Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I want to write an honest sentence

I want to write an honest sentence. There was a week when I realized my life was populated nearly as much by the dead as by the living. It was a week of crossing from abstraction into decay. Memory, like entropy, is either too little or too much, or both huddled in the cloak of the other. There was always the element of surprise. Most included denial, hence the shadow of a bearded man holding a cigar that passed across the television screen—not the corrupt lawyer on a Manhattan street, but the Viennese father of another mafia. His indexes were sheer entertainment: look up “pulled tooth”! Look up “dream of swimming!” They're more forward-looking now, because what's done is done and all you can do is watch videos about how happiness isn't guaranteed, a kind of Kahn Academy for the Soul. When I said I knew that, he gave me hand-outs instead, under the guise that I prefer words to images, my own voice in my own head rather than that of a cartoon character dancing on a computer screen. The apothecary shop in Hannibal, Missouri had the best name, I thought. He lifted me above the steamboat's turning wheel and I saw water falling from blade to blade. We'll keep Twain out of it, my friend said, because he takes up so much room. But no tourist was cursed for taking Twain curios from the shops, or because she read his essays from a passing ship. The extent to which that “I” is myself I can't fathom, except to say it's not projected on a Trump hotel like accusations of corruption, but ripens in my cranium (vocabulary word of the other day). Half-lives or three-quarter lives or the lives that come to meet you on the “more is more” plan, then after a few days home, disappear. It was a painless death, we're told. Or, he spent years suffering, but never complained. Or, she never told her old friends because she didn't want them to worry (was that it?) Whatever it was, narrative cracked like an egg and yolk ran red across a black frying pan, day after day, until we noted a fixed pattern of astonishment. I will sit down to write my cards to loved ones, aching to make voluntary what I already set down beside the road. They call that a shoulder. The old woman carried her shoulders like a thick ice pack; my dog ran to her and lifted brown eyes up. She leaned to pet the dog. “Sad poppet,” Marthe said, when Lilith lay down beside her. Grief's puppets bow to gravity, and this stage.
17 April 2018

1 comment:

Amy Scott-Zerr said...

I like that turn of phrase, 'my own voice in my own head.'