Sara Baume reading from her novel A Line Made By Walking


I’m Sara Baum, and this is from close to
the beginning of A Line Made By Walking. My grandmother died during a gloomy
October, as one ought, three October’s ago. On the night she died the tail of a
hurricane made landfall. It was called Antonio and had traveled all the way from Bermuda. It felled a tree which dragged down a wire and put out the lights across half the parish. Then the tree lay wretched on the ground,
strangled by electric cable and blocking the road which led up the hill to her bungalow. My mother and aunts were trapped inside, but I wasn’t there and mum didn’t phone until a couple of hours later. I was at work in a contemporary
art gallery in Dublin. Painting over the previous day’s scuff marks as I did every morning. Transforming the tarnished white into brilliant again. Even though I had been expecting the call, I didn’t pick up immediately. Even though I had been expecting my grandmother to die, I couldn’t believe it might happen in the morning. For several rings my polyphonic ‘Radetzky March’ echoed irreverently around the
exhibition space. When at last I answered, my mother confessed she hadn’t called me straightaway. And so my grandmother died in the night after all, as one should. No change in the light. A temporary sleep becomes permanent. Antonio passed on and men from the County Council came in their dump truck to clear the road. By the time my Fiesta climbed her hill there were only broken bits of tree left
scattered and a great wiggly hole in the earth where it had stood. I stole a branch from amongst the mess; I stole a branch because I loved that
tree; I loved that tree because it had acknowledged my grandmother’s radiant yet under-celebrated life by momentously uprooting itself.

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