outwait outrun outwit


an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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Yesterday Sam chewed the face off a plush toy and wee'd on a man's trouser leg. On a walk, I fed him wild blackberries. The storm never came; gone was its promise of deep-cleansing gale.

An ineffable sadness haunted me all day; my eyes went damp at songs, the turn of a wing, the falling of leaves. I thought of Dad and Tommy and broken friendships. How I walk around the town in circles, carrying too much baggage. Looking back on my losses, like Lot's wife, looking back at Sodom, doomed city of iniquity, her home. Her name is absent in the Christian and Islamic versions of the story; all that mattered was that she was punished for her longing, turned to salt by the patriarchy.

This morning I noticed the pencil in my hand: a red-enameled barrel, sharpened at both ends, blunt now, inscribed with a space for a name to be written in. Should I write my name there, it would eventually be whittled away into oblivion. I use it to mark passages in Ian Maleney's Minor Monuments, a book of essays reflecting on home, memory, and loss. At one point, he describes the poet Seamus Heaney's final book Human Chain as "a pastoral fantasy", in which "the responsibility ... of always finding the right words" is given up, "where language and the natural world are more intimately and unquestioningly sewn together": "Living out the end of a life, burdened like a cart-horse by the weight of knowledge and experience - compounded in turn by the suspicion of their futility - I can imagine how this dream of an existence without the inheritance, without record, without consequence, might come to seem like paradise."

Elsewhere Maleney writes, "In writing it all down, we give it shape outside of ourselves, and are charged then with carrying it with us always - this separate, uncanny thing that one no longer has the freedom to forget."


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