Tigers in Red Weather: the origins of the title

25 July 2012

Liza Klaussmann borrowed her title from a poem by Wallace Stevens. Here's the passage from the novel which features the poem. 

 

She leaves us in the bathroom and returns with the book. “Wallace Stevens,” she says and shows me the cover. “All right, let’s see.” She flips through the book, smiling slightly at something on the page. “Oh, I love this one,” she says. She leans against the wall and begins speaking: “The houses are haunted / By white night-gowns.”

I listen to the sound of her voice and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever heard. So clear and true and steady. I want to say the words with her. I try to force air up through my throat. Nothing happens.

“None are green / Or purple with green rings / Or green with yellow rings,” she says. “None of them are strange.”

I try again and this time I manage to make a small gurgle, although no one can hear it because of the water running in the sink. But I can hear it.

“People are not going / To dream of baboons and periwinkles,” Daisy says.

I look at her. I can hear her.

“Only, here and there, an old sailor, / Drunk and asleep in his boots, / Catches tigers / In red weather.”

She looks at me. Her eyes are a little shiny, although it may be the steam from the water. I think about love and about all the nightgowns that are not white. I think about Aunt Nick, and Frank Wilcox, and even about Uncle Hughes. I think about Daisy and her book of poems. I think about tigers in red weather. I like that.

You may also like