‘Paper Scraps’: 533 Nobska Road

Nov. 27, 2022, 10:24 p.m.

Isabelle’s column “Paper Scraps” explores the way memories come in pieces and how we put them together.

Like light, geodesic domes reflect sound.

A geodesic dome looks like a jungle gym or trash bag
stretched over bones. If you sleep under a blue tarp
in the april pines, you know the way the rain sounds.
Waterproof in the way skin is waterproof, you still get wet.
A geodesic dome is built without support. No columns, no walls. This crescent
of panels pressing against one another. And because they are pressing against each other,
they’re constantly moving. Always drunk on something,
no one noticed. They already had their sea legs.

1913- A January

A hundred years ago it was just a hill and grass and a single lady slipper orchid.
Used for tooth pain, nervousness, antispasmodic, to counter insomnia.
And the lady slipper grew through piles of mica.

1923- A February

A wind often blew out to sea. The kind of wind that carries bandaids
and wedding rings away for a long time. And when it blew
the old maple that would only get older would shiver a blizzard
of helicopter seeds into the air, falling west toward Ram island.
The people, stepping over puddles, would reach into the air for the seeds.

1933- A March 

Eighty years ago it snowed. But only for a moment.
And then it turned to slush and all the mica sunk into the dirt.
The lady slipper died and no one missed it.

1942- An April

During parties across the street, it was here that the people would go, to squat or unzip
and relieve themselves.

1943- A May

The blackout was that summer. All the heads out the windows to make sure
they weren’t the only ones. Some people made love
with their eyes open under the light the open sky offered.

1953- A June

Sixty years ago four men and one woman built the dome.
If you asked them, they’d remind you she only helped with the laundry room
and you’d tell them you thought the laundry room was glorious and that you had to go.
It was a restaurant and a hotel. Each of the rooms had a phone that didn’t work
and two coffee mugs with anatomical drawings of fish on them.
They were known for whiskey sours and the way the light came in
the curved windows. And you’d have thought there would be enough of everything
to go around. Maybe even twice.

1953- A July

It was a big year for television. By the end, the people couldn’t touch their toes.

1973- An August

There were sprinklers on the ceiling but they’d never need them
because the ceiling was always raining. Once the people learned
about the dome rain, they started bringing umbrellas. Suit jackets
under layers of planetariums.

1983- A September 

Thirty years ago the only cars parked in the lot at night had fogged up windows.
No one mowed the lawn anymore. The vines on the side: green
to red to crumbling away towards Ram’s. It’s always dark there now.
Except that one night when someone blew out a candle.

1988- An October

Twenty five years ago they did a radio show. If you lived there, you’d have too.
This is MVY radio, martha’s vineyard, nantucket and the world.

1991- A November

Hold onto your hats they’d say. Hold on.
Storm water pooled in the basements of the houses by the marsh
and all the people who lived on hills said thank god we live on hills
and the people who lived away from the woods said thank god we live away from the woods.
But by then no one really believed in god anyway.
When the pools of water in the peoples’ basements stilled,
wintered, it got very quiet for a while.
Hold onto your hats they’d say. Hold on.

1999- A December

I’m knockin’ on your screen door in the summertime.
I’m knockin’ on your screen door in the summertime.
On some nights it would just be two. Your forehead on a shoulder,
a back to the wall. And when the wind blew on the clearest nights
the whole structure ever so slightly swayed, the dome and your bodies draped on its skin.

2012- A January 

To watch the dirt glitter again. To get on one another’s shoulders. Inner thighs to chins.
To climb to the chimney breath rising up like smoke while all the other kids watch.
To almost step inside. To make it a corridor or a coffin or a camera.
But no one ever did. It was just a little too dark.

2013- A February

There are too many things to do anyway,
the smell of the laundry room when the clothes are out to dry.
It’s just a big pile of dirt. Nothing special, the mica
soaked into faraway pores. The view is probably better,
though you never even noticed a view before, and it snows now often.
The people have taken to tobogganing down the new hill.

Isabelle is a Junior from Woods Hole, MA studying English with a creative writing emphasis. She works as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal and in Berkeley as a contemporary ballet dancer.

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