It is well past time I wrote a poem about the great joys of my childhood, for memory should bubble up like lava through the crust of time, they should rain in flashes as so much matter dropping into the atmosphere in their ultimate light show. This isn’t going to happen, of course, whether because memory has grown dim over time’s distance or for lack of subject matter. At 68, the difference hardly matters for a blank page hardly cares which pen chooses not to write it.
What I want to tell her is this: it’s fitting, perfectly, that you who so assiduously hid the past from me, your past and mine, now bars your entry, refusing you even the briefest glimpse. You want so to grab onto it to have it carry you to a place removed from here by time and distance, where it is warm and most of the time, cozy. It is also fitting that you call out his name, as though he was in the yard pruning a tree, delaying dinner, the same he you cursed glad to have him out of your life and out of your house, you wished him dead so that you might call yourself a widow and share condolences with the other black draped women. You never mentioned the six months of foster care or the little sister who came and went so quickly when he had the audacity to drop dead on you one morning. This is what I would say to her, this is the curse I would place upon her but she no longer recognizes me, I am no more than a well dressed orderly come to remove her lunch tray.
He says “the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line.” She says, “you will miss seeing of the amazing sights if you follow that inane rule, and by the way Einstein made it quite clear space is curved, and the line you think straight is not at all, so why not follow a more varied curve and see what there is to see along the way. It might surprise you.” He says, “I have to follow the road and the interstates are the most direct routes.” She says, “there are an infinite number ways to get from point A to B.” She wants to try several of them and if he doesn’t like it, well there is always the back seat.
She says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. He doesn’t have the heart to tell her That on a cosmic scale space is curved and no one wants the short straw anyway. She can, of course, read him, a skill she knows is reserved for women and is one of frustration to men. She laughs, and adds as if an afterthought there is a wormhole in the neighborhood. He has no idea what to make of her, and this is how she wants it for she and he both know so very well that the shortest distance between the male and female mind is a leap of logic only the most daring would attempt.
She finds dysfunction rather disconcerting and if I don’t agree she will take it as a diss though I would quickly dismiss that idea as disingenuous. But she is prone to discomfort and displaces those around her in moments of dissonance. She does keep her distance, and tries to be dispassionate and so I can easily distract her which is to my distinct advantage.
There will come a time in the not distant future when words will be rendered unnecessary, when thought will be freely transmissible, when distance will become a lost dimension. That day will be one of mourning, much as we mourned the death of the Underwood Champion, joined in death with the Royal Standard and a Smith Corona, and cursed IBM and Microsoft. And yet we poets will carry on, for we have always written because we have no other marketable skill.
She walks with a deliberateness that bespeaks years of always knowing what the destination is. Getting to the destination, she knows is far less important than having one. On occasion she would arrive at her destination and would then have no option but to immediately select her next destination, for being on one place too long was, to her, a form of living death. Many thought her a wanderer, and she was fine with that. She knew the shortest distance between two points was a straight line it was also just the most boring, and for her it was really all about the trip.
Magellan set sail 497 years ago,
which had nothing to do with her desire
to find a corner in which she could stand,
protected on two sides, and still
stare out into the world and see
all that was going on around her.
Better still if it were fashioned
of plexiglass, it could surround her
fully, as long as sound could get in,
and she could be fully engaged
in life without the risks that others
always seemed to drag in their wakes.
It wasn’t that she didn’t need people,
she just needed them at the proper
distance and most could never
determine what that distance
might be despite her entreaties.
Magellan would die a year and a half
later, a mistake she would never make.