I finally understand that my third novel is circular. It’s an exploration of memory, and all the errors, and reconstructions such an exploration requires: photographs, music, story, place, the pieces we use to build the incident over again. And how reliable is our building, our storytelling? I guess that depends, doesn’t it?
When I was a kid, the myths frustrated me. This way in one version, that way in another. Sometimes the hero changed, sometimes the trials, sometimes the punishments. Now I understand how powerful the possibilities of another ending, a different outcome, an updated version. The flux of the every-changing past. The historical perspective maintains that the past will go on repeating itself. Land wars over Alsace-Lorraine for centuries. The story suggests all is relative. The fallacy of the eyewitness. The make believe of the writer. The ambiguity of villainy and heroism.
I’ve been thinking about a poem by Olena Kalytiak Davis, from one of my favorite books: And Her Soul out of Nothing.
In Defense of Marriage
Marry the black horse stuck
Dumb in her humble corral.
Marry the white fences; marry the fenceless
Moon and the defenceless sky.
Marry the feedlot and the threshing
Floor. Like the northern heaven to the southern
Stars, marry the kitchen table, its three strong
Legs. Marry the gate and the small intricate
Cuts on the key and the view spreading
Outback. The streetlamp
Weds the morning light, like that, take the
Nomad. Promise to forsake. Give in
To the cistern full of asters.
To the way the beloved
Story goes: her body from a bone.
And her soul out of nothing.
In a slowly spoiling month find out
You have married the house worn
Blue on the yellowing hill: each of its
Slow budding bedrooms. Marry one or two
Or three varieties of light, in three or four
Different lifetimes. I meant, windows.
Mate, be forsaken.
I married the way moths marry.
I married hard.