I broke my crow
R. is more beautiful by the day—this even though my own face is coded in hers. Everything that’s ill-proportioned and wrong when I look in the mirror is balanced and natural in her. A weekend in the woods taught her to ride a Razor scooter and she’s since been tearing up our block, to and from the school and the library, much faster than I can follow. I’ve been especially slow since last week, when she dared me to ride the scooter down a hill and I somehow thought the dare worth accepting. Now I have a clavicle broken into three pieces, a wrenched coracoclavicular ligament (it connects your collarbone to your crow) and an enormous yellow bruise over the front of my shoulder, as if a highlighter pen just exploded in my shirt pocket. I’m reading, learning to write by dictating into my phone, not good for much else.
By coincidence, The Life of Henry Brulard was next up on the stack. Stendhal turning fifty in a dreary government post is something like my bout of enforced idleness just shy of forty; in either case the active life is foreclosed (which must be more galling for Stendhal, poet of youthful energy) and one is thrown back on contemplation. Stendhal sketches the curve of his life: he’s on the downslope and wants to write about the period when he was still rising. The jerkiness of those contours reminds me of my own yellow shoulder in the mirror, which, having lost the support of its ligament, now drops precipitously from the bone.
The plot of childhood is an endless series of mistakes followed by endless corrections, and it would be unbearable without the plotless elements, those apparent encounters with human faculties in a ground state, met unawares, that seems to offer a brief for the religious idea that joy and beauty lie in the heart of things. R. has restored some of that ground state to the child self in my memory, and made it easier to forgive that child’s blunders. Likewise it becomes easier to understand life writing as a devotional practice, and not simply—by way of my jaundice toward American publishing—as something one falls back on for lack of other ideas.
I have no faith in the idea that intelligence in a child promises superiority in the man. In a genre less subject to illusion, because after all its monuments survive, all the bad painters I have known have done astonishing things around the age of eight or ten giving promise of genius.
Alas, nothing gives promise of genius, perhaps obstinacy is a sign of it.
Stendhal, The Life of Henry Brulard
An Ambition To Squint At My Verses In Print
Crow picking at a dead starling, the live starlings wheel and screech. It’s all right. “Everything is just as it is. You don’t have to like it, but you have to see it.”
The “purple ghost” maple is most vivid when the leaves are just budding, those curled skeleton fingers, minuscule. Magenta more than purple. That same magenta in the two-winged seed pods hanging below.
J. says she’s been far from home, that writing is home. (I know where my home is—not unlike a shit-hawk in the snow...) She says my writing always puts forth an indifferent, take-it-or-leave-it stance, which might be why it so often strikes the world without impact.
In the midst of this muddle I quite forgot to mention that my book has a publisher now! It will be out in January, we think. I need to orient some things around it.