It

Good evening!

Having just received a response letter from my adviser, I learned that the following piece is not exactly the kind of thing one would publish, that it is rather personal, perhaps not meant to be shared.

How perfect for a blog!

And how strange it is that while I am able and willing–eager even–to share my innermost passions with all of you in this venue, I am truly a very private person.  It bothers me when my neighbors know my comings and goings.  They know too much about me as it is.  Their tendency to gossip is bothersome, and it creates a lifestyle for me to which I do not wish to ascribe.

Anyway, hopefully it will format properly.

IT


It is there when I sit down and try to write.  It creeps into everything I write no matter how hard I try to leave It out.  It even appears in my fiction and certainly all my nonfiction; It appears in my critical writing; It taints my reading; It tints my eyes and changes everything I see.  I am forced to look through these glasses made of It and nothing looks real to me; I am removed from the tangible world; I am a ghost.  It affects the taste and smell of my food; nothing truly tastes good anymore; radishes gone bland, tomatoes white, bananas have lost their sweetness.  An ant no longer creeps; It stands still.  It is there when I put my jacket on when leaving the house and It is there when I hang up my jacket upon coming home.  It follows me on my walks with my dog, and hovers over me when I stoop to pick up my dog’s shit.  It follows me to coffee shops where I buy my beans, but the beans aren’t as pungent as they once were; they seem flat and meaningless.  It thwarts my concentration; It leads me to sadness; It opens up a hole in existence where there is nothing, no substance, no life.  It follows me while I dress.  “I guess I’ll wear this shirt.  No, he would have liked this one better.”  It follows me to beautiful places, like the waterfront at the University, sailboats nearer, now farther away, the wind whipping my jacket around my sunken body–when I think of that beauty, when I remember that beauty, It is there, It taints that memory. 

It followed me closely that winter, freshly killed, I shuddered, I winced, I cowered from its pungent, vermilion poison and I could not write.  It held me rigid during the deep freeze: twenty-five below in Vermont, and I could not write.  It thawed and drooled like an intravenous drip into my veins; I wrote about a widow who made watermelon sauce by the ocean; I could not write; I could not write; I could not write, and when I look at all the writings now that come out of then, they reek of It.

It followed me while I wandered the desert for two years.  I was empty, fallen apart, nowhere, pieces scattered like stones in the dryness; I could not mourn.  What sense was there in mourning when It permeated everything so thoroughly that there was none to compare to It?  There wasn’t much sense in writing; I could not write.  There was no emptiness because there was nothing to fill, no fullness because I was full of It, and I could not write.

Now, I can write.  I should be happy, but I’m not.  It is still there, and I’m not.  Now I can write, but I’m not, because I stink of It.

People ask: “Is this all you have to say, this ‘It’?  We are weary.  You are breaking our ears, heavy on our shoulders; our eyelids are closing.  When you write fiction, It is there; when you write nonfiction, It is there; you cannot even write about your dog without writing about It–

“Let It go, for godsakes!  Let It go!  He is dead!”


He is dead.  Yes, he is dead.  Yet he comes back to me in dreams sometimes–in clusters of a few days at a time, then he is gone for several months.  He is dead and I cannot control dreams.  Some of the dreams are comforting; others are only dreams, and he is dead.

And I yearn for magic to break Its back; I yearn for a potion to kill It.  What I would do for one day, just one day, that I could live without It, that I could go to a beautiful place and It would not invade my heart, that I could drink coffee and not grieve passionately for him, taste his food and not overwhelm myself with sadness, refrain from beating myself drumming to the beat of his music. 

Perhaps I can lessen It with the pen.  Perhaps, instead of trying to stuff It into a sack, push It into a corner, hide It in a drawer, I need to bring It out and caress It with my words.  Perhaps the swelling will diminish if I stop punching It. Maybe I need to put away my knife and pick up the brush.  No amount of ammunition can kill It–why shoot?  Guns are useless; I will write; I can write, I will pick up my shit and write.  When I get dressed in the morning I will wear whatever is on top of the pile.  I will write about the desert.  I will write about the scattered stones.  I will write about not being able to write.  I will write this piece.  And if anyone tells me, “Let It go!” I will tell them, “I am letting.  I letting It.  I am letting It write.”

Feedback and comments welcome!