Monday
Apr282014

Raising Feminist Kids

Feminism is a word that represents such a vast (and often conflicting) array of meanings, that, no matter how much you’ve read, it’s hard to know what you’re thinking and talking about when you’re thinking and talking about Feminism. And I should say it straight up in the first paragraph that I’m certainly no expert in terms of the many and varied nuances of feminist theory. I mean, hey, I like to think of myself as open-minded (who doesn’t?) but it’s often made clear to me that, as a result of my lifelong vision of the world from the perspective of white male privilege, I suffer from blind spots that make it either impossible or extremely difficult for me to imagine or understand the phenomenology of being a woman and/or any other victim of systematic social oppression. Now that insight doesn’t always occur to me as easily as I just typed it. When confronted by new insights, I get defensive, I resist, I stew, and I grimace until I’m finally able to see that I can’t see, that dwelling in privilege necessarily occurs on a foundation of blindness that is never magically cured by good intentions.

With that said, I have good intentions. I have a son and a daughter and a responsibility to wonder: How can I raise these kids with an eye toward a world that is kinder to women? Some of my kneejerk responses are that I should instill within my son a conscious respect for women, based in the awareness that being a woman entails experiences and struggles to which boys and men are never subjected and scarcely aware, and to teach my daughter that she’s beautiful no matter what, that how she looks need not be measured against unrealistic cultural constructs of beauty. Good starts, maybe, but there is further to go.

Being a man with a son, certainly, I’d like to raise him in such a way that he is sensitive to women’s issues and willing to play a part in the creation of a world in which women are confronted by less and less hostility. However, I’d also like to see the inverse of his kindness toward women manifest itself as outright activism when it comes to other men and our attitudes toward women. Above and beyond a revolution in our own sensibilities regarding women, men must up the ante by demanding the same in other men and by raising sons who are willing to make the same demands. This might mean something as simple as informing a friend that it’s totally not cool to call a woman a bitch. It could also mean the willingness to risk the use of force to put a stop to a sexual assault in progress. What I’m talking about is the exact opposite of the longstanding male tradition of looking away from misogyny and getting right up in its face. The logical extension of our “enlightened” views and good intentions is to risk our good standing among our fellows and demand some changes.

But what could possibly be wrong with celebrating my daughter’s beauty with no regard for its proximity to our culture’s twisted ideal of beauty? Well, what’s wrong with emphasizing our daughters as beautiful (no matter what) is that it overlooks and blocks us off from a pressing question about how we’re inclined to see women in the first place. Why is it that, as we nobly hope to revise what beautiful means, beauty remains, entrenched and unquestioned, the lens through which we apprehend women? Imagine the freedom we could reveal for our daughters if, instead of building more expansive prisons of beauty (“Everyone’s beautiful!”; “We’re beautiful in our own way!”; “We’re pretty on the inside!”), we knocked down the walls and granted them escape entirely from the shackles of this torturous adjective.

Our daughters deserve better adjectives. This is to say that we need nothing short of a revolution in consciousness in terms of the way we see and understand women. Think not? Observe for yourself for a single day what constitutes the first, the highest, and most frequent form of compliment doled out to women (indeed, from men and women alike) on television, in print, social media, and your day to day life. You’re beautiful. So pretty. Radiant. Gorgeous. Hottie. Love that dress. OMG your hair! Etc. Our damn near singular relationship to women as such is via their appearance and how their appearance shores up with beauty.

Our daughters deserve better adjectives. New modes from which to appear. Feminism as that which frees the female from a primarily seen and assessed object. But then what would she be? Sure, intelligent, funny, yeah, okay. But, further, adjectives personal to her, individual, that articulate her singular coming forth to girl in the world, not measured with scales of beauty, but apprehended as an expression of the unique explosion of forces that she was called to announce.

Originally published in Brain, Child Magazine

Tuesday
Apr222014

Lost in the Woods

It’s true that when I write I often misrepresent myself with confident declarative statements that appear to stand firmly on a bedrock of surety. But to know me, in a world among things and events as they happen, is to know a mostly quiet man who, when he does speak, usually stutters something about not knowing or the impossibility of knowing anything, which itself sounds much too excessively certain so I return to keeping my mouth shut to revel in the stunned awe of wondering shit.

Like, we’re supposedly these people, right? And we do things and there’s a sun and you lost me. I have always both envied and felt compassion for people who know what the hell they’re doing. When my alarm goes off, I’m amazed by how I just appeared in a bed and I have hands. And then people want to talk about gun control or sports and I just want to show them what happens when I close my eyes. Everything disappears.

I will sometimes say I love a woman named Gwen but I don’t know for sure what that means. I think that perhaps loving her might merely be a stand in for taking great pleasure in wondering and wandering with her. Gwen is a really good wonderer with great hands. A couple days ago we took a walk in the woods to look for a waterfall and got lost and it occurred to me, right then, that I loved her more than I did before. I had no idea why this should be so, but nonetheless I couldn’t deny that the experience I call being in love with Gwen—it grew. I was so purely glad to be with her and this gladness presented itself as a tender increase of fondness.

I am tempted now to describe her as we wandered through the woods but I’m wary of locating the experience solely in her appearance. She, as she appeared, was indeed the object of my affection but my affection itself was an event, an event in which she—being more of an event herself than an object—was entangled, and not just then, but it did however happen to be then when it culminated. She wore these cool as hell burgundy athletic shoes. See? I am not here trying to tell you that Gwen’s shoes made me swoon. But they were super cool and her black yoga pants flared at the ankle where they were bedazzled with gold swirls that really worked with those burgundy shoes.

And her tank top was not as much about her tank top as it was about the revelation of her freckled shoulders, which dip into blades that you can only see for a moment before you think about things like wings and flight and morning light. Gwen is lithe. She makes me want to say things like ballerina and porcelain figurine and wispy. Do you see now how she’s not just an object but a rich field of relational meaning?

We saw a snake. She asked if I wanted her to pick it up and I said, no, that I did not want her to pick it up. And, as I followed her through the woods, I thought about her childhood in the Borneo jungle and wondered if maybe my sense of falling more deeply in love with her was somehow related to being with her in this setting, if I was perhaps now having a more sincere experience of her, for was she not more clearly herself while wandering along meandering trails in the company of pythons (or harmless foot long snakes)? I smiled at the disparity of our childhoods, 9100 miles apart. How unlikely for us to meet. Impossible. And yet there we were, lost in the woods, as I puzzled through what I was feeling.

Is it possible that what we call loving is finding the right person with whom to be lost?

Sunday
Apr132014

Tell Me Something Good

The first cup of coffee. A good joke. The quiet certainty that you’re not alone and that you are loved. Sunrises from behind mountains. Long runs. Chocolate.

My daughter’s teacher called to discuss a classroom display of frustration that didn’t seem to shore up with merely struggling with long division. Something else was bothering her. Something she conceals that builds and builds until she unloads her sublimated wrath on that God awful math. She snapped her pencil and cried and cried and cried some more. Couldn’t be consoled. The teacher took her to a different room until she calmed down.

Movie theaters. Sharp pencils. Finding money in an old jacket. Forgiving. Forgetting. Popcorn.

Autumn explodes in a mad dazzle of fireworks but make no mistake: it’s the finale. It’s already over. And I suppose I keep returning to the metaphor of autumn with the hope of unveiling a graceful end. How, I wonder, can we situate death in a good story that’s beautiful? I have snapped my own share of pencils. It’s inherited. This frustration. These tears. And never knowing for certain what’s really wrong. Math’s giving her a hard time, yes, the teacher said, but she also let it slip that she misses her daddy.

Holding hands. Cherries. Looking up at a blue sky and feeling somehow boundless. Reading. Writing. Old wives’ tales.

To our delighted surprise, we realize that there’s no ultimate distinction between self and other. The painful experience of being-apart is merely a trick of the ego, itself the result of an illusion—some Great Reality mistaking itself for a smaller reality that often takes itself way too seriously. For an I is a you and the rest of it too. Unfortunately, however, our insights into ultimacy are ultimately fleeting. Being so stubbornly subjected to our own subjectivity, we find ourselves frequently lonely, afraid, and frustrated by math. We miss our dads. Will, we ask, these wounds ever mend?

The moon. Bridges. The ecstasy of losing one’s self in reverie. Solitude. Silence. Unagi.

The alcoholism recovery people suggest that we make amends to the people we harmed, which is easy if you stole $500 from your old boss because all you do is pay him back. But how do you make amends to your kids for wrecking their family? How do you put that right? I’m of the mind that it can’t be done, that the most I can do is maintain a vigilant attempt to mend the wound, to heal the separation. And this call from her teacher, this report that my daughter is frustrated and misses her daddy, stirred up—again—the issue of amends.

Smiling monks. Forest paths. The way light and shadow converse in a little girl’s hair. Belly laughs. Cold water. Naps.

An old friend, long dead, once, after vomiting blood for the better part of 45 minutes and collapsing on the bathroom floor, asked me to lay down next to him because he was scared. He shook with delirium tremens and cried and we just laid there, knowing he would die. And then from nowhere he said, “Tell me something good.” I peered into the brown sludge of his hopeless eyes and flashed him a counterfeit smile. “Please,” his voice quivered, “tell me something good.” We’re going to win, I told him. We didn’t.

Old photographs of your grandparents. Ice cream. The windows down in August. Devotion. Prayer. Potato chips.

And so, in addition to seeing her three times a week, to make amends, to keep busy with the work of mending, I commit to calling her on the days I don’t see her, to either see her or talk to her every single day. It’s awkward at first. We are often at a loss for words or she responds to my inquiries with single word answers and I flounder, stutter, stop. Until, as if haunted, I demand without thinking, “Tell me something good.” Silence. “Yes, that’s what we’ll do,” I make it up as I go. “It’s my job to call you, but you need a job too, so your job is to, every single day, tell me something good.” Silence. More silence. And then: I have five Jolly Ranchers.

Five Jolly Ranchers. Friendship bracelets. Indian food. A repaired microscope. Substitute teachers.

Autumn explodes in a mad dazzle of fireworks and—yes—it’s all over (nobody wins), but look at that bloody mess of red, orange, and yellow—gasp! Good things. Not a solution or a cure or an attempt at justification, but there nonetheless, always in all ways. And maybe in spite of the despair and the woe and all our lonely missing being-apart—maybe a way toward the real work of the never-ending mending is in the shared discipline of seeking out good things.

____

Originally published in Brain, Child Magazine

Friday
Mar282014

I Understand The Addict's Liquid Cosmology

Today, I’ve been alive for 15,401 days.

*

When I try to imagine your 15,401st day, I see bottles. Lots of bottles and you are drunk. Angry. So angry that you’re crying. Yelling at the startlingly realistic figments of your imagination and I’m undoubtedly one of them. How I wish you would’ve called but that’s a brick walled digression. You are yelling, as you always did. Yelling at your mom, your ex-wife, me—all the people who failed the test you had rigged from the start. Yelling at the sun, the moon, and everything between. Yelling at the way things are, which is to say change, loss, and the relentless continuity of the never same river. You’re yelling at the water just for being water—because it won’t stay put.

I don’t know what song is playing. What books are by your chair?

But I’m familiar with the Buck knife you stabbed into your femoral artery in your inner left thigh. And I’m familiar with Dr. Vincent’s report of the blood stained walls throughout your apartment. When I try to imagine your 15,401st day, I see you—mad, ecstatic, frantic—smearing your hands through your leg’s fountain of blood and painting the walls. My God you are raving. You feel it coming now but, hysterically tenacious, you splash your life on the walls—one last exhibit—for as long as you can manage to hobble, limp, and scream. And because you taught me how to know you more than anyone else in the world, I can hear you, defiant to the last, screaming It’s a good day to die! Come on! Come on! It’s a good day to die! until the dark embraces your rage and they become the same thing.

*

Once, after you were kicked out of a treatment center in Pennsylvania, we stopped at a rest area in Ohio. Standing at the urinal in the wash of too much light—it smacked of an interrogation room—I started to cry, exhausted. What’s wrong? you asked, as if you didn’t know, and all I could bring myself to mutter was that mountains would never be mountains again.

*

I have never believed I would live this long, and so I never acted like it. A basic assumption informing my life has been that, if alcohol and drugs didn’t kill me, I would. I mean, seriously, how are people 42? How do they persist in all this waking up? The prospect of getting dressed, earning money, trading it for consumer goods, and the rest, on and on like an endlessly hungry ghost, seems untenable. But, lately, the image of myself as an old man—at first irritably and then irresistibly—has crept like a thief into the field of what I’m able to imagine. Maybe, I wonder, as this injured foot has stopped me from running, I will have a cane. The thought makes me smile, content. I will sit on a bench and talk to birds. Perhaps with a long white beard. Thinking slow thoughts, floating on memory, and stories—they never stop telling themselves—will seep from the wrinkled creases in my melted face. My eyes will be oceans that trail off into tired crow’s feet. Yes, I finally think, I will be an old man, and I will sit long and still until you can’t tell the difference between my breath and the wind.

And I will laugh! The river, man—it’s okay. Who can blame it for flowing? 

*

Once, when we took you to the woods to dry out, it was getting dark and we were lost. Me and Bryan dropped our packs, kneeled on the trail to study the map, and bickered about directions. I said left and he said right and when we looked up to consult you, you were crying, exhausted. What’s wrong? we asked, as if we didn’t know, and you said it was nothing, that you just appreciated our efforts to help you find the way.

*

I suppose it’s time now, today, to ask for your forgiveness, to make amends, and seek your permission, in spite of my failures, to become an old man. I was certainly not the best friend I could be. When you stormed off that day—the last day I saw you—I let you go, and I was relieved. I regret that relief. It didn’t hold. And I regret not chasing you into that bar with the same intensity of consideration that I’ve given to chasing you into death.

I regret my ill feelings of hatred.

I regret my failure to merely be your friend apart from the selfish desire to covet your so tenaciously earned magic. You were a seer, a poet, a force the likes of which few among us will ever cross paths—let alone be invited to study with. I am sorry that I failed in my role as your pupil to learn how to transcend that role and just be your friend. You deserved a friend. But I was greedy and selfish. I regret myself. So like an ice cube on a sidewalk in July…

*

There are ways and there are ways.

*

Some kids are walking a dog and the sun is setting. An old woman gets her mail and I remember something you said about Rilke by the refrigerator. It all comes together. I imagine myself sweeping the sidewalk in the midst of all this coming together as I sweep the sidewalk. I sweep up sand, litter, and misplaced pronouns. I don’t know how else to say it. Have I left anything out? I ask you. What can I do to make things right? There is joy in the ordinary work of sweeping.

*

You insist on discussing your faults but I will hear none of it. “I understand the addict’s liquid cosmology.” Words from a poem you wrote that today I sing back to you: I understand the addict’s liquid cosmology. My only wish is to remember and smile. To remain a witness to your life and tell your story. I will talk about you. I will write about you. When I’m an old man with a long white beard and a cane, I will sit on a bench and tell birds about you. And nothing as petty as your death will ever get me to stop talking to you because—guess what—the mountains, brother—they are mountains! And the river, man—it’s okay. Who can blame it for flowing? And there is—there really is!—a way out of the woods.

But this is only a beginning. Tomorrow is when I’ll truly begin to mend my separation from you. When I break through the wall and bring you along into the whole and seamless morning of our 15,402nd day.

 

Friday
Mar212014

A Real Fantasy With My Daughter About Imagination

“I’m bored. So bored. I’m going to die of boredation,” she said in her bed. All the birds, perturbed and concerned, stopped singing.

A door’s slow creak gained in momentum and slammed.

Not a door in the house nor a door in my head, but rather a door between worlds. The kind of door that, when open, confuses things with the clarity of some largeness that confounds. Do you follow? Please do. Come along and don’t worry. We’ll leave a trail of breadcrumbs or popcorn or pearls.

A big orange flower, not yet wilted, is drooping. The dream animals, lost in the desert, are dying of thirst. My little girl is bored. She dangles precariously on the precipice of a reified world of inanimate, impersonal matter.

“Want some candy?” I ask her and hand her a red and white lollipop. There isn’t much time. I check my watch but it’s not on my wrist. No matter. To hell with chronology.

“There’s always time. No rush. No rush,” the turtle mumbles in a slow deep voice as he lumbers lumberingly through the door. “Climb aboard.” We hop on the turtle’s shell, a maze of yellow and brown wherein it’s easy to get lost. We don’t know where we’re going. Nobody does.

I remember you, Lola Blue, on your stomach, straining the just barely able muscles in your neck to lift your wobbly head. I marveled at how you were able, already, to focus and direct all your baby energies into one concentrated act. And why? Why did you so tenaciously will your head off the pillow?

To see. Driven only by the wonder and thrill of the ability to see and all that might be seen.

“Look! It’s raining lemon drops and gummy bears from pink and blue clouds of cotton candy!” she screams, and the turtle sighs. Taking cover, slowly, he heads toward a cave on the side of a mountain as Lola catches candy on her tongue.

The mountain, to put things in perspective, is actually an irritated blemish on the back of a Cosmic Yellow Dog who is said to devour each moment in his voracious maw. It is not known if the Cosmic Yellow Dog is God’s tame pet or if he is wild and incorrigible.

Inside the mountain, the turtle, whose name was Martin, was soon gone. We found ourselves on a playground upon which a gentle snow fell. Lola listened as I stood atop the tall red slide and recited Dylan Thomas. “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age.” The poetry made us feel weird, like we were dreaming, enchanted by the spell of some rhythmic witch.

“Daddy,” she said, “This isn’t real, is it?” The snow turned to tiny pink and yellow flowers that fell in slow motion, twirling humbly to the earth. I felt empty with longing. I wanted to argue about truth and beauty and justice with ancient Greek philosophers. I wanted to keep the door open and stoke the fire.

“Of course it’s real, little girl,” I replied and did a cartwheel.

“But none of this is happening. Not really. Not even this conversation. It’s make believe.”

“But, baby, here we are, you and me—talking.”

“No, Daddy. Not really.” She shook her head but her eyes were wide with hoping.

“Then why do you keep answering me?”

The question caught her off guard and she thought about it. She shook tiny flowers from her yellow hair and thought some more before saying the magic words: “I don’t know.” A choir began to sing. All the prisoners escaped from jail. Reunited lovers embraced and kissed, celebrating ignorance.

“We are strange and mysterious creatures, little girl,” I lectured. “Thrown into the world against our wills—here—there is so much to see and eat and dream. There’s no time. No time for boredom. Boredom begins where your imagination ends. There are too many books to read to possibly be bored. Too much music. Too many poems. Too many worlds waiting to be born, waiting to happen, waiting for you.”

As she became interested in her boredom, the door creaked open. Inside her clenched fist she found a magic silver key. “It’s the secret,” she said, “the secret to everything.” And, without hesitation, she gave it to you.

_____

Originally published in Brain, Child Magazine

Sunday
Mar092014

Between Trees & Poems

When I leave, I borrow books of poetry
to read, yes, of course, but there is more.
Everything wants to be more and it is,
too, but only for those who are willing
to forget themselves and listen bravely,
to hear the stories in the world between
the self and things. There is always music
playing in the bar across the quiet street.
Observe this for yourself. Get still. Look
at a tree. Study it. Be patient. Until she,
shy at first, begins to whisper of leaves
to see if she can trust you. Relax. Believe.
Green leaves will grow, thrive, explode
in throes of gold & yellow & red, and fall
like old memories into the hungry green
grass. Eight silver birds will land on her
branches, sing, and fly away into the blue
sky that shelters the world of gods and
people. When I leave, I borrow her books
of poetry to read on the plane and hear
what they say. More than lines and poems,
they are poems that she once read, alone,
forgetting herself in concentrated effort
to construct meaning. What is more lovely
than somebody reading? In her bed, lit
by lamplight, just past midnight, she drags
her finger down the page, slowly mouthing
the words until she flies away into the
black sky that shelters the world of gods
and people. There are lines, underlined
in pencil, and I trace them with my finger.
Everything wants to be more than it is.
The fragments of glass in her hair shimmer
in the light. She closes the book for the
night and this prize, her solitude, creates
the substance of her strength, her small
smile, and those eyes that see beauty
haunting all the things of this world.

Thursday
Feb272014

Some Ideas About Gwen: A Collage

Start with stained glass. In church. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Flore or the Fraumünster Cathedral or the church you remember, way back when you believed in fantastic things. And then continue with color. Remember those blues? How the sun blasted through, muted but vivified by cobalt. The sharp flower yellows, the glowing heart reds, and the gleam in the twinkle of greens. So bright and yet mildly opaque, as if the stained glass ached to keep the light at bay, but not the lit hum of color. Marc Chagall said a stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world. Stained glass has to be serious and passionate. It is something elevating and exhilarating.

Move next to religious feeling. Don’t bother with truth and other such nonsense, but with the intensity of feeling that swells inside the heart of the fervently religious. The devout devoured in devotion. What are they doing? Singing. Praying. Forgetting. All this in the ambitious light of the sun filtered through the color of stained glass that depicts the imagery of myths—the myths that articulate the fundamental structure of the stories we mistake for our lives. There is sacred feeling here. A sense of the immanent beyond. Everything, connected, conspiring to meet and erupt right here, abandoned, in a devoted song of lit color on glass and a Marc Chagall quote that posits stained glass as the only thing that stands between your heart and the blissfully anguished throb that pumps through the heart of the world.

But what do we do with it? Nothing. It’s a collage. Just let it be. Let the pieces inform one another and, now, grab a rock. 

Throw the rock through a stained glass window and listen closely to the destructive music that underlies all things as they come apart—shattering. I love that word. Say it with me: Shattering. It startles you at first—the initial shock of violent undoing—but then there’s a relieved sigh throughout the ting ding singing of raining glass as it gives way and falls. Do not make the mistake of thinking this negates light and color and church and religion nor even Marc Chagall. There is room for it all. We need sympathy for the Devil, we must smash the transparent partition between our hearts and the world, and—most importantly—we need all those sharp and jagged shards of colorful broken glass because we're making something.

Broken, it is no less serious, passionate, elevating, or exhilarating. It remains all this and more. Because now it’s dangerous. Now beauty—beauty can cut you and make you bleed. Add sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. And rain. Mix well.

My girl is made of razor sharp fragments of discursive intellect that dissects with surgical precision. She’s a song in an old stone church in Florence. Slivers of wit. And rain. Chips and pieces of Indonesia and America and Zurich. A religion that, as the Latin suggests, binds—she binds together the jagged parts of herself and herself to her daughters and her family to the blissfully anguished throb that pumps through the heart of the world. She’s a broken stained glass window sprinkled with sugar. All the colors, the various shades and hues—light blasting through. Her hair is a prayer of sugar. Her lips are all covered with sugar. Devoted. Devout. Devoured. What are we doing? Singing. Praying. Forgetting. It’s love!

Tuesday
Feb112014

Listening To Images

My daughter, just the other day, gave me her 4th Grade school picture and I got that feeling. You know how when you want to say something about rivers, the intangibility of memory, and a fork slicing through a piece of blueberry pie? It’s like that. But only for a second and then it’s not.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Because that feeling? It’s made of images but those images themselves are only symbols for water that slips right through your fingers when you try to grab it. Sometimes the content of the feeling veers away from imagery and seeks to announce itself in sound. I mean, it erupts into words but it yearns rather to be heard as opposed to dwelling in what the words mean. Like, for me, it seems to most often be about the conversation between long e’s. I want to stand on a chair or atop a tall building and yell something like She’s calm seas and bumble bees and the breeze through trees on a Japanese puzzle box. But I never do. And so that feeling stays lodged in my chest, caught in my throat, restless, urgent, waiting to explode.

In the end, there’s something strangely and tantalizingly lacking in the reach of what words are able to say. Often, in relation to that feeling and its expression, I discover that it pushes and kicks at its boundaries in an effort to be a song. I hear the fast rippling notes of an acoustic guitar that come and go like a waterfall and the lyrics drip like syrup in a foreign language that belongs not to another country, but dreams. None of it makes any sense and, it seems to me, that it’s this inability to decipher that feeling in a way that secures meaning that ultimately secures its mysterious and unfathomable beauty.

It’s just a 5X7 and—yes—it’s the rectangular limit of the picture, the boundary it erects between the image and everything else that initially stirs that feeling into being because it evokes an immediate contradiction. She is in the picture. But she’s more than the picture. This contradiction creates sparks that flicker into imagery, poetry, and music. And there she is, frozen in a blink of time, well lit, smiling, wearing a purple leopard-skinned top and a light blue sweater peppered with the silhouettes of dachshunds. And I get that feeling. That jagged inhalation. The ancient aesthetic gasp. Because—yes—she’s beautiful and—yes—pictures are great and wonderful things to preserve bits of stasis in an otherwise relentless world of fluid and flowing flux, but it’s this stasis that refuses, even in imagery, to stay put.

There she is, a 9-year-old 4th Grade girl, trapped in a rectangle but, like a song, she pushes and kicks at the boundaries, dripping like syrup into the past and the future. She was my baby, a speck of pink flesh in tiny pajamas (with zebras), and I rocked her to sleep night after night to the tune of Lou Reed crooning Pale Blue Eyes. And, still dripping from the picture, she will one day be an old woman with wise eyes that seem to float in a calm sea of memory and wisdom. Pictures accrue meaning from their befores and afters and it’s all the time that erupts from the blink of the moment—flash—that gets lodged in my chest and caught in my throat, that feeling urging itself into being more, into strangely juxtaposed images, the assonance of poetry, and the opaque familiarity of the songs that haunt our dreams.

______

Originally published in Brain, Child Magazine