Lettering

Dear Michael, Dear Jonathan, Dear Scott, Dear Laurie, Dear Lydia, Dear Sam; Dear Meghann, Dear Summer, Dear Tyler and Karl; Dear Edie, Dear Sara, Dear Mari; Dear Albert, Dear Paul, Dear Denise; Dear Tristan, Dear Aidan, Dear William; Dear Andy, Dear Pippin, Dear James; Dear Timothy, Dear Jada, Dear all of you who save my life from time to time, by being:

Perhaps I should not own a phone.  It’s Short Message Service, in my employ, allows a nearly ubiquitous, immediate reach of the text, from my thumbs.

Thank you for telling me about the exhibition, I have the retrospective tome near me even now, attempting to go in and near the two-dimensional images on paper.  It is not the same as being present to the sculptures and paintings, their ambience.  But now I know I could not move around them, nor touch them, I’d have only to use my eyes and very little of my body.

This obsession with connection.  Once I would have had to go to work unlinked to any of you for hours at a time.  Once my going home would mean your absence unless we arranged for sharing space and time.  Now I reach, I report, I ask and beg, and enter your lives like someone shoving a newspaper, pamphlet or flyer into your hands at will – without contact – propaganda blaring from speakerless speakers.

Your mails and email show deference and thought.  I am happy to have your works near at hand to consult and resort to time and again.  I see the care in the hand-writing, the pacing of thoughts, the reasoning reflection, the sense of your audience.  They lie about me on the floor, I can feel them, turn them, taste them if I wish.

Your phone makes a hum or a buzz.  An ejaculatory missive from Filbert again.  He’s lonely, he’s excited, he’s drunk.  He wants to share.  He needs to share.  He needs communique.  He wants connection.  He is not thinking of us, he suffers the duress of himself.  He spouts, he shouts, he slurs.  He insists he needs solitude and rest, needs quiet, less public.  At any hour, at all hours, these textual packets flow.

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

Where do the gaps that make the heart grow fonder bloom?  What is banal and what evental?

Thank you for your poem.  I will read it again and again.  Thank you for that clip of music, I repeat it throughout the days, when the mood demands an answer.  Thank you for your books, your artifacts, your gardens, your hands.  Thank you for your eye-contact (those of you I’ve sat or walked, camped or climbed with).  Thank you for the melodies of your particular voices.  Thank you for your hugs, your nourishing, your care.  Your listening.

I do remember the ground there, how it fell away desperately or rose violently into sky.  What the birds did.  Where the fire flowed.  Yes, the leaves.  Yes, the sleeping bags.  Here’s to the unknown trails, the stumbling, to whatever’s discovered.

I am sorry I flood your phones with less than thoughtful driveling – explosions of fear, anxiety, want.  Am I alone?  Am I alone?  Do I matter?  Does anyone want my voice?  Am I also missed?  But also love.  Yes, sometimes I merely wish to tell you the difference you make to being alive, that I feel you out there, somewhere…

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

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Cabin Reflections

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“Penelope remembers having read that of all the liquids and fluids produced by the human body – sweat, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva – tears are the only one without any trace of DNA… Impossible to identify someone from their tears, we’re all identical when we weep despite the many different reasons we have for weeping, something like that.  Unlike unhappiness, tears don’t set us apart, they make us the same.”

Rodrigo Fresan, “The Invented Part”

Last week I spent with my four offspring at a cabin on the Pikes Peak Massif in Colorado.  Mostly I register grief and loss in my experience of living… but interestingly enough, the first entry of my vacation journal begins with the simple sentence “I’m happy.”  Unqualified, that’s it – myself + my offspring + a rich world reeking of “no service” and untellable beauty… “I’m happy.”  Here are some notes I made throughout the week:

Simple things innerheard during cabin stay:

The stars: “We can’t tell the difference: between light or dark, death or what remains.”

The streams: “Where have we come from, where are we going? / Where we have come from, where we are going.”

Growing things (grass, moss, wildflowers, mushrooms, wild berries, etc…): “Not yet, not yet.  Who knows?”

The rocks, the boulders: “Once upon a time.  Now.”

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The mountain(s): “Maybe.  May Be.”

The cabin:  “Us.  Here.  We.  With.  Hold.”

Phrases of my children:

  • “It’s good to live this way once in awhile.”
  • “Why do we leave here, ever?  I never want to.  What is have to?”
  • “Dad, everything here is your ‘favorite‘.

And me:

  • “Nothing is like this.  Nothing… Belonging, I belong.  Time changes, it’s different here.  As if there isn’t.  THIS PLACE IS ‘BEAUTY’ TO ME.  THIS PLACE IS WORTH MY LIFE.”
  • on climbing: “I’m a dad: we ALL make it, or none of us really do.”
  • on love: “If I say ‘I love you’ – please don’t hear it as worship, as inordinate.  In love we see the ‘too much‘ of the other – that which is always beyond our own reach, the ‘too much’ in each of us we struggle with, and seem to be unable to assimilate or observe in mirrors of our own.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons the conundrum we call ‘love’ exists?

Addresses to my children and loved ones:

  • To T: “Always beware of logic – our fabricated things.  What we may wish toward but doesn’t make matter.”
  • To A: “Recall.  There are differences.  Beware.  There are openings for more life.”
  • To I: “You have it.  You carry your own water.  Your own dreams.  Your own beginnings.”
  • To O: “Heroes also may shrink you, diminish, contain.  You are deeply your own.”
  • To H: “Never mind.  I am not the one who can conquer it in you.  I believe someone will.”
  • To ?: “I love you.  Like literature: the possible of life.  Impossible.”

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Thank you mountains, rocks, growing things, streams….

There, Thank You

sketch by Hallie Linnebur
sketch by Hallie Linnebur

There’s this first thing.  And then the side of it.  The underside.  Maybe a knot.

My shirt looks like a dress.

A darkness that comes open.  A light controlled by dimmer switch.

It’s just work.  Effort.  The cost of paying attention.  No end of account.

Start with what you might call a “feeling.”  Continue that way.  And move on.  Navigable hunch.

The roles are flipped.

And flipped again.

Flip-flop, padding along.

Topside.

I don’t remember much, but it all comes with.  Sometimes called “effects.”

Affect.  I perceive.

I watch her move, and move, and move again.  I listen.  I smell.  I wish to touch.  I like to learn.  I don’t know what.  Just find out.  It doesn’t happen.  Well, sometimes.  But not as often as I wish.

I don’t know what the wishes are.

If that’s not true, then I don’t understand.

Over.  Under.  Stand.  Other sides.

When most accurate, I breathe.  Just that, and staying there, I follow.

Staying as a sort of plodding.  A moving.  A padding along.

It seems that sounds compete.  But they collapse, constructing more.

If sights and sounds were all.  Or,

If there was a difference.

A word was used – was “murky.”

I touch the curves.  I’m searching edges.

The switch dims and brightens, dims again, brightens.

Something.  And then the side of it.  Another side.  A knot.

Outside being inside, dims and brightens, inside-out again.  Staying there.

An old and thankful argument.  To whom?  For what?  To what?  For whom?  And so on.

Or just affect.  And staying there, I move along.  And I am thankful.