"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More Private Than Blood

All writing is good, but about suffering they were never wrong, so tell the truth but tell it slant.

What if you saw a bug on your keyboard that wasn’t really there? Or a spider on the wall, or the shadow of a movement outside your writer's window, which was really just a shadow after all? What kind of hell does the hallucinogenic suffer? The brain is a mysterious organ. Look at . . . let’s call her Mary. Gone stark raving mad after a stroke, or was it really her man falling off a ladder to his death, and to think that I was 25 feet up with a paint can and a brush and a strong wind out of the west, hanging on with one hand and stretching with the other to reach a corner with the tip of my brush. What about brain injuries? You know . . .like falling on the ice and cracking your skull open. That sure shakes things up and does a CT scan show all? Tell all? Nothing is 100pct. Except death.

Poor Mary. Her son once told me he had to transport his hated son-in-law’s ashes and he wasn’t sure where to put the urn. In the back seat . . . didn't seem quite right. In the trunk . . . worse. In the front seat? It seemed the only civil thing to do, and he put him on the seat beside him and talked to him all the way to wherever they were going. And when they got there he didn’t hate him anymore. He was sorry he hadn’t tried to help him but he was such a drunk and hard to be around and hitting people and the sorry son-of-a-bitch drowned in his own puke.

I know I’m going to die, but I don’t want to die seeing bugs on the ceiling and walls, and I don’t want to drown in my own puke, and I don’t want to fall off a ladder and I never again want to hear the sound of my skull striking cold November asphalt. My frozen pool of blood a sideshow at the terminal.

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