Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

From The Year of Magical Thinking

From <i>The Year of Magical Thinking</i>

Photograph via Flickr by shutterhacks

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

“Several years ago, walking east on Fifty-seventh Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues on a bright fall day, I had what I believed at the time to be an apprehension of death. It was an effect of light: quick sunlight dappling, yellow leaves falling (but from what? were there even trees on West Fifty-seventh Street?), a shower of gold, spangled, very fast, a falling of the bright. Later I watched for this effect on similar bright days but never again experienced it. I wondered then if it had been a seizure, or stroke of some kind. A few years before that, in California, I had dreamed an image that, when I woke, I knew had been death: the image was that of an ice island, the jagged ridge seen from the air off one of the Channel Islands, except in this case all ice, translucent, a blued white, glittering in the sunlight. Unlike dreams in which the dreamer is anticipating death, inexorably sentenced to die but not yet there, there was in this dream no dread. Both the ice island and the fall of the bright on West Fifty-seventh Street seemed on the contrary transcendent, more beautiful than I could say, yet there was no doubt in my mind that what I had seen was death.”

Death is a stain on her brain.