Simonides, cont. Death.

January 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’ve been cleaning dust off my surviving brother’s face with the clone tool in Photoshop. It’s a curiously intimate act, especially in this photograph, where he is young, long haired and dreamy, sitting on the sunny porch of my mother’s house 30 years ago, his pals down below, not the camera’s concern; there’s an empty beer bottle at his feet and he probably has a hangover. Anne Carson writes in “The Economy of The Unlost”, her book about Simonides and Paul Celan, that Simonides invented the epigraph, and it was probably the constraints of the gravestone that perfected his economy of language. Many of his poems commemorate dead soldiers. She claims as his the line, “We all owe a debt to death” and writes that it was the custom on the island of Ceos, where the poet was born, for those who reached the age of 60 to drink hemlock, in order to preserve scarce resources for the young. Simonides left the island for a grand career and lived into his 90’s.

Photo of me, circa 1986, taken by my brother John in a graveyard he found (he finds graveyards often).

Photo of me, circa 1986, taken by my brother John in a graveyard he found (he finds graveyards often).

Wacked

December 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

One of those days where I had to do everything twice. Wrapped up the wrong necklace, got a brain tickle and remembered in time, opened it, realized I also had to re-string it, wrote up the new description for it and rewrapped it, forgetting to restring it so I had to unwrap it a third time…this is when I start wanting to run around and bite my tail like a dog withdrawing from Prozac. Then I lost files on my computer. Not anything of importance, just more grunt work. And was overcome by a wave of CFS, yes I still have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the disease everyone loves to disbelieve in, after 24 years. Self pity smells like pine sap, don’t you think? A little Christmasy. I like it when it’s late and all my potential readers are asleep; I don’t feel self-conscious anymore but like one of the pre-dead.

My niece and I keep having a conversation about whether sentient robots would be a good thing. She says not because they’d be slaves. But I want one as a companion. Smarter than a cat, not as crazy as me. Is that too weird? Not quite Dr. Spock, but…Oh, I don’t know. I get lonely here in this decaying mousetrap of an apartment, but remember living with someone, how difficult that was. I love Charles so much more cleanly and sweetly now. If only I could figure out how to do that in regard to myself.

My friend Andree’s brother died and it’s made me very sad. For her, for him, for the old pain of brother-loss. She’s lost two. I can’t bear the idea of losing my siblings. Yet even so, feeling more family love than ever, sometimes I look at my nieces and think it’s been like a sadistic science experiment bringing them into our family. At first they were just Davis’s children…but now, as adults, they’re part of all of us, heirs to a past they’ll never understand (I’m not going to divulge all the bits I haven’t spilled yet), and of course going far beyond us but still…

I have to buy a Spiderman sleeping bag for Daniel because I’m not going to write a story. I need something for William. Hannah and Myles are taken care of —Shea stadium mementos, pretty clothes, great books. Jaden and Jack get books because I’m not sure they get read to enough and I haven’t seen them in so long…barely know them.

I’ll have another Christmas in late January for all my girlfriends. We’ll need it then.

Myles, William, Hannah

Myles, William, Hannah

Fish Chowder and The Afterlife

November 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

The Kingfish gave of itself willingly.

The Kingfish gave of itself willingly.

I was going to make a pumpkin-rootabaga-parsnip soup today, with roasted chestnuts on top, but Charles snuck away to the docks, bought a kingfish and proceeded to make chowder. He made stock from the head, vegetables and cilantro (simmered for 45 minutes) then added celery, rootabaga, onion, garlic, cuisinart-pureed raw eggplant and a little cream and “cooked it until it was done.” Grilled fish and red peppers were added at the table. It was the best fish chowder I’ve ever had. The cilantro and eggplant gave it a hint of my favorite Thai green curry, but not enough to distract from the freshly-caught fish.

I’ve been working on my ebay site all morning, though the beach beckons. Describing my necklaces makes me want to create more—or more honestly, makes me want to pile up all the stones and run my hands through them. When I die I want to be buried with beads; not the finished jewelry and not the glass beads, but all the jaspers and agates, and lapis to bribe the devil. William Burroughs was buried with his gun. For a man who shot and killed his wife by accident in a stupid William Tell game, that takes some nerve, the kind associated with disturbed 14 year old boys and male writers of the Beat generation. But I guess he thought he might need that pistol where he was going. Might need to shoot his wife again.

I always thought the idea of a coin to pay the ferryman was odd. If a spirit-being condemned to row the newly dead across a misty river endlessly wanted anything from earth, you’d think it would be a case of whisky—or a goatskin full of fermented mare’s milk, as the case may be. As a child, I was also confused by the ancient custom of putting food in the grave with the corpse. I thought: it’s stupid to think the dead need to eat, but assuming they do need to eat, won’t they get hungry again when they finish the little bit you sent with them? I hadn’t yet gotten used to the idea of being weaned from a familiar, relied-upon substance: coffee, carbs, Prozac. I suppose the dead might appreciate those kernels of corn and wizened apples to help get them through their withdrawal from life. In this light, purgatory is no different than what heroin addicts go through in prison. You’d need it, I think. If an afterlife exists, which I find very hard to believe in but the rumors persist, surely the transition would give you the bends. A hospital room, then…flatline…Heaven? Back up. I’d need a compulsory orientation (folding chairs, bad video), the longer and more boring the better. I’d want to squirm beside my fellow recently-departeds—sorry, arrivals—checking out their reactions, looking for potential friends. And if I died when I wasn’t feeling too bad I’d need a few roundhouse punches to get me over my addiction to the earth. I’d want that smashing-down-to-nothing addicts go through so that simple health becomes a flaming miracle. Even if Heaven is in fact heavenly, I imagine I’d miss the wind in the trees and animals and hot tea. Brew me something foul from a dog’s liver and whack me with a branch a dozen times, I’ll change my mind. I’ll take Heaven.

As for Hell: if I end up there, I can always look for Daddy.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with death at Mostly in the Afternoon.

%d bloggers like this: