Not A Status Update

Posted on by Merridawn

Charles Olson with vessel

“I had the challenge of someone yesterday having said, well what is truth? So  I said, well, I’d like to say but I left the book behind.”

Charles Olson, “Poetry and Truth.”

Facebook is so horrible right now. Mine is full of people I’d go considerably out of my way to avoid in real life. It’s like attending a cocktail party where all you hear is bray over din. You make your way among their over-stuffed bodies, self-absorbed with accomplishments, seeking anything that isn’t superficial. Of course, you might say to yourself, why the hell am I looking for anything authentic here? This isn’t the platform for that.

Last night I slept in my childhood home, so my mother could leave early in the morning for New York and my father wouldn’t be left alone. We’re hanging out with him in shifts, while she’s away. My father, at ninety, wasn’t having a very good day, with my mother gone. I sat across from his glum face and felt like I would rather be there than anywhere else on earth. Rather talk on a cell phone to my sister as we briskly negotiated the day. Rather hear my brother’s anxious voice figure out his work schedule. It took all morning for my father to button his shirt, drink a cup of tea and read through his work papers. In the living room, under roasting elderly temperatures, I worked the sentences out on the page, all around me the stillness, the elegant emptiness. The house was absolutely silent, sun pouring in the giant glass windows onto low lying tables where the continued presence of light for forty plus years have turned all the old photos into ghosts.

Last night I had a Facebook nightmare. I rushed around, looking for someone. The rooms got larger and larger (one was like the Coliseum) and more and more full of loud talk from vaguely familiar people. I had an urgent message but I gradually realized that it would be impossible to impart it in these rooms. When I woke up I felt my husband breathing, I heard my dog scuffle around with a tennis ball. The sun had not yet come up and already the words were forming.

These days I hear other writers urging their students to post, and Facebook everything. I’m sure I would be doing a big disservice to speak against it. Writers do need to declare themselves, to celebrate the outward accomplishments of such an interior art. On the other hand, it has nothing to do with anything. “I feel sorry for you,” my father said, over twin bowls of soup, “because I am such bad company.”

“But isn’t it good it’s me?”

“Yes. Anyone else would have run screaming out of here, by now!”

So funny! Late that afternoon, I switched off in the carport with my sister, trotting in from her rig, resplendent as usual. We barely had time to trade a couple of words, but the sight of her was completely reassuring. I dashed home and my son was there, again, we exchanged a wave, some mumbled words. They were priceless. I ran to class and met my newest crop of students. We sat around for a couple of hours, starting to get to know each other. With luck, we’ll make some kind of contact, maybe regarding the art of words on a page, offered to others.

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  • Anonymous

    So many stories we brought to class last night. Thanks for sharing yours here. Joyce

    • Anonymous

      Loved all those stories! It’s going to be a great class, I can tell. Thanks so much for joining.