Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, June 20, 2005

And So

So say you have nothing to say. Well, don't say it, because then, obviously, you'd have something, however trifling, to say.

Say you're sitting in front of your computer, having looked at a few house listings, written a long (and long overdue) email to a new friend, splitting that composition to sit astride a long (and long overdue) conversation with a friend on the west coast, during which it slowly comes to light significant family events have transpired in his world that you have not heard of, even though the sequence of events began roughly a year ago, and ran its course months back. Say, somehow, between the New York Times Magazine, the email, the phone call, the house hunting, you find yourself still in slacks and a shirt with a collar. (Say you just used the word "slacks," which certain people evidently find amusing.) Say the glass of scotch you poured during the west-coast conversation is exhausted. As are you, say, dinner-less, vaguely overheated in an outfit suited only to the homogenized air of an office tower.

Say you'd like to write a poem but there's nothing there. No fraught image. No pretty or even recondite imagery around which to riff. No burning sentiment, lingering dissatisfaction or confusion, nothing requiring exploration except various problems at work requiring considerable mental effort but entailing little in the way of poetry. (With occasional exceptions.)

Say the fan is merely causing the increasingly humid air to mill around, insouciantly, and murmur under its breath about the unnecessary disturbance as it clings to your neck.

And still nothing.

Say the night has reached its prandial nadir: whether to make a real dinner or cobble together a stomach filling amalgam of uncooked odds and ends -- carrots, baby greens, peanut butter and jelly, cereal. Say this prompts a brief, familiar, and all but reflexive lament about single life and its attendant lack of domestic stability, the inability to forge any sort of routine when the best thing about your life is the lack of necessity of forging a routine. Say you're seriously considering pouring another scotch, but you know that won't accomplish anything.

Say after all of this, you're still wearing slacks. Slacks. And the mess about you has declined to organize itself. Notwithstanding your silent pleas. Say even the cats are ignoring you now. Say, in principle, there's really no one else, no where else, no when else, you'd rather be. And yet, say that thought offers less comfort than it seems it should.

Query: If you were a tree . . .

No, say you're a little too tree-like at the moment, and the arboreal figure hits too close to home.

Query: If you were this fictional "you" . . .

No. You're not. It's a waste of energy, all this second-person gamesmanship. I can reveal to you, if I am writing especially well, the two-dimensional figure I imagine, at best. But it's still not a person. No one, no artist, no actor, has ever conjured a whole person. Nor has anyone successfully put himself in another's shoes.

Query: What now?

Well? Can you wait all night? I can . . . .


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