Friday, March 26, 2021

The Surface World is Spring

“Tell me what you forget, and I will tell you who you are.” (Augé) They lie in wait, these forgettings. Not forgotten things, but the gerund that drives the car, avoiding all the after-storm potholes until one day it forgets to attend. Memory’s sink-hole appears, swallowing asphalt, parts of a sidewalk, a house, a small red trike. What appears to be absence (the hole) is substance. I knew it was there, but had not seen it in so long.

The surface world must be Spring. Daffodils, tulips, the carefully trimmed courtyards. She asked for a leave of absence, twitter tells me, but was denied. Spring contains our death, though it does not advertise it. Its flashy spread points more to cars to buy, the long and even road to drive them down. I borrowed a friend’s Volkswagen bug for one of my fugues. Connecticut in the wet dark.

Even the hole says there’s a future. Where do you put us, the young plants, the flowers, the monuments? I make words of my holes, as I bike around them, hoping not to teeter and fall in. Again. Words fill the holes, but they are like the rubber balls in a party castle. They never amount to a floor, only something like the wave that approaches and then goes home again.

What do you learn from your piece of charcoal? I ask my artist student. I don’t want to know that it’s only there to make your art.

Sometimes you don’t want to go there, sometimes it’s better to take a holiday from the hole, find a high point to stand on, a kind of reverse hole that holds you up high so you can see brightly colored balls circulating on the lawn. I saw that from Branford Tower, but the balls were students playing a game below me. From Diamond Head the cricket players became egrets, dancing in the park.

Yes, I tell Carla, melancholia drove my memory system. It’s the mechanism of retrieval, but out of control, leaving wide tracks on the road before a shoulder offers some it comfort. Who decided to mix the metaphors of the body with the road? It’s a system without a brain, like fungi or the octopus that, nonetheless, knows how to escape its tank. Nothing is less predictable than traffic patterns.

No filter. But still the eye hole, the mnemonic for a depression in the earth. Still the car swerves toward its mouth. An axle breaks, and so does the sky above you, lit in gray and white and blue like the flag to no country at all. I take still photos of impermanence. Buddha behind a rusty gate, abstract expressionist rust, Rusty a dog I adored.

Don’t start from wisdom, I tell another student, because no one else will find it without the object that was your muse. The guitar told him he couldn’t play that way. The surfboard said it couldn’t go straight down the wave. The screw is loose, but it knows where it fits. So what object gets you there, I ask. A cookie! We talk about how it crumbles.

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