Suicidal poets must whisper their will upon the windowsill, wish it upon the winds that wind their way toward children who still hear what nature speaks. Oh, tiny incomprehensible want incarnate, like the eastern gods transcendent and immanent the same, imminent questions of purpose and intent. I want to be an artist, your daughter says, and you wonder who left the goddamned shutters unshut, so that some lost bohemian might put the wrong ideas in your baby doll’s head. Is it time already? You hadn’t answered the question for yourself, and it feels like being late and missing the bus and realizing that the school no longer holds any seat that will accommodate your long, weathered vanes. So all that’s left to do is steal away upwind and whisper your own words towards her windowsill, ‘engineeeer, professooooor, dentiiiist.’
THE APPLICATION STATES: We want to know about your upbringing, what influenced your desire to learn. My upbringing? It brings up so many things, like curtains on a private room or the lips of horses on the auction block or memories that don’t exist, so it’s just as easy to borrow lines from confessionals.
My upbringing? There are wispy ferns among weepy Ozark hills, and purple blossoms sprung from stormy mornings. Now that you mention it, there are half-siblings I’ve never seen, but perhaps with the joys of connectivity, oh, there is one. She is struggling with life choices that must have been whispered by ravens. Here is another who has been arrested. Here is another who is posing in a photo with an old man who looks white as a ghost.
Today I saw a photo of my what? father? dad? Trying to choose what to call him feels like making the choice between using cock or dick in the writing of a sex scene, both offensive and uncomfortable, but what else do you call it? In any case, I see the man for the first time since I was a child, and a 30 year old half sister for the first time ever, and another half sister and a couple of nephews and brothers in law, and though I read about unfortunate criminal records, I felt very much like I was the guilty party, prying among others photos in the world wide hotel where everyone leaves their doors wide open.
There was this dream I’ve had for years that seemed to make sense today, all because some innocuous question on an application got me digging up the shallow roots of my family tree. In it, I find myself lost in a neighborhood and wind up entering an apartment building, whose public hallways and stairwells seem to blur the line between thoroughfare and residence, and before long I realize with considerable horror that in trying to get from one end of the building to the other I have mistakenly entered someone’s house. And though my invasion is innocent enough, I succumb to the instinct of sneaking back to the outside world, but no matter how judiciously I retrace my steps, I only wind up exploring more deeply the privacy of some unsuspecting family’s home. The dream ends invariably in the nightmare scenario of being caught by the homeowner, who looks at me in horror as I try to convey my innocence through a lost and helpless grimace.
So, there I am, today, having innocently come across a website all because of some pointless question about my upbringing on an application, and in clicking through all the photos I can almost tell myself that I’m really just trying to click my way back and out of the privacy of a never met half-sister’s facebook page when really all I need to do is close the browser or unplug the computer or just walk away and go for a run and a cigarette. And then I know in my dream I’m only acting lost, and it is my own deep desire to dig that keeps me hopelessly helplessly windblown and lost.
Worse, I find that I am sad and disappointed for these siblings, having hoped that they might have been something amazing and unique and special because then it would tell me that maybe I come from something amazing and unique and special. But they aren’t, and I don’t. And so every time I find myself among people who amaze and thrill and startle me, I will always be the person who accidentally walked in from off the street and spends the whole time pretending to look for the way back out where he came from.
And then I watched old videos of Anne Sexton reading her poems and that was by far the dumbest mistake of all.