Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My dance card is full

I've just been reading a book of essays given to me by Hashem. It's a collection of ponderings of contemporary authors on the "future of writing," in all its ambiguity ("writing," "future," and "future of writing").

For me, a book, in whatever form it takes--hardbound copy, paperback, electronic version, online instrument, text downloaded on a cell phone, even a story read orally--a book is actually a place, a place where we, as adults, still have the chance to engage in active imagining, translating word to image, connecting these images to memories, dreams, and larger ideas.
--Joe Meno, "A book is a place"

As I was reading on, I hit a slightly less engaging piece and began to glaze over a bit. Thinking of potential non-dog-earing bookmarks, I thought of my friend the post-it. And then I was overcome by one of the most visceral memories I've had in a long time.

I don't know who it was, or when, but I saw the hands of a teacher, removing the post-it from her page and replacing it in a later page, sliding her thumb gently across the sticky edge, and reading aloud to us. The note was never dirty or dingy, but from use had grown a certain softness--one which I only ever speculated about--how soft it looked, how I wished to also run my thumb along it. So thin, against the page.

And then I was taken to other reading memories, like loving the way my teachers would hold books as they turned them around to show the class the pictures. I would practice at home, sometimes holding it away from myself and off to the right even when there were no pictures to show my imaginary audience. I would watch the fingers, how they maneuvered back and forth.

And how, still, there is something about the way certain books and pages feel that takes me straight back to the days before I could even read, but when I would make up my own stories, turning the pages as I went along, joined by family, who always listened so attentively and never called my bluff.

I crave the feeling of a book sometimes more than actually reading it--just to be with it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stage IV

It's tax season;
my friend is dying.

An unexpected visitor
has scared me under the bed
despite my desire to greet him
to curl up at his feet
and watch movies
during the last days

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the neighborhood

So friendly, the regulars
people who mail packages more than once a year
or who pick up social security checks even more often

the line was long and slow-moving
but I didn't mind
so friendly, the regulars
I felt as if I were on the set of Cheers
the workers behind plexi glass, the bartenders,
and we, the line members, the live studio audience,
laughing when someone made a joke
loud enough for us to hear

and smiling at the little girl who asks her father
until she is heard,
"can I go up?"
and finally he asks, "Why?"
because all he is doing is sending a package
signing the screen
"To see what you are doing," she reasons
Convinced, he lifts her and holds her with one arm

I thought at first she had asked to grow up
and "to see what you are doing" seemed like
an equally compelling argument

Funeral Home I

I can't say I felt entirely proud
or sure of how to act--
"Just check on her in the morning," i had been told
"make sure her mouth isn't open
or anything like that."

I played words games on the internet
in a back office
while Ina lay in the viewing room
as her obviously penurious and narcotized children
wandered in to visit

"I want to kiss her goodbye"

"I don't know if I can do this"

no one came together
everyone came alone


It is clear that he just bought the composition book. Maybe the pen, too. I look up from my writing to find an old man doing the same. He leans back and puts his hand to his chin, pondering what he has just put down with that semi-philosophical, wholly intellectual look. His body is turned toward me slightly, his book leaning against his leg, even though he sits at a table with plenty of unoccupied space. I can't help but wonder if he wants me to take note of his practice. A secret with for writers to come together, to notice what's been and being written that will probably never be read--or not what's being written, but that it is being written--in an understanding of their mutual loneliness. It is lonely, isn't it?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

this really happened

he did it again
despite his brother yanking him back and slapping him in the face,
and despite our murmurs of
"that kid's gonna get hit by a car"

i had turned my head

it's a peculiar sound
that can only be made by a hundred pounds of little boy

i watched in slow motion
the legs coming up as spokes on a turning wheel,
and a baseball hat that stayed put
where he was at the start
like a character in an old cartoon
whose hat remains suspended in mid-air
after he runs away at lightning speed

it's amazing how judgment is suspended
when the thing you said you knew would happen

how at this moment no one says "that kid's gonna get hit by a car"
or "he shouldn't do that" or "I wonder what kind of parents he has"
when the older brother runs to the younger brother
and lifts him, not knowing what to do
and hears the yelled directions of women standing on the corner
"don't touch him"

eventually, he cries
and i am relieved and so sad