Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vast Embrace

i. Bird nests in the brambles cup chalices of snow. A scrap of blue scarf caught. (The tenderness of the scrap.)

ii. When I was a kid, I thought it would be fun to walk the plank of a pirate ship. I could swim. Danger was a foreign concept. Figured I’d bob in the water until the ship was out of sight, then head for shore. I’d show those pirates.

iii. Letter from my brother, age 10: Dear Donna, How are you? I’m doing very good. It’s only 11 days till you get here, and I’m still counting. Ever since Momy said I could type on your old typewriter I have been on a craze for typing. The office had a new typewriter. IT was great typing on it. It could type any way you wanted, because you can change this little ball-like object with different types of lettering. When I first started yesterday I was using one finger, and now I almost now the key-board by hart, and am using two hands, pinkies and all….. PLEASE WRITE (type) back soon. (if possible in my name) LOVE ROBERT

iv. Envelope saved from my brother, age 23. Scrawled on the outside, to the postman: PLEASE DO NOT BEND THESE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS OF OUR NEW SON. HE WAS BORN ON NOV 9TH. WE LOVE HIM A LOT!!

v. My brother is deployed to Iraq. We write messages in ink on the insides of orange rinds, leave them in each other’s pockets. When I find one in the future it reads: I will always meet you someplace else.

vi. “What are the two most important parts of an essay?” I ask. In unison, the class responds: “Openings and conclusions.” “Is it okay to bend the truth, twist the truth, leave out details or add details to the truth?” I ask. They fidget.

vii. His boy is 16. He thumb-texts. On my answering machine, saved messages cover his whole life. Hear his voice crack. Hear his voice change. I made the team, he says. Would you read this poem I wrote, he says. Call me back, he says.

viii. Nabokov, in the story with the funeral: “And I want to rise up, throw my arms open for a vast embrace, address an ample, luminous discourse to the invisible crowds. I would start like this:


x. (The tenderness of the scrap.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

The icicles outside the front door are dripping. Where the drops land in the snow it looks like constellations, shallow indentations that seem significant, like if I recognized the language I could understand the meaning.

Next door, the little neighbor boy is shoveling snow onto his dog. The orange plastic shovel is bigger than the boy, and he finds it unwieldy because of its size but also because he is bundled in a fat jacket and snow pants. He and the dog are playing a game, and the game is called Joy. He scrapes up some light snow, tries to lift the shovel over his head – he’s only about 3 years old – and dumps the snow onto the dog’s ears or back or tail. The dog yips and leaps and the boy laughs. And then they do it again.

Outside in the yard, fallen branches poke up out of the snow. They look like skinny arms reaching toward the sky. It’s as though a contingent of stick figures was buried in the drifts, and the rescue party has yet to locate them.

I’m reading a book about writing memoir, and the famous author says “Voice is everything.” Another well-known writer says “Point of view is everything.” Sometimes I hear myself telling my students "Theme is everything." Really, I think nothing is everything.

But many things are enough.