Wednesday, July 22, 2009

it is us

Six word memoirs. Is the difficulty in the six words, or in the memoir? Is the memoir more approachable when it is someone else's?

Had a little lamb. Lost him.        a quite contrite Mary

Porridge, chairs, beds, bears; oh, shit.
        Goldilocks, the uncensored version

My mother didn't love me enough.
        Sigmund Freud

Evil stepmother, demanding dwarfs, handsome prince.
        Snow White
easily becomes
Evil stepmother, glass slippers, handsome prince.
in either of the above, "true love" may be substituted for "handsome prince"

Wrong turn; sorry about the calculations.
        Christopher Columbus

Why just one wife, not six?
        Henry VIII

Watched apples fall: gravity into Calculus.
        Isaac Newton

No! Not you! I love him!
        Viola, Twelfth Night

Saved that kid too many times.

Russia seemed so easy. My mistake.

God, I'll give back the apple.

Intense man; mad wife in attic.
        Jane Eyre

Printer, diplomat, scientist, author, lover, repeat.
        Benjamin Franklin

Don't get caught. Destroy this message.
        Richard Nixon

Six words is just sufficient to show how little we ever know of a person, to illuminate the cliche and leave open a wide field of supposition. Did they care a whit about the Nobel prize, the knighting, circumnavigating the globe, mapping the heavens, balancing ledgers, changing the boundaries of the civilized world, shooting a lion, or penning a major component of literature, philosophy, or music?

What does the bare platform of six words allow for the reason to get up in the morning, the stripe of sunlight across the carpet, the saunter of a cat across a parlor whilst tea is being poured?

Six words leaves out too much motivation, the hour hand suddenly leaping forward in the absence of the reassuring clicking progression of seconds. He lived miserably, but discovered the elemental make up of the atmosphere. Was a mediocre surgeon, a baker of burnt bread, a sloppy workman, an illiterate bore, but an amazing lover. Could read in twelve languages, design aeronautic instruments, but regretted stealing his sister's allowance his entire life.

Guerrilla freedom fighter, secret butterfly collector.

Decorated General; always lost the map.

Not much to say, but beautiful.

Dammit, no sugar in my coffee.
Dammit, No water in my whiskey.

Speechless with awe at life's bounty.

Actually, I take it all back.

Reconsider, reflect, count each word, calculate.

Was that the epitaph on a life fully lived, to be parsed down to a cliche concentrate, a pastiche of all that once mattered? Concentrate on what might have been, leave out what actually occurred, leave out the mundane, the repetitive, the second, tenth, fifty-third attempts, and instead record

Opened hearts solidified by heavy eating.

Perfectly manicured lawns, striped in sunlight.

I loved him, and he left.

Decoded Church secrets; burnt at stake.

Created secret decoder ring, lost key.

Heard voices of God, electroshock therapy.

Repaired cars with hope and spit.

Censored world-wide, partial translations available.

Thought revolutionary thoughts, lacked revolutionary will.

Calculated the odds, and stayed home.

Rewrote the ending, lost both copies.

Upon reconsideration, would alter battle plans.

Didn't mean what I said, ever.

Compiling the August retreat Reading List, which is currently bulging with Rilke and with Buddhism. Contemplating several weeks of caffeine-free vegetarian sobriety, which terrifies. Is a detoxed me, still me?

from sun to rains and back again