Nostalgia

I’m afraid of the things with you I might forget.

There was the player piano in Falls Mill, a quarter at rest on the wood, and in the memory I still have, a fine line of dust across it all. Amidst the old cookbooks and mounted firearms there was a stillness; there were feelings only born in a room filled with dust. A motion in my body dropped the quarter.

Some years we say spring bursts forth. Other years, we say nothing at all. This spring there was a rupture in the stillness, and the negative space was filling the room, drawing the trees, the stream outside into its powerful vortex. As the music became faster, it became louder, too, and it was as if you could see the corn dust dance and shake from the shelves above.

You can imagine the pounds of corn these people breathe each year, the pounds that are sucked in by the player piano that is never tuned. It coats the keys, the strings, the hammers. It becomes a part of everything here. In the quiet that has followed the music, I am hoping this corn has found a way into my ears, has settled in my brain like a fertilizer. I am wishing for rows and rows of cornfields in the tissues of my brain like a fecund field.

I think I will become hungry, and I will go there, and I will find you lying face down in a row of cornfields somewhere in my cerebrum, and I will say:

“See, don’t you remember the dusty player piano? Didn’t you think it nice, the cobwebs that could catch only corn? Wasn’t it beautiful when something started, and you could hear it without putting an ear to the ground?”

Life was effortless poetry.

Found in Nashville

Earlier this week, walking out of my apartment at five o’clock in the afternoon, I could have melted into the asphalt. With temperatures over 100 degrees for days on end, it takes a lot for me to leave the house. But, I was overdo for a game of darts with some friends, so what else does one do?

Before meeting up with my friends, I ducked into one of my favorite local bookstores, Bookman Bookwoman, to kill some time. Of course, it didn’t take long before I found a book I couldn’t pass up: The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry.

The most memorable artist of this crew of anthologized poets is David Bottoms. Out of the seven works Mr. Bottoms has in the anthology, one is particularly remarkable: “Under the Boathouse.”

In this piece, we follow the poet in the arc of a dive that takes him under a lake in “a fog of rust,” where he becomes trapped, a hook through his left hand. Flailing like “a bait hanging up/instead of down” he’s looking toward the sky, helpless, awaiting his salvation, which comes in the form of his wife.

But, it’s not until the last line of the poem — when we finally take our first aching breath as readers — that we actually hear of the hook that has held the poet submerged.

The beauty of his poetry is the suspense, the element of the unknown that draws us under, holds us close, and refuses to let go. And, when we’re released, we wonder how we were living before the experience, before the work of art unfolded.

“Under the Boathouse” can be found here.