Monday, December 05, 2005

The easiest bridge...

This from Jim Thorter. In 1976 he sent in a red spiral notebook with the post script "please do not return to sender" Most of it was poetry of the type where metaphor sketches a perfect skeleton of whatever must have happened to Jim. But since we all know that "glass turning back into sand" is a movement that denotes an impossible cooling, a reversion of all that has been blasted into being, its application to the human heart ends up asking all the questions that we suppose the poem set out to answer. So we've chosen one of the few realist moments from the notebook (pg. 37) so to show a squirming Jim pinned, exhibiting, we'd venture, the roots of that unfortunate metaphorical tendency. Who do we think we are? Check the intro.

When I didn't run for homeroom president, my father came up to my room and had a talk with me. He was leaning against the doorway.

Son. Your mother tells me that you didn't run like I thought you would.

No, dad, I didn't.

Son, I gotta tell you something. Part of the timing that you and your mother had in mind when we moved to this town was a kind of double advantage for you and us. You see, just like your mother and I struggled to establish ourselves in the city and then came out here and started up our own studio, we were kind of expecting the same thing to happen with you.

What do you mean dad?

I mean, you were at a public school in the city for the first 6 grades of your schooling career. Then we moved out here, you had a year to kind of get adjusted, but by this year we were kind of expecting you to come out a little ahead of things.

I said, What do you mean dad?

What I mean is, things in the city are a little faster. Now I didn't grow up there but I knew guys in college who were from there, and a lot of them were from rough neighborhoods, but they made it to my college, which was no small thing. Now these guys, they'd be on the phone day and night. They'd be knockin on your door, talking about this or that thing that was going on. I mean, there wasn't much to run in college, but they were running it, whatever it was. I didn't especially like it, but I had to give it to them. It just seemed to come natural. You know.

What do you mean dad?

I mean, like, wasn't it the case there in your school, that all the guys were out there on the playground, talking this and talking that, kind of fighting with their voices and insults to see who was kind of top dog?

What do you mean dad?

Son, I don't know, wasn't it like guys were squabbling, organizing power, getting groups of guys together just to get em together, one group against the other, or finding ways to make money around the neighborhood? We kind of thought that kind of way of doing things would get instilled in you, and that you might be a little more advanced, a little more assertive that the kids here.

What do you mean dad?

I mean, why don't you have a group of guys that kind of run behind you? Its all just a matter of how ya talk. That's what I wanted you to learn. I'd like to see, well not that I'd exactly like to see it, but I kind of expected to be driving past the middle school some day and see you and a group of fellows walking kind of in a formation, like geese, and with you at the head of the V, just naturally. I would have liked to see you gesticulating in some kind of way that lets the guys know you know, ya know, where its at.

What do you mean dad?

I mean can't you like organize an M&M selling drive or something, don't ya ever have the mind to scheme up a little money, get ahead, find a little way to get ahead of your classmates, make a little change, and then buy yourself something maybe that everyone at school wants?. You know getting ahead is that simple, its kind of a bunch of bull. But that's the way it works. Its really a simple thing, rising to the top the way cream does it, its just a physical property.

I don't know what you are talking about dad.

Ok son, he said, and he walked away, pretty neutral.