Ellen Pall is the author of a dozen novels, including Among the Ginzburgs, Corpse de Ballet, and, under the pseudonym Fiona Hill, a suite of Regency Romances. She has also been a frequent contributor to the arts pages of The New York Times. (August 2020)

NYR DAILY

To Recover Mother

Félix Édouard Vallotton: The Ball (Corner of the park with child playing with a ball), 1899

In my brooding, it occurred to me that much of the knowledge I’d lost of my mother had nothing to do with any particular excursion we’d had or pastime we’d shared. Instead, it was exactly those myriad daily interactions, all of them physical, many preverbal, that I was missing. The feel of her hands, the scent of her skin, the sound of her laughter were sensations I’d absorbed without words, and they were buried in my body. And so I decided to try to unearth what I could of its secret knowledge.