Sheridan Road. The cellar door opened horribly to dark steps, lined with mops, brooms, sponges, rags, cleaning brushes, vacuum attachments that followed children downstairs to a huge cellar with dark, high windows and a ringer washing machine which could swallow a child, shoelaces and all. Off to the side, under an eight-inch-thick concrete ceiling with a car parked on top of it, was a vault where we stashed supplies for nuclear attack or a tornado, whichever came first. The cellar door led to damp things, unfinished, underground things that made my heart beat fast, terror grabbing my throat and shoulder blades like claws that pulled me upstairs two steps at a time. The door to Grandmother’s room was open. There was a closet door in her room where it smelled of skin oil and perfume, where nylon print dresses hung silent above grandmother shoes and purses. Grandmother was forbidden to go through the kitchen door when Mother was in there working. "Can’t she help?" I asked, but Mother shushed me fast and Grandma pretended to be deaf. The garage door led to a blue, four-door Ford Fairlane, that took us from Illinois to California, the car that got vapor lock in the mountains. The garage door also led to shelves and shelves of tools and gimcracks Father used to fix things that were broken and vice versa. Once, to get a better view, Mother held the car door open while she backed out of the garage and left the car door jammed between the garage door elbow and the car. Once Father opened the large garage door, opened the car door, got in and backed the car in the garage into the car in the driveway. Later he said he’d always wanted to do that! Once Father slammed his finger in the car door, and once he slammed his finger in the garage door—index fingers on both hands, a matching set of vertical finger nails. One car door opened sideways, a lumpy brown Hudson Father bought for $50, the children’s taxi, he called it, saying it wouldn’t go fast enough for Mother to get a ticket, but she got one in the school zone in front of Greenwood Elementary School, the doors of which swelled with children of all descriptions, with multi-syllabic names from all over Europe, but when Grandmother asked me where my friends were from, I’d say, "America, Grandma!" There were two bathroom doors, one in Grandmother’s room; the other was the family bathroom in reference to which someone was always shouting, "Shut the door." There was a door to the front bedroom which was mine until Father built two rooms and another bathroom upstairs saying, "Wouldn’t it be nice for the girls to have a bathroom of their own, Anne?" There was a door at the end of the hall between my room and the large bedroom where Mother and Father slept next to jewelry boxes full of expensive jewelry which Mother didn’t like Father to spend money on, and costume jewelry she wore with color coordinated outfits. A plastic folding door petitioned off the nursery when my sister was a baby and there were sliding doors to Mother and Father’s closets which were dark and full of costumes that were hilarious. There was no lock on the attic door behind which were murderers. I pushed a chest against the attic door at night. In the daytime it was safe. I smoked back there until Father suggested I would be less likely to burn the house down if I smoked in the bathroom with the fan running so no one would know. The door to the upstairs bathroom was pink and Formica around the two sinks was pink and the towels were pink. So were the walls. The door from the dining room downstairs to the living room was an open arch and next to it was a brown arched tube radio we gathered around at night for radio dramas and world news in the corner of the living room furthest from the door to the front hall closet, full of coats, where it smelled like mothballs and where Mother kept the fur coat she wore when she dressed to go out the front door with Father, who kept his wallet, change, cigarettes and matches on an antique table next to the closet door, across from the piano next to the fireplace over which hung a large watercolor painting of a polar bear standing on an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, which Father said made him cold. And there was the door to the train Father disappeared into every morning and stepped out of every evening, a black steaming engine pulling cars with green windows behind which sat people reading gigantic newspapers, a shrieking trail of doors rolling and clattering to Chicago and back, Chicago, where doors were stacked on top of doors in towers that turned streets into canyons, where a child could look up and not see the top, where revolving glass doors spun, never stopping, and an infinite tangle of doors led to restaurants and department stores, dentists and bathrooms, elevators and stairwells in patterns too complex for a child’s understanding and for that reason— exhilarating.

Graphic: "Inside" by ©Lauri Wajima, 2005

Poetry ©Susan Bright, 2006

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


What it is About

Earthfamily Principles

Earthfamilyalpha Content II

Earthfamilyalpha Content




Blogger SB said...

For those of you in Austin, Laurie Wajima will do a Train Show --

3-6 pm



12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurie Wajima missing. Is this the same woman?


8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check Google News

8:45 AM  
Blogger SB said...

Yes, Laurie was reported missing at 1:30 am by her parent's in LaPort, PA. They think she had gone swimming but don't know what happened after that. That is what the newspaper article said. I don't have any other details. There are articles in the newspaper in LaPort and in Williamsburg.

We are praying for her safe return. Anyone who knows anything more please email --

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrible news to report:

(Saturday, September 16) A woman who has been missing for four days in Sullivan County has been found dead.
State Police say they recovered the body of Laurie Wajima around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Lake Mokoma in Laporte.
The 38-year-old went missing on the lake on Tuesday.
More than a dozen different agencies have spent the past few days looking for Wajima.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a longtime friend of Laurie Wajima's sister Amy Williams. I have just heard from a mutual friend of ours that Laurie drowned in Laporte, PA. I am so sorry....

8:10 AM  
Blogger SB said...

Yes --

Tragicaly Laurie was reported missing on Tuesday, Sept 12, and on Saturday the 16th her body was found in Lake Mokoma about 150 yards from her parent's peir. She'd gone to PA for her sister's wedding.

We will miss her deeply.

If you email -- sbright1@austin.rr.com -- I'll pass your concerns to her family.

8:40 PM  
Blogger SB said...

Obit: Laurie Williams Wajima

Laurie Williams Wajima, formerly known as Laurie Ann Williams, went to meet her Lord on Sept. 12, 2006, at Lake Mokoma, in Laporte, Pa.

In addition to her parents and husband, she is survived by her siblings, Christopher M Williams (Stacy) of Montoursville, Pa., and Amy W. Sundaram (Prasanna) of East Providence, R.I.

Mrs. Wajima attended the Williamsport and Muncy public schools but graduated from the Stony Brook School, a Christian School located in Long Island, N.Y. Following high school she graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., with honors and majors in English writing and photography. As part of her studies she attended Oxford University in England and traveled extensively in Europe and Africa.

After College, Mrs. Wajima moved to Austin, where she started twobusinesses, one in Austin and one in Galveston, Texas.

In 1994, Mrs. Wajima moved to Williamsport, Pa., where she took a position as a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch. In 1997, after her marriage to Dr. Wajima, they moved to the Yokota Air Base (USAF) near Tokyo, Japan, and they resided there until late in l999, when they moved to the Washington, DC area. In 2000 Mrs. Wajima became a financial consultant with Smith Barney and later with Mass. Mutual. In 2005 the Wajimas moved back to Austin, where Dr. Wajima assumed a new position.

Laurie Wajima enjoyed downhill skiing, swimming, yoga, painting and photography. She had planned an art exhibit of her paintings this month in Austin. Recently she and her husband attended the Mesa Community Church. While in Williamsport, she was a member of the Pine Street United Methodist Church and the advisory board of the American Rescue Workers. In Japan, she served as the station chairman of the American Red Cross at the Yokota Air Base and taught English in a Japanese Catholic girls' school. During the time she lived in Japan she traveled to China, Singapore, Korea and later in Mexico and all over the United States. In Washington she was the city group team captain for the Susan Komen Race for The Cure. She was a member of the Epilepsy Foundation of America and the Mokoma Conservancy.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Eagles Mere Presbyterian Church. Friends may call at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mokoma Conservancy, PO Box 220, Laporte, Pa. 18626-0220.

Arrangements are under the direction of the P. Dean Homer FuneralHome, 206 Water St., Dushore, Pa.

She will be sorely missed by family and friends and has forever changed the many lives she touched.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was friends with Laurie when she lived in Williamsport during the mid 90's. I am terribly sad about the circumstances of her death and know that she will be truly missed.

7:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home