I have not been back here this century. It
Late August I
My old reliable truck, 276,000 miles, plucked from its parking spot of eight years
I was lucky enough to hit the road recently with my son Nick
I no longer pay attention to fear mongers, they have never made my life better. My horse is a low horse, I have no power or wealth. You are my only audience. My home is one room, eleven by twelve. I don
Before I was born is a cloud of hearsay to me. I can recall the telling of it, or the reading of it, but it’s all someone else’s word.
My earliest actual memory emerges two months before my first birthday in the living room of the house I was born into. The occasion is a photo session, and I am the subject. There is the photographer with his eye glasses, and his artificial lights of transcendent brightness. With me are my parents, and my dad’s parents, whose house is also ours at the time. There are many poses, with an assortment of props, from a variety of angles. I distinctly remember an ottoman, which I was to lean upon, would be re-located several times before a satisfactory composition was achieved.
Anyone can see what I was wearing that day, the shape of my face, my disposition of the moment— these are all perfectly preserved in the surviving prints. What is striking to me now, in my memory of that day, is that I could follow the conversation among the adults as they discussed what to do for the next shot, and their instructions to me. I felt no need to verbalize in response, but I had no trouble processing what they were saying.
This surprising awareness has since informed my grown-up interactions with even the smallest of children: they know more than they say.
And from that day to where I now sit, I have been continuously, and consciously, “me”.
for Robert Swearingen
Yesterday they handed me my friend
I have earned a living with my hands– building for others, for hire. I have worked together to make a family. My writing proceeds from having lived. But the old ways no longer suffice.
We are now at a point where any truth we want is available. Any public figure can be made to do or say anything. Elections have become a game show judged by the audience– let’s see whose results are the most convincing. Politics and religion are one and the same. Virtual and actual are interchangeable. Any prophecy is self fulfilling. Vast segments of the population now occupy mutually exclusive realities– fractured, customized, repackaged, and consumed by subscription. There is just one channel, personalized to tell us only what we want to hear 24/7…
The mountains which rise up on the edge of town are beyond the range of any signal. Here I just have to figure out how to negotiate the next canyon. Nothing else. I encounter the oldest challenges, the prehistoric narratives. Because from time to time I need to put my weight on something that was here long before I was, something that will outlast all of this.