Kerry Tepperman Campbell Dreaming of France #107

Windows. Windows that are doors, French doors. Since childhood she has admired French doors, equated them with gracious living and beauty, with a mysterious aspect of elegance. As a design element, they can function the way a turn in the path does in a Japanese garden, arousing curiosity and urging the viewer on.

The night her father died, she slept in the chair beside his hospital bed. He did not believe in God. For some, she knows, God is the French door, the glimpse, a partial view of what lies beyond. She could not exactly introduce her father to God so late in the game, but she thought a French door might be helpful.

That night she imagines she and her father are together in France, standing beside enormous French doors looking out at an ancient garden. In the distance she sees an armillary sphere centered in a perfectly square knot garden. Just beyond the door a sprawling lacecap hydrangea is partially visible. Its milky petals echo the moon. For her the desire to see the pale violet at the center of each petal is almost unbearable.

She and her father stand together at the door, but still he does not take the handle. She knows she cannot turn it for him. The room is suddenly cold. She looks down at their bare feet, side by side on the stone floor, and remembers how the likeness of their feet fascinated her when she was a child. When she looks up, a cloaked, hooded figure stands on the other side of the door. He holds a lantern in one hand, and opens the door into the garden with the other. "Hermes," she says.

This word nudges her father's memory, and she sees the sudden recognition as he grasps the meaning of a text read long ago. As he crosses the threshold, she is left alone at the open doorway. The fragrance of honeysuckle rushes in to cover her.


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