— From the Fool —
I’ve got a friend in New Jersey, Reggie, who wants to be called Reginald, but nobody does, it just doesn’t fit. He writes me letters, real ones with stamps you stick on like the old days where they had stage coaches and cowboys, but I don’t think you lick them any more. I guess he writes because he didn’t finish high school so he wants to stand out from the dumbbells who tweet. That’s my theory.
But he’s worried about his job. He works in this warehouse where they stack the coffins. The dead bodies come in from the wars, even though there’s no wars now but only advisors, but there’s still dead advisors and you can’t just let them lay there. So the coffins come into the warehouse, kinda vacuum-sealed like lunchmeat at the Safeway, and I hate when you can’t tear through the plastic, but that’s the way I guess they keep it fresh. And he drives the forklift to stack them in different places to ship out on Fridays.
Only there’s not so many now. He’s afraid there might be lay-offs. Not that he wants people to be killed, he says, but there oughta be some way to up the supply of guys that are already dead. Or elect somebody who’ll flex muscle and get that industry moving.
He’s had some bad dreams where mothers found out about their sons and got emotional, but he thinks if you put enough flags on the coffin they won’t think about what’s underneath, or if the guy’s in his uniform or in his birthday suit.
Reggie’s a sensitive guy. He talks about the concrete slab floor. His handwriting’s hard to read. I guess they don’t teach penmanship now, or else he never learned it. But I told him, I said I don’t think he’ll be out of a job. There’ll always be a load for that forklift.
— From EF —
Last week I was celebrating touch, now it’s solitude. I don’t think I’m confused or bipolar, I think it’s that I’m a weaver. Each strand has its own color and texture, and they all belong in the cloak of existence. CB and I encourage the practice of taking a day or two once a month to go do something solo, and that’s what I just did.
This is such a powerful time — May Day, Beltane, Full Moon — and I was still so jazzed from Lear and our family time that I wanted to steep in it like a 5’2” teabag. Thursday I assembled an extravagant array of food and drink, put the pillow and sleeping bag in the car, and started the process of centering myself. Friday, after gym, I got in the car and headed north.
The first stop was the Grove of the Old Trees where I tuned in to these ancient beings and chuckled at how the prankster manifests: the rare and gorgeous trillium, which grows lush and large in this grove, were all cheek-by-jowl with gaudy new sprouts of poison oak.
From there, I went up Highway 1 past all my beloved ocean spots to Salt Point State Park. Gerstle Cove was already full, but across the highway the Woodside campground had space. That was OK, because all I wanted to do was secure a place to park the car for sleeping, and then I went back to the ocean, parked in the day-use lot, and walked north up the coast.
With me I had lunch, a bottle of wine, a book, and an ornate little sit-upon. I found the perfect spot to give me sunlight and shelter from the brisk breeze, and sat for a couple of hours in that little retreat, hearing absolutely nothing but the susurrus of the waves and the bird cries. Think a minute about how rare that is — no long-haul trucks groaning up the highway, no passing planes, no subwoofer rap, nothing. Nothing, except everything that is.
I finished my book, picked up my stuff, and walked some more, looking and feeling and listening, and when that felt complete, it was a short ride back to the evening’s rest spot. Sunset had come and gone, and the last human sounds I heard had been my chat with the lady ranger when I checked in at 2 pm.
I unpacked dinner and drank the rest of the wine while listening to ancient Armenian music, then served myself dessert — Bach’s Goldberg Variations — while reading the personal poetry anthology I have thoughtfully put on the iPod, including W. S Merwin’s “We Are Saying Thank You.”
At last I stretched out to sleep amid the silence and the faint sound of wind in the trees and the distant whoosh of the waves.
In the morning, my bones were no longer aching and my troubled vision was clear. I came home, embraced my beloved, and prepared to enter the next Moon with full gratitude.
— From CB —
This week I’m a convocation of fragments. We’re starting to tape Lear for a forthcoming DVD, while rehearsing for performances next week in San Diego. We’re back to revisions on our novel Realists, which we’ll self-publish in the fall, having received a record number of rejections. We’re booking the fall tour. Elizabeth’s repotting the tomato starts, and I just took out a barrelful of thistles from the front of the house. I’m threading my way through two novels, The Red and the Black and The Golden Notebook, and a bilingual Lorca anthology, and learning something from all of them. We just went to the ocean, and I’m making a list of ways to sell our new edition of Rash Acts and writing promo copy for our Damned Fool chapbook.
I realized long ago that I consist mainly of my work. There are other compartments in me — sex, food, other people’s art, stars & trees & sea, my bonds of family & friendship — but I have no unified field theory that ties them into a graspable equation of identity. Nor do I any longer have the burning objectives of establishing a reputation or building an institution or saving the world — all worthy goals for some future lifetime. I just want to do the work: something that involves giving and finding people who’ll receive.
When I’m no longer able to do it — when the words won’t come or the memory fails or the will flops over — then I’ll probably be able to make the transition to sitting & looking up into the trees or watching all the old movies I never had time to see. I’m pretty adaptable. Meantime, I go day to day, shaving my stubble and combing out the question marks that tangle in my hair. Maybe the richest stews are those where you’ll never quite fathom the ingredients.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2015