Sunday, April 19, 2015

There is a book that I am reading now so that I might be a better father—Alysia Abbott her Fairyland—this memoir recalling Steve Abbott as father. And would I be reading this now were it not for Rob Halpern having written on Soup magazine, Halpern having written on the tensions in the Bay Area between the New Narrative and Language Writing communities, Halpern having written on Steve Abbott not as father (guardian) but as editor (shepherd)? This is what we offer one another. And perhaps this is how a figure like Abbott continues to teach and to share—by way of an echo heard now only from an extraordinary distance and as such never fully understood but only understood as we might allow him to be by way of a daughter distantly recollecting his life in fatherhood.

Recollecting indicates the act of collecting again. It is thus the act of recollecting as an act unto itself collects anew objects previously ordered otherwise. And through the act of recollecting these objects, in this instance memories, they cannot be but ordered and offered anew. Fairyland. This would be OZ. This could be The Land of Oz (1904), the place where, in "The Riches of Content," the final chapter, the Princess Ozma— fully aware of the beauty, kindness and calm her home offers—registers her reluctance to reside elsewhere: "'To think,' she moaned, 'that after having ruled as Queen, and lived in a palace, I must go back to scrubbing floors and churning butter again! It is too horrible to think of! I will never consent!"

Great Speckled Bird. This was earlier a passage from Jeremiah, 12.9: "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, all the beasts of the field, come to devour." The figuration of this bird—this particular bird—was embedded in an evangelical Christian hymn, 1938 or so, by Rev. Guy Smith—fundamentalist self-perception come to devour. Here—in the journal—the bird has been repurposed—or perhaps it has been called back to its originary purpose. Like a falcon to a falconress—the thing who, according to Duncan, his mother would be—that my mother would be or that I could be—in modelling another kind of masculinity for my daughter.

And the cover of this Great Speckled Bird above reminds me of too many things—i.e. the million-strong march in NYC honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion back in 1994—did it begin or end on Christopher Street—I cannot now remember—but I do remember the moment of silence for those whose lives were given to AIDS and HIV-related illness. People as far as the eye could see in either direction, thousands of bodies, all held in an almost absolute silence and in the distance I distantly recall hearing sirens, but only faintly, as from another world if only because in that moment we had built our own. And the men were beautiful. And the women were beautiful. And all trapped between these two poles were beautiful. And the moment in its beauty offered a model just as Fairyland offers a model—for living—for thinking—for being—for shepherding a daughter through the world.