Do you have memory or does memory have you? How can we forget things we can’t afford to lose, and recall things we’ve begged our brains to forgo. How are interviews even possible? How is there a filing cabinet in the mind where memories sit stored and wait in silence single file. I can see the front entrance of my high school. I can see my grandmother’s face. I can see my grandfather’s casket on two by fours hovered above his grave. Not think of, or remember, or recall, I close my eyes so they open up inside and I’m wearing a Carolina blue robe with the summer sun in them. How is that possible? This question isn’t rhetorical. I’m going to attempt an answer for it before the end of this page. How can one forget something that comes back to them later on. It is almost like memory is orbital. Spinning. Cyclical. Circular, but dented, not perfect, it’s elliptical. All your thoughts are links in a chain crossed and in angles it jangles and the sound it creates can be captured in folds of fat and harnessed with complex carbon lightning rods and cabled wiring twisted throughout. What we call consciousness, the will of recall and of shaped perception into witnesses, are hand over hand what pulls this circular chain. Only one way. So that is why memories are sometimes inaccessible because you are past them in your internal kernel of mental orbit. And your only chance to get it back will be the next go round. All that lightning gets to ground. Life is like some kind of slow motion electricity. And we too bounce between clouds until a ladder arises for us to climb down and the earth takes our fire and our power and disseminates it across many miles. Memory is not a thing. It is a routine. Like us. A process. That we can fix. And can fail.
Chores to do. More to move. Horse to shoe. Oh wait. Horsefly and shoo. Sure. I’m up. Not firing on all fronts. It’s early. There is energy. But here I sit. Front porch writing. Trading grips between a pen and a ceramic lip. Trading discomfort hip to hip on a hard wood rocker. Seat of power seems oxymoronic. Though I am sure that it isn’t. If more people with power sat on it, there would be less obstacles to the simple, family-centric lifestyle poor folk have fought for far too many manly centuries.
It is crazy people pretend we don’t know the purpose of life. Yet so many live identical expressions of it for the same motivations. If life had a purpose, why would it be distant and hard to grasp? No. It comes bubbling up out of us. Grumbling deep inside of us when we do not feed it enough. These chores. That bill. This meal. And its cost. No one can give freedom. In that sense, freedom does not exist.
Freedom is the only sanctioned slavery. It is ownership of the self.
The spotlight is not on. The switch has been flipped and it turned on. But it clicked off before it was hot, and now it is not. Someone please turn the spotlight back on. The tricks and switch-flips that turn things on. Theater. A play. The one kind adults can do respectfully. Sit in a seat and stare at a stage and give eyes a feast of only the things that eyes like to eat. The tongue is the eyes, the teeth are the ears, slurp down every sight, chew up every word you hear.
There’s a dance in how an actor walks and a song in how they talk and if an actor knows their place they’ll look the audience in the face they’ll pull them up on stage they’ll give them up their rage and clone their tears in you.
That’s the only way you’ll smile later. For the joy that is tied to sacrifice, some happiness conceives in pain. The baby born is gut-busting laughter, oh wait, it’s twins, we’re in stitches.
The switches flip on and this time they stay. Two actors eyes locked backstage tighter than a lock. More like a chestnut. No key quite like a hard object. They crush it. And uphold buried treasure in the palms of their hands before frozen styrofoam mannequin face-spaces on the fronts of hollow heads. Fill them up with likenesses of whatever frightens them and reminding them of events hard to live through but delightful to behold through the refracted lens of other people’s problems. It helps to spotlight the drama. We cork and ferment our trauma. That is why it is opening night.
And after all these years, I find the theater a place I can play with my pain and raise a toast to all my fears.
Cut a foot into a century tree and find a maggot who beat me there. Like a shook soda, black ants pour a fountain out of another cut. Cut the whole tree down and a twig of a limb throws off my chain. It’s not a dogwood, but the bark has a bite. We’re both bleeding from the wrists. I knew the risks. The tree, I’m not so sure. A white oak cherry poplar surprise. Sourwood, sweetgum, sassafras, sick of more. Maple a muscle. Cedar I’m sore.
I burned gas, and dripped oil, and filed down metal teeth to see where that insect was. I murdered many burglars when I tore down the house we were robbing. And I saved a tree by killing it. Given it an eternal death in preservation its hundred year form could not afford. I went to school with a beetle in its larval stage and we each learned how to lap our tongues clean through the limber heart of timber.
The infant who wrote a dissertation in his crib. I cut mine to inch and quarter floorboards. For a house that will outlive me. But me and my classmates, we’ll forever be the only ones who knew the sound it made when a hundred years of red oak tree smacked the ground and made it shake.
Sand flats and scrub oaks and Spanish moss you pinch because it is so real it looks fake. As the pictures you take. The sunset through trees. Not out over open breeze. Loblolly candelabras coned allover tips ablaze in the AM sun. The trees stand on singed feet and wherever you are going there are signs of omens where fire has been where water is.
Hot pink. Cold blue. Lukewarm brown. Tepid canary. Vacation-ocean turquoise. Pine taupe. Cedar flesh. Red oak rose. The green that shows in paint but never nature. I don’t know the nomenclature. But I know what you mean when you say poop brown. City-gray. Brick orange. Charcoal roads that lead the way to white hot home.
Whether means a choice between alternatives. Weather does too. Wether does not, because a wether is a ram with his alternatives removed. You’ve got heather light as feathers forever. And then never. Never lands right where it is spoken, and creates a sort of token so that others can revisit and trade their famous catchphrase, ‘I told you so’. Say never never, or never say never, I can never remember, directions to Denver. I’ve never been. On an endeavor west of east. Homebody with the last name Homesley. I figure. It was meant to be. I was mean to bees. They gave it right back, and I took it wrong and ran headlong leaving off the clothes I had on in a funny looking trail behind me. Ground bees. Into a fine powder. Honey please, come back after an hour. Omniscience hopped an Omnibus and read an omnibus of her favorite books, and wrote a line in the margin of one, it read, do I know how it feels to forget? Can’t know everything, can we? Lost is forgot becomes forgotten. Cost is your loss becomes a profit. You’re not a prophet for reading road signs. Those guys are sweating in assembly lines stamping out printed signs, and they read the writing on the wall of the breakroom with precise, six forty-five aim. Quitting time. Oops, hit the wrong letter. Quilting time. Everybody go to your haystack, find your needle, and thread it. If I was a betting man, I’d say a bedding man could bring his work home with him every night and no one would mind. But when the betting man tries the same, let’s just say, the horse isn’t the one who loses the race.