Shadow plots

I rubbed the heels of my hands in my eyes and tilted my head back. Out here it is just the sound of birds, the neighbors never really out. The sound of a slow-moving jet, a passing car rippling out. Wet earth smells of hay like it did in Germany on our walks by the fields past the school, the swimming pool, the place where the boats moor and later, the refugee housing. Time’s pendulum arcs through space: I am with Lily at a camp by the river where we used to come but neither of us are sure if we’ve stayed here before. They change from year to year, the sites all look alike. I brought the blue binder that has the first draft of a story I wrote five years ago but I’ve only read it once; it’s sat on the bedside table ever since. Five years. Lily goes off to the tent with her book and I sit on the foldout chair but it splits down the middle and I’m slung low with the binder now having lost all track of time. It’s mid-afternoon and I’ve already gathered wood for a fire so we just have to boil water later for dinner. In the morning Lily is still in the tent with the dog asleep and I take the thin path to the river wondering how to find the through-line in this story of mine. The hard part is that it’s about me, I should be able to see the way through, but it’s not like this path that so obviously leads to the river. It starts off in one direction but fizzles out. The river is narrow here, the colors aqua-blue over the sand-stone rocks. A lot of trees and shrubs hang over it, it makes a soothing sound. I can imagine this was the spot where we came all those years when the kids were really small and we had to keep an eye on them by the water. It’s possible that was the shoreline where they picked through stones as the sun came over the ridge and slowly lit everything up. I talk to Lily about this nostalgia, it’s not a good look, but she listens like a skilled counselor. The fear surrounding what I’ve written, some need for validation, or shying away from it. It is a Sunday and the birds go in and out, another passing jet. My blanket and slip-on sandals, two open panes remain for June. I walk to the lake in the morning and it’s like I’m in some dream––hard to make sense of, but there must be some more meaning to it, this life?

Categories: Memoir, prose, writing

Tags: , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Personally, I’m hoping that Camus’ Sisyphus will help me accept the conclusion I have come to though I worry his solution wont be convincing.

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  2. It’s so strange to be this tremulant frail thing inhabiting a quiescent space, and your eyes just become two dissociated scopes looking for a fixed point within. I often think the withining is the hardest part of the process. It’s the obsession, the monomania, that I find most sombrous, that one can be draped in such a smooth organza of sensations and, still, be entirely focused on self-consumption.
    I liked your prose. You write very well, I find. But you are privy to that fact.

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    • Writing well is just the beginning and arguably not much in the grand scheme of things! Thanks for this dense reflection here, I had to look up “withining!” Grateful for some new lush words, thanks my friend for stopping by! Be well, Bill

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      • Everything can be argued to be less, that’s the nature of conceptual dimension. Wasn’t it Heidegger that said that only thinking was irreducible?
        Withining is not an actual word, I’ve just found. I’m Portuguese and sometimes I just decide to wing it and free-translate words. Best to you, Bill. I’m glad to have discovered you.

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      • Your Portuguese is better than my English and I “studied” English in college. Pleasure’s mine! I could use any assist with the Heidegger etc. so I will check your site out for more insight! Love the “withining.” It looks wrong, like something else pronounced with a lisp. Hey, to Caldo Verde! Thanks for this…

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  3. Being able to have such conversations with your daughter seems like a pretty good validation of this life.

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  4. maybe it’s not meant for you to understand it all yet –

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh Bill, sometimes I wonder–Do any of us really KNOW anything? I’m 62 and find myself reflecting on things that happened decades ago and just now having an aha moment. Either I’m a complete idiot or we are a mixed up mysterious lot the whole of us. Maybe the book takes a path that you didn’t but ends up at the same place? There a many ways to get to most destinations. Just throwing shit out there. Seems to be all I have to offer about anything these days. Peace.

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