12/13/14

With my legs wrapped around the branch, my eyes slid from the light of the moon shimmering off the surface of the pond down to where my brother stood. But I couldn’t see him. A body was hanging with a rope around its neck right below me. The knot was right in front of me–right there, a cold dead knot. The body swung slightly and her hair hung down in front of her face. I couldn’t see Nate at all.

“Maybe we can save her!” I yelled, and my voice echoed across the pond and back.

I began to attack that knot. The dead knot that was holding my mother hanging. I dug and tore and my lungs filled up with air but it weren’t ever enough and a burning spread from my hurt to up and down and out the heels of my feet, the tips of my fingers, and the top of my head. My lungs seemed not to be working so I took more air and it weren’t enough so I took another and then again, and little lightning bugs were flashing in front of my faces and I was still clawing at that knot when a great light burst from the sky hit me square in the face: BOOM!

Neill, Neill. I was dreaming or something. Mom was there and her dark hair and her dark eyes were alive as she hugged me as we sat in Pops old, musty truck that smelled like dirt and sweat and trundled down the road away from our house. Even it’s windows looked empty. At that moment I had no home.

The first thing I felt was a throbbing in my left ankle, then the wet. When I opened my eyes I was staring up at the stars. I was on my back on the ground. My legs had fallen in the pond and my feet were soggy. I could feel a throbbing in my fingertips and held them up, ran my thumbs across them. I winced. I’d ripped two fingernails off the right hand, one off the left. They all felt sticky.

“Nate?” I asked.

“I’m here,” said Nate.

“Where’s Ma?” I asked turning on my side.

My brother was tall and slender in the moonlight. My flashlight had tripped near his feet and was still there. His was still in his hand,but pointing down at the ground, his hooded head was turned up at The Sad Tree.

“She’s gone,” he said.

“But,” I shifted this way and that, pulling my legs up out of the water, my twisted ankle gave a jolt that traveled up my leg. “But I saw her,” I said. “She was there. Did she fall?” I turned from side to side, searching for my mother’s fallen body.

“She wasn’t ever really here,” said Nate. “Just visiting.”

“Huh?”

“Just visiting. Even in Georgia she was always on those walks, remember?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“So she’d just had enough and went to the woods, I think. She didn’t care about the rest of this,” he waved his hands around.

“She cared,” I said. “She did.”

“Then why’d she leave? Why’d she do this–this of all things?” he asked.

“Maybe her heart was left in Georgia,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Nate, which surprised me, because he never said I was right. “Maybe she did. Or maybe she didn’t, but now we’re alone with Pop. How you think that’s going to play out?”

 

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9/17/14

Yesterday I rediscovered Robert Frost for about the one hundredth time. As cliche as it may seem The Road Not Taken. Yesterday I read it over and over because it spoke to me in a way few writings do.

The story I heard about this poem was that Frost’s father was a doctor and wanted his son to be the same. Obviously Robert Frost wasn’t inclined to be a doctor, but a poet–good thing, too. The Road Not Taken is a reference to the path he could have taken to become a doctor. Of course nowadays we’re seeing more artists than ever before. I have friends who are blacksmiths, photographers, glassblowers, writers, musicians, and painters filmmakers, and actors. There are, in fact, so many artists in our current age that the question can raised whether Martin Scorsese would have been able to stand out enough to accomplish the things he has. Similarly, would Robert Frost stand out among the crowds of poets filling up Amazon data bases with their self published poetry?

Of course I’d like to say yes. The Road Not Taken, applies to me every time I wake up earlier than I’d like in order to write. Today I clung to my bed like a stranded man might cling to his lifeboat on the open sea. I hear if you survive for long enough like that barnacles will begin to grow on the underside of your boat and fish will be attracted to them. If you have the strength to catch these fish you can cook them in the sun. Water is tricky, however. You must use a plastic bag or tarp in order to collect due, or if it rains, collect that.

In terms of my writing practice or writing talent, I am barnacles have begun to grow on my boat, but I am not so good at catching fish. The water that gives life, what I would relate to the level of writing I’ve arrived at thus far is enough to keep me alive, but not so plentiful I can call myself accomplished.

When I wake up at 7:30 each morning I think about staying in bed. I think about the other things I’ve decided to spend my time on in the past. From the extremely trivial and mundane to the lucrative. Wasting my time playing hours of computer and video games, drinking with friends, chasing girls. And then there are the lucrative, safe joblike situations I have turned my back on. Working in academia, which is still an option, teaching English in South Korea, which I spent nearly a year and a half doing. Going into a field in which would I could make some money sounds wonderful to me at the moment as I’m struggling to make ends meet. But the truth is, all my friends who are artists are doing the same–struggling financially. And the most rewarding part of being a part of an artistic community is the fact that even though money doesn’t come easy to any of us, we are all excited about what we are doing. What we do in our free time is so much more than a waste.

Yesterday, inspired by Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken I copied down the poem and ripped out the page from my notebook. I took a staple gun and stapled the piece of paper to the telephone pole outside my house. When my roommate asked me why I said, “Maybe someone will see it and like it.”