2. I blame Bolano again

August 24, 2020

It has been difficult to write, as though the sea-morning has gotten caught in the small bones of my hand like it was caught in the plankton trawl three summers ago. Jason said that he can create better now, now that he has regained his left hand. Before this he had always thought “maybe I’ll never be that writer / musician / artist I dreamed I’d be, maybe I’m not cut out for it.” Now he thinks “let’s find out.” As we spoke, me facing South and him facing North, baby pink carnation petals swirled in the slow pull of the lake between us. The only place I had seen carnations so pink was on the lapels of docents and pamphleteers at church doors at my door.

 

When I woke today at 6:30 I already knew the heat would be extreme. I knew by the molten light fallinig on the wooden balcony beams and flat roofs of my neighbours' homes. Going down the stairs I marveled at whose legs those were - beautiful and brown under white short shorts. Then later I looked at my browned arms and felt they were already dead, baked by the Sonoran sun but still attached to a first-person POV, reaching and scratching and typing out words. I felt scrambled in the whites of my eyes.

 

I am reading Bolano again and feeling at once sorrow at womanhood, self-compassion for dysthymia, and blue for lost time. There 2666 sat on my top shelf beneath a sentient hat and yet I feared to read it. I feared it would tell me I was not good enough, which it certainly does - the turns of phrase I come across once in a week come across once every paragraph in his writing. All along of course I have been harvesting good phrases from others - most recently from Kaavya who said of the lake as we rounded the bend of Lake Shore Drive - it's like seeing a lover/beloved for the first time after some time apart - how will they look today? What are they wearing? Is their hair different? 

 

Maayan's cake for Micah tasted like the renewable tub of chocolate frosting I sneaked from Erica again and again in our shared kitchen with the skylight. This is not speaking poorly of Maayan's cake, rather it is speaking to the folding of years. 

 

The way Bolano wrote of the wind skittering across Santa Teresa, trying on underwear hung on laundry lines, flipping through pages of books left on park benches, is akin to how Bryant writes with delight of things in the world that deserve delight and wonder. Sometimes Bryant's eyes are the color of flesh inside of a grape. 

 

Thought: is all pure math in fact physical theory? The process of axiomatization – building an edifice – on the assumption of things like arithmetic, which is a theory... skim milk off the surface of the world. The patina the postcard acquires as it travels the globe.

 

Lake Michigan and the Canal Street Drawbridge and Ping Tom Memorial Park have been my loves in this year of Our Lord 2020. Remember the vines of Chinatown - I told myself in 2018. Remember the brittle sticks of crimson incense held upright in the tab of a Pepsi can. Passing by and not looking straight at the red roses, I know very well the lives within those low houses. Bathrooms with plastic basins to wash our feet in. 

 

Also in 2018 I wrote: Even now during our angel hours I will do anything for you but wait! I think I was waiting for James. At last I deleted all our text messages yesterday. Are our angel hours also over? Bryant sat on my bed and showed me images of Baal, Moloch, seraphim. 

 

And I wrote: Do you remember yourself of the dark stern hair? Classical music plays somewhere far away in Ray's quiet car, dark and silent as tar. I do recall her now - my hair is again silent as tar. 

 

Into the south bend between the Point and 57th St Beach drifted a sailboat that looked like a hallucination. I said so out loud and the family below us on the rocks looked back at me. Jason agreed. He said it looked like a photo that would hang above the toilet in a bathroom in a diner in a New England beach town. 

 

Upon reflection I begin to dislike the way I write - but it is inherited from writers I admire, Bolano not excepted - where I end sentences or paragraphs as though the wind is evening out into a great basin (now in flames out West). But we are not! We are not going to leave the urban rivulets of China and sweep over the -'stans and open upon a magnificent plain of sand. In this pattern of writing I also find the pattern of my life, where it is too difficult to close things so I leave the task to others. I have no concluding remarks. I will never end! If I write a book it shall be like 2666 or Being and Time, incomplete and my Estate must figure out what to do with the matter. 

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© 2020

Yuqing Zhu