"Of many magics, one is watching a beloved sleep: free of eyes and awareness, you for a sweet moment hold the heart of him; helpless, he is then all, however irrationally, you have trusted him to be, man-pure, child-tender."
- Truman Capote
So much has been said and written about Capote's status as a celebrity, as (dare I say it?) a social phenomenon, that it's often hard to remember that he was, also and more importantly, a writer of considerable talent. This line, from an extract from his newly discovered first novel 'Summer Crossing' that appears in this week's New Yorker (sadly unavailable to non-subscribers) is a good example of the almost playful richness of his prose. It's a line that's simply thrown away in the middle of a crowded paragraph, but that nevertheless manages to sing with its own quiet exuberance. For anyone who's ever watched a love one sleeping the connection is immediate, exact.
I am reminded of an Atwood poem:
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head...
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
Sigh. That's one more book I'm going to have to buy.