Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not So Much A Limbering-up But The Dance Itself

In the moonlight ("our wedding house shone") his hands look alien to him - closer to fins, objects that don't belong to him and over which he exercises no control. Or they appear to be filled with blood, dried blood or cemetery soil (cemetery soul he first wrote) packed into the jagged creases that a fortune-teller once said forecast a long life but jagged and painful.

He remembered wishing (with the intensity of prayer) that his Grandfather would die so he wouldn't have to visit him the next day (and in the dream his Grandfather appeared as a large round moon floating sadly in the darkness), and that was exactly what happened, and how as a child he had a dream (of a trainyard, the cars standing in a solemn line, and near the tracks a single colorful flower which when picked would mean his father's death) and wondered could he choose to dream it. Could he kill both his Father and Grandfather and then what would that mean for his son. Would his son dream his death one day, or want to.

Yet he recalled - his hands draped like white spoons across his moonlit lap, his mouth hanging open in what might be described as horror - that his heart opened, it flowered, when his son came running to him. Did his father feel that way? Did the flowering ever stop? He felt suddenly as if he were the most fragile link in an otherwise sturdy chain, and the thought tired him so that he went to bed, but not before visiting each of his sleeping children, and muttering in the forgiving dark small prayers that he would be embarrassed to recount in daylight.

His dreams then did not include any trainyards ("the car dealers were like ghost towns"), nor anything memorable, though each time he rose out of them (to pee, to touch his wife's shoulder, to see where the dogs were) he had a feeling that this last one was surely one to write about.

Oddly, the whole night was filled with the simple awareness that he was at last content. That after years of confused longing, of angry searching, of futile maneuvering, he was happy. Or happy was maybe the wrong word - it implied too much about balloons and cake and bright sunny days. He felt that a door had closed, or an envelope been sealed and mailed, and that he had no need any longer of what lay in those now inaccessible containers. He saw a maple tree out front - the one that he often thought he should have taken down - and realized it was the oldest tree on the road, certainly within sight, and his heart stirred then, for the tree it stirred, like a fist unclenching in a bath of warm oil.

Ah . . . he disliked that last image - be done with fists, he thought. And took note of something Charles Bernstein said (paraphrased) about "models of representation" - the form that a work takes ((maybe assumes is a better word) - for example "my iron father/never canoed with me/over fields of masculine epiphany"), i.e., that's not actually getting any closer to issues of the father because it uses a traditional model (or mode) - and works that challenge those models, that discard them, explode them, bypass them entirely, "risk being more inaudible than ever."

The reason he thought that - one reason anyway - was that he had been writing twenty lines a day, and the form appealed to him. It called out of him certain kinds of writing - disciplined, exploratory, somehow blessed - and his brain moved in pleasing ways trying to fill the designated container. And he wondered, in light of the new contentment, if the so-called twenty lines (actually sentences) were not so much a limbering-up but the dance itself.

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