I’ve felt very guilty lately about my ability — or, more accurately, my inability — to do anything.
Some of you know my father died a couple of weeks ago; lots of you have probably noticed I’ve been writing poetry pretty much nonstop since a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also fallen down on long-form pieces, and political and social exposition. I don’t think I’ve written anything clear and cutting, the thing I’m aiming for with all of my writing, since a couple of poems right after the funeral.
Certainly it’s taken a lot of revisions to get any of it anywhere.
I feel logy, slow, unreasoning. I went to Florida and came back feeling as lazy as an alligator. A death in the family, and now I don’t know what to think or feel or say.
Yes, I do think they’re probably related.
I have a cold this week, which seems a little (or more than a little) unfair, since we’re having some of the last really warm days, and I want to go walking at lunch, see the students in all their oblivious glory, enjoy the pretty part of the beautiful city.
Of course, I don’t really fit in here — I’m too old, too fat, too unfashionable for most places, and the students look funny at me when I walk around.
“Stare all you want, kids,” I want to say, “I know what I look like.”
These are the last few summery days before fall sets in, I think, and I’m grateful, although I could do without the ragweed. I almost wrote ‘rageweed’ here. I do have some rage about it, it’s true. Goldenrod, too.
I never had allergies before I hit my mid-thirties, not the respiratory kind. I used to get a skin rash from grass or weeds, but that was manageable. This is awful, and makes me more susceptible to colds when they go around this time of year.
When I was in Florida, I didn’t have allergies. I’m going back in a couple weeks to help my aunts and my brother finish up some stuff my Dad was planning to do.
Sorting papers. Organizing things for efficient storage. Maybe finding some shirts or pants my brothers or son could wear (my dad had a lot of nice work clothes, and both the brothers and the kid are big like him — the kid at least could really use them.) Taking pictures of relatives. Helping my brother build a deck for my grandmother and replace some of her plumbing; maybe helping him fix or replace the water pump that runs her house and my aunt’s.
Losing someone is an odd feeling, like a missing tooth, and losing a parent is like losing an eyetooth or a front one — everything feels wrong, and you keep putting your tongue in the hole, keep prodding to see if it’s still true. And it is. The hole will stop bleeding, other teeth might move, but that tooth will always be gone.
And you have to carry on, even when everyone at work or everywhere is looking at you like you don’t fit.
Maybe I don’t fit.
Maybe I don’t.