an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Letter to Frank Gaspar: February 18, 2003: after accepting the job at Knox

snow: friends skied over tonight for t.v. and beer, the beer bought after I trudged half a mile through sixteen inches of downfall, streets silent and unplowed, walks lined with shovels left standing in the drifts. Have you seen your shoes gleam with snow in the street lights at night? It moves you to talk to God. The trees branches wear their delicate dust and all is silent, paused, waiting to exhale and blow cover, or wake slowly, as if melting. I love this.

The worst of our winters has seduced me into snow, uncannily, I think, since I will soon be living in the snowy midwest, and I should be resenting the tyranny of winter by now, but all I feel is awe, a sense of how relentlessly the right conditions have clapped together, crystallized, and snowed and snowed. I haven't been able to sleep for the last two weeks. Waking is not the difference between sleep and awareness, but is like hearing the spring meltdown running through the gutters and knowing it will soon be time for another time, all night.

I had to make a decision finally, and even if it is too soon, it is done. How do you sleep? It is Presidents' Day, what a day. There is so much terror in the world. I am listening, we are listening. The noise in the street is white: across the cities of the world, poster boards, faces, voices, blurring into one high white static drone. Newspaper. Some restaurant guy in California poured his French and German wines into the street in protest. The rabbit ears on my t.v. pick up waves over my snow-covered roof. The picture distorts, wry, lined. We adjust the antenna, my friends and I, and listen close to news beneath the buzzing screen of snow.

Beneath our listening in, inwardly, I hear my small relief singing, roaring on about my own one trivial incidental excessive happiness, home home, I've chosen a home in snow, I will sleep there soon, and maybe tonight I will sleep, melt one day to the next as the snow gradually melts into spring, summer, this summer's August when the books on the shelves will travel from here to Illinois, be shelved into another shelf in time, as we hold our breath and hope our hopeless impending bombing of Iraq might be shelved for the sake of curious historians looking for the path not taken--for I might have chosen another state today--and we might still choose well, we might.

Are you on the Word-a-Day listserve? Yesterday: Rubicon. River past return. It doesn't matter much for me, really, since the reality of things will surface in the meltdown and I will see the small consequences of the choice I've made without much regret. I've ended my great romance with Knox by joining them. I think by then i will be thinking about bigger harder questions, ones that make me feel small and insignificant. Who am I to celebrate myself now?

Even now. Airports: a survey of those privileged enough to fly. We check our x-rayed bags and shed our boots at security, we of flights, we together packed into planes thinking about the guy sitting next to me. Middle Eastern, this one, think the aisles of white faces. Is he us or them? Us: haven't we behaved badly? Them: what kind of quiet monster is your God? Before clouds, white landscape squares off neatly from the window. America. Me, I'm going to Illinois. That's a place where snow is certain. I am privileged. I have a place among states to call my own. This is sleep. I'm praying for sleep. And dream. The right conditions.

"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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