Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Bend in the River

It's been five years, and we're leaving.

Leaving- a word with so many lobes and limbs.

One of these- though it doesn't become obvious until you actually leave, do the deed, pull up stakes, get gone-  is arrival, the way its memory flares up like a rash.

You may not think you remember arriving, but you do, and suddenly it's all over your body.  I remember it was summer then, too, late July, and I was sick to leave -quite literally sick: feverish and puking and late and alone and driving badly.

I was (am?) a terrible driver, dangerously cautious, epically unreliable, trundling up and down the mountains with my heart yammering and the wheel welded to my hands.  I pissed off truck drivers, obeyed every advisory speed limit, missed the exit and missed the exit and finally, finally-  arrived.

Miles up from the river, the crepe myrtle burst from the trees.  There was heat and sweat, mosquitoes and flat, slick sidewalks and a scatter of fireflies drawling their way toward dusk.  Our new home was five rooms, 700 square feet.  Plus a side porch, the joy of the apartment, upon which we perched every evening, swatting our legs and sipping our drinks.

It is idyllic only in hindsight, glowing under the shellac of memory.

And maybe this leaving, too, will seem, in some faraway pass of my life, sweet.

The boxing and and unboxing and the great sloughing off the pieces of your life, bits of your past falling away until you're not sure they happened to you -or if they happened at all.

Until suddenly -or not so suddenly- you're in transit.  Or some facsimile of you is in transit-

because without the hard mold of your former life you can't seem to keep hold on your own outlines; you blur and run and bleed and waver until you're left with a name and a number and a body on its way to-

Sunday, May 24, 2015


To do: So much.  This is different than so much to do- fewer possibilities, more bite.

Friday, May 22, 2015


  • Facebook's new memories feature, in which your past curation of your life comes back to haunt you, is both sobering and intoxicating.  How little we remember -and sloppily.
  • Someone knows what you want to know.  
  • Cafeteria breakfasts, with their panoply of options, alimentary divagations like creeks splitting off from the great ocher river of AM nosh, are where it's at.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I Was Here; and Gone

We understand mortality when we understand that there are books we should read- but won't.

North Garden, VA; Ann Arbor, MI.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It is tough to take on the world's larger philosophical quandries when your window is filled with flowers.

We have no talent for scale, we humans.  It's probably for the best.  If we were able to hold in our hearts the proper measurements of each disaster, we'd be worse than useless- and we're already only a few notches north of decorative.  Give us a sense of of the relative importance of this versus that, we'd drool and gibber and vomit chunks of climate change rhetoric.  GO BACK!  SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE!  WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Instead we thumbs-up that Onion article on Facebook and fortify our positions on fractions of eighth notes and stare at our windows filled with flowers.  And then we finger, like a rosary, all the the small disasters of our lives: the bug bites and the missed busses and the lost opportunities, that ache in your knee and the continued erosion of my skin.

Two downward strokes, in the middle of my forehead, punctuation to no point.

Earthquakes, cancer, the despoilment of the sea, homes ripped from their moorings, ISIS ebola, peak oil.

Those flowers- clusters of white, loose, fragrant, butting up against the glass.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


It is unaccountably lovely to see your parents playing with your children.  Not least because the time during which you are able to witness this is so brief.  A candle's worth of overlap, quick flare of one life against the next. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

There, There

The waggle -pleasantly unpleasant of a loose tooth, the catch and scratch of wool against your skin, the bounce in the step the lover you can't have.

I resort to metaphor because this thing, my consuming lust for place, is unspeakable.  Not unspeakable in the sense of shameful, but unspeakable as in we -simply?- don't speak of it.  Friends don't mention it.  Literature leaves me hanging.   Am I the only one?

I try to rein it in with adjectives: My desire for this place is obsessive and exuberant, fine-grained and big-boned, anxious and ecstatic.  I ache for my place when I'm away; I ache for my place when I'm home.  The press of it, the weight of its memories, is in my mouth and on my hands and in my head -my place with its taproot and its branches and its bright bursts of green and flame.

More metaphor.  Can't we speak plainly?   I love this town.  I want to be here.  I can't.  It hurts.

I try to walk it off.   But walking is how you make love to a place, how you press and impress and are pressed and impressed until you can't tell what from where.

As always, I land here.  Some particular corner of there and then: the road I rode so fast my bike went head over heels and left me half-dipped in blood; the wilderness I dreamed behind the wire and scrub; where I went to cry at 19 and at 9 and 26.   Sometimes there were berries.  I haven't seen the spot in years.

Still, it hurts.