Diane Comer

selections from Diane’s publications


“The table is our first geometry....”

The table is our first geometry: square, circle, rectangle, or the pecan oval of my childhood where I am a fixed point beside my sister, across from my brother, with our parents at the head and foot. I did not always sit there. In a photo taken on my second birthday, I am sitting in a highchair, beating my hands on the metal tray smeared with cake, wearing a chocolate frosting grin. I am tangential to the family table and the picture shows me straining to get out of my highchair to attain a place at the bigger, better table. In a later photo I am consoled with the dregs of someone’s wine glass. At two, I already understand something: the party is at the other table, the table I am not seated at, the table a short distance from my highchair or across the room in the restaurant or across the room of memory....

Read more from ‘Family Geometry’, first published in Fourth Genre 5(1), Spring 2003, and selected for republication by the editors for Five Years of Fourth Genre, Michigan State University Press (IBSN 087013776X), USA, 2006. For more of Diane’s work, see Publications.

“You can pray and maybe it will help, but it takes a heap of faith to bring lemongrass to the plains....”

I never know how long the baby will nap. The time varies, an hour, ninety minutes, three hours. Sometimes the merest creak of the wooden floor and he surfaces from sleep. Other times a dog yowls, a train whistles, the phone rings and he sleeps on and on. I did not know his nap would last and still I got nothing done. Perhaps the first thing I gave up when I had a child was the idea of getting something done, anything done, a shower, the dishes, the laundry, a letter–what letter, forget the letter. Not girl, interrupted, but life, interrupted, coitus interrupted, everything interrupted. And yet what other interruption gives this much joy, this fierce tenderness and still leaves you speechless with anger, with grief, with loneliness? …

Read more from ‘Lemongrass to the Plains’, first published Quarterly West, ©2005. For more of Diane’s work, see Publications.

“Often what propels us forward is absence, not presence…”

In a whole-foods restaurant in Galway, Ireland, a bearded man kept looking at me across the small crowded interior. I bent to my lentils and greens, sipped my bancha tea. Seventeen, my hair still blonde, wearing an Icelandic wool sweater I’d bought in Copenhagen, I was game, and gamy. He crossed the room, took the bench opposite, introduced himself. His English perfect, the clear English spoken by the Dutch, the vowels clean, the consonants crisp. The usual exchange, where was I from, where had I been, where did I want to go. I wanted to go to....

Read more from ‘The Ore of Longing’, first published in AGNI Magazine, issue 62, 2005, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Web version ©2008 AGNIonline. For more of Diane’s work, see Publications.

“I want to fling myself there, but even from this height I cannot see past the invisible distance where the Baltic is free from the net of the archipelago....”

I raise the vinyl shade and look out the plane window, golden clouds, deep blue sky, the sun in her circle at the top of the world. The light blazes across the darkened plane and the sleeping passengers and I pull the shade closed. On the video monitor our tiny illuminated plane flies over the Scandinavian Peninsula on its way to Stockholm. All around me the Swedes slumber on. I have never been on a plane with such quiet passengers. They hummed like bees through the preflight and dinner and then tucked themselves under the thin, scratchy blankets and fell right to sleep. Beside me sleeps the man whose life I am crossing the Atlantic to join....

Read more from ‘The Invisible Distance’, first published in The Louisville Review 61, ©2007. Selected as a ‘Notable Essay’ in The Best American Essays 2008 (Ed. Adam Gopnik, ISBN 0618983228). For more of Diane’s work, see Publications.

“I have traveled a little on my own and it was dangerous, because nothing is as attractive as unattended youth with all its arrogance and naiveté.”

Bruce Chatwin is long dead, but I keep coming across his photograph and his writing in old magazines, like postcards delayed and finally delivered when the traveler himself has gone on. Then I found Chatwin’s posthumous book, What Am I Doing Here, his ironic echo from the other side of the Styx. I never met Chatwin, although I would have liked to, and would have one day probably screwed enough courage together to write him, but that was years ago, and how many wishes travel and never arrive....

Read more from ‘The Far Gaze’, first published in Cimarron Review 157, ©2006. For more of Diane’s work, see Publications.

Contact Diane

phone 022 510 2910 in New Zealand
phone +64 225 102 910 for international calls