Rendered Fat Content


Utagawa Toyoharu:
Newly Published Perspective Picture of the Gate
of the Palace of the Dragon King
(Shinpan uki-e Ryugu karamon no zu)
(c. 1772/89)

" … illegal prepositions at the end of imperfect sentences."

My son Wilder, visiting with his two kids over Spring Break, slipped upstairs as we waited for breakfast, returning with a slim volume. It was the long-awaited book of my dearly departed Dwarlink Dwaughta Heidi's poetry, freshly published. After she died, a family friend who had also lost her poet daughter at an even younger age volunteered to edit a volume of Heidi's surviving works, for her poetry seemed suddenly immortal, certainly more so than their author. My first wife wrote a brief forward, I contributed an afterword, and my son, an accomplished fine artist, produced the cover art. I held a thin slice of time in my hand.

APublication can achieve this sort of impossible.
It can resurrect, if only for brief moments, times and places that only ever barely existed in the first place, rendering them capable of revisiting, of sparking ever deeper reflecting. APublication can do memory one better. It can seem to capture and hold securely in place in ways that no mere stone monument ever quite manages. It can seem much more significant than its constituent parts, much more than mere paper, ink, and design, for it carries forward what would have otherwise been left behind and lost. It remains current long after publication, regardless of whether it's ever reprinted.

For such an ordinary, common-seeming thing to take on such presence seems truly extraordinary. Triviality might thereby be rendered sacred. The transitory more permanent. Spoken words, preserved and reusable. Once private thoughts rendered more explicit. I understand why some feel the overwhelming need to ban some publications, even to burn them, for no more insidious instrument of human influence has been invented. APublication can and has utterly shifted the course of entire civilizations. The spoken word disperses while the written one persists. The repeated word shifts, often evolving into something different than originally intended. APublication can hold an intention across subsequent generations. It better represents human existence than photographs or sketches, for the read word inevitably resonates. It echoes and deepens over time. Old books whisper across ages.

I would ordinarily say that I now possess this work, my daughter's product, but this one now owns me. I will display it more or less prominently, understanding that its significance will likely be lost to almost everyone but The Muse and Me. For us, it will serve as the cornerstone of our library, more significant than any other volume, though the slimmest one on any shelf. This, it seems, is just as how it should be. A life's work might not ever be best captured in a series of collected works. The many books I've created might have mostly contained practice exercises, voices largely never qualified to serve as any decent self-portrait or legacy to leave behind. However, a few select pieces were probably created for the ages, not only the moment I created them. They somehow resonate my essence, and perhaps I was utterly unaware of their existence at the time.

Only APublication could ever hope to capture such accurate representations: unavoidably impressionistic, though the reader certainly provides much of their own experience. APublication might at best serve as a provocation, an invitation to connect with threads otherwise inaccessible to anyone, connections which remind us how very closely we must be related, the key to that afterlife some ceaselessly speak about, the one where we're all together and inviolate. Heaven, I guess, or someplace very much like it. I open that book and am in the presence of one so dear and yet otherwise absent. I fill such moments with the eternal, having little else left with which to fill them with other than illegal prepositions at the end of imperfect sentences.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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