Monday, November 14, 2016

Farewell to Hillary Clinton, Satanist

Well, I could have spent my morning more profitably, it has to be said, starting shortly before 3 AM, when I awoke from a restless sleep.

It’s been that way since the election: the dreams have turned dark and anxious. Two days ago, I dreamt I was back working the job I held four years ago, in a town 20 miles or so from San Juan. Getting there in the morning was a breeze: it was returning that held the terror. After all, if for some reason the little público (or minivan) didn’t come in the morning, it was a sure sign that I was meant to go home, call my supervisor, leave a message on her machine, and then return to the pleasures of bed and sleep.

But getting back to Old San Juan from the country outside of Caguas was a dicey affair. There was the yellow bus, the last one of which was supposed to depart at 5:30 from Caguas. But it was never quite that simple: at times, the bus suffered a mishap. It could be anything: a flat tire, a mysterious engine fire, ennui, or a chronic feeling of being misunderstood and underappreciated. Or maybe it had rained, which could be troublesome, since the bus leaked from the roof. And that meant that those not-in-the know would sit down in a very wet seat, and then have steady drips fall upon you.

So it was my habit to catch the second to last bus. That meant sneaking out of the  building before five PM (management was supposed to leave at 5:30) and then standing at the bus stop—should have been easy, right? In fact, it was unnerving, since I was standing essentially on the shoulder of a highway. It induced a sort of melancholy terror: I stood craning my head, peering for the flash of yellow to appear around the bend. The cars roared past me, in good weather it was only the constant, seemingly-amplified, whoosh and the fog of exhaust that I breathed in. But in bad weather, there was always the likelihood that I would be splashed, usually by someone driving a Mercedes-Benz minivan. So rainy days involved a complex scanning for the bus, scrutinizing which driver was likely to be indifferent to or perhaps enjoy drenching a gringo waiting for the bus, and jumping back when necessary. It wasn’t uncommon for the bus to be arriving right behind the speeding Mercedes-Benz minivan, which meant that everyone on the bus then enjoyed the sight of me getting drenched. I would step into the bus accompanied by gales of laughter, commentary, the odd sympathetic comment, and suggestions. I would bow sheepishly: the driver would turn up the air conditioning.

I tell you all this because two nights ago, I dreamt that I was back there, at that bus stop and did the bus come? It may have, but it wasn’t the right bus, or I got off at the wrong stop, and then I had to try to get back, so I took another bus, which of course got me further off track…..

I woke in a sweat, since I had determined to get off at some stop or other, and then had my bag spill out all of its contents, which rolled under seats. And so there I was, trying to collect things, on my knees, and shouting to the bus driver—a deaf-mute—to wait until I could get out….

Right—so I told all this to Jeanne, my sister-in-law, who told me that my brother, too, is having bad dreams. In fact, everybody is having lousy dreams, since Donald Trump is wasting no time putting his boot-stamp on the nation. We now have a white supremacist leading the transition team, and the promise of an anti-abortion Supreme Court justice. Oh, and then we’ll get right down to the business of overturning Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, lowering taxes on the rich, and turning what used to be a democracy into a police state.

So my sister-in-law had 14 people over on the night of the election, and there they were, chilling the champagne, when….

…so everybody was in shock, and now is probably a great time for me to visit New York, since there must be quite a lot of very good champagne at my brother’s house.

Both my brother and sister-in-law are in shock: they also joined 15,000 like-minded souls in protesting a few days later. They did it because they read The New York Times, and so they can ponder curious policy statement, such as the fact that a substantial portion of the American public hates Obamacare. And that’s strange, because a large majority of that same American public strongly supports the Affordable Care Act. And given the fact that the two things are the same….

So they missed the big story, and I might have too, if a very nice woman who was very good to me at that job I lost hadn’t posted it in Facebook. So had my brother bothered to call me before that march, I could have told him: yes, Hillary is a Satanist. At least, that’s what my friend’s post said, though curiously, the mainstream news…. But that’s hardly surprising, since we know that The New York Times is also infested by Satanists, so you can be sure that my friend’s post was the real deal. 

Well, well—terrible news, but at least Satanism doesn’t run on party lines, since George H. W. Bush is also a Satanist. Or at least a pederast, and how far away can that be from Satanism?  

I could tell you this all definitively if I weren’t in the Internet-darkest corner of the café, since the corner is also the Pandora-deafest. And since Pandora’s box has opened to Puerto Rican Christmas carols—I’ve chosen silence over Internet. But it really doesn’t matter, because you, Dear Reader, can easily travel down those conspiracy lanes.

And who’s to know, since I myself may unwittingly have gone down a few of those highways myself. A friend posted on Facebook that the exit polls in a number of states—including my home state of Wisconsin—reported immediately after the voters left the polling stations reported a Clinton win. But then, the exit polls got changed, to reflect the “actual” results. And those results, need I tell you? Well, if you believe them, then you’d believe anything! Such as Hillary being a Satanist!

Ooops, wait….

So I’m really not doing so well, since my sleep is filled with missing busses, and my mornings are filled with nightmares more real and also more terrifying. Which is why I had to turn to Marina  Abramovich, about whom I knew nothing, but you know the odd thing about YouTube? Like the most seasoned teacher, like the most trusted friend, YouTube reads your mood and your inclinations, and always gives you the clip you need to watch. And though I knew I wasn’t doing well—I mean, how bad is it if you can’t get off a bus?—I really didn’t think I was that far gone.

So here she is, in her Russian mystic best, and what did I need to learn?

Well, it was the only thing I did all morning, but now I know! Whee! And so will you, if you care to delve into the ultimate reality, the reality so much more real, lasting, eternal, luminescent, sublime, ethereal and visceral and spiritual and materialist…

Yes, you too can know….

…how to drink a glass of water!


       

Friday, November 11, 2016

Requiem

It’s the usual thing: I’m used to it by now. I’ve lost half a dozen cherished pets. My father died in 1993; my mother in 2010. So I know grief, having done it wearyingly often. But now it’s different. You know when that kitten first destroys the toilet paper that the day will come when you will take him to the vet. Not for his first shots, but for his last. You will be crying, and trying not to show your husband that you are. He, as well, is sniffling heavily. The veterinarian will inject the drug, and your cat will breathe one last breath. And then, he will be no more.

You’ve had time to get ready, of course. And that morning, when your cat could barely stand on his feet, when he was groggy, when he had stopped urinating…well, you knew it was time. Always before, getting the cat into the carrier was a struggle. Your husband grabbed the cat. You snuck into the back bedroom and opened the carrier. Then, as quickly as possible, your husband zoomed into the bedroom, and shoved the howling cat in. You zipped up the case as you husband retreated to the bathroom: the cat had scratched him badly. Oh, and he cannot stand the sight of blood.

He wants to take the bus, since it’s 75 cents, after all. But there will be the usual kids screaming on their way to school, or a drunk singing as out of tune as he is loud. So you tell him that you’ll pick up the cab fare—you, out of a job, but hey, this is your cat….

On the way there, the cat start to meow, and then your husband puts his face to the mesh and peers into the carrier. He calls the cat his special name, and you choke back the tears, knowing that you will only hear that name only a few more times. It will be the only thing said on that ride, since what else is there to say?

You’ve called ahead, and they know you at the vet. So there’s almost no waiting, since they want this over almost as much as you. So there you are, in the examination room, and you’ve taken the cat out of the carrier, now, since you only have him for a few minutes more, and he’s scared. And now the cat has buried his head in your husband’s armpit, and your husband is stroking the cat and reassuring him, and you are thinking that all of your life, all you’ve ever done is lose people and pets. It’s not true, of course, but it feels true, since grief is its own country. And when you’re travelling through that landscape, there is no other land imaginable.

The vet will come in, look quickly at you and your husband, and then turn to the cat. Should we try one last treatment? Perhaps if the cat stays overnight, gets intravenous fluids….

Overnight.

Overnight means that he’ll be alone, in a cage, and there are dogs, so how loud will it be? If the cat is frightened now, how will he be at three in the morning? This cat who has slept next to your husband almost all of his life?

Of course, the cat is 15-years old. So you might have another week, for which you’ll have paid 500 bucks or so. But you know: the kidneys are shot, the liver is shot, and it’s only a matter of time. Your husband looks at you, since he cannot—absolutely cannot—pronounce the death sentence to this cat. He is, after all, the cat we rescued as a kitten from the top of a tire of a parked car.

“I think it’s time,” you say. And you look at the vet and will him—he is going to back you up.

“I would support that decision,” he says. 15-years old? No kidneys? No liver? Of course, he’s going to support that decision.

Your husband nods, and the vet goes to get the drugs. First the tranquilizer. The cat relaxes, and then it time for the drug to stop the heart. And it’s just as it was when your mother died: death is both so real and so absent. You want to get away: you want to pay the obscene bill, and get the hell out of there.

You know the routine: your only challenge is to get through the rest of the day. Work, housework, essential calls—all those can wait.

If you can make it through the first day—and of course you can—then you set your sights on a week. After that, a month, then three months, then half a year. If it’s a pet, you’ll mostly be over it. If it’s a parent, a spouse, a brother or sister, you’ll still be mourning. You’ll cry in the morning, then get up and go to work, where you’ll tell everybody you’re just fine.

So I know the routine. I know every ravine and crag of that land called Grief. What didn’t I know?

That this time, it would be for my country.

Which is why I’ve decided to tell the people who voted for Trump to go to hell. Yes, I got through eight years of Ronald Reagan. I got through eight years of George W. Bush. And I was able—even for those atrocious presidents—to agree. You win some, you lose some: chin up, get over it.

But now?

This was not an election: this was about whether the core values and systems of my country would remain intact. Or whether a man of unknown but very probable demagoguery would sweep it all away. And no—it isn’t looking good. Ponder, for a moment, the interesting fact that St. Paul, Minnesota, is providing emotional support for schoolchildren in the public schools. This from my cousin Angela, who reports that her kids are worried about a classmate from Somalia. And then, of course, the report of a gay man badly bashed by a beer bottle. Or what about the 88 reports of people being bullied?

Can’t we state the obvious? For most of a year now, we have seen a bully: a man who admits to groping women, a man who mocks a veteran’s family, a man who…

…do I have to go on?

In short, we have elected a bully, and now, who can be surprised at what we are seeing? I stopped posting months ago on Facebook about Trump or Clinton: the dialogue was way too toxic. Are there good people who voted for Trump? Absolutely: I know two or three of them, and there are probably many more of my friends who voted for Trump, but have not said so.

But now, isn’t it time to move forward, shake hands, agree on what we can agree on, and move on?

That’s what we’re being told.

And that’s what I could do every other election.

This time, though, I can’t. I’m going to have to mourn, and mourn privately, as I have so often. I’ll go on, and I’ll fight those fights that come my way. I will be a gracious loser. May I also say that it important to be…

…a gracious winner?          


Monday, October 31, 2016

Not Fair!

I’m doing what I have to, which is to say that I cannot read Facebook, El Nuevo Día, or The New York Times anymore.

I feel bad….wait, I’m not sure I do. I think I should be able to handle, after all. the news that the FBI director decided, having had the newly discovered….

Oh, wait…they really weren’t newly discovered, since the emails were discovered in either September or October. Why am I not certain? Because the Washington Post is my source, and they only give me five free articles per month. But here’s the link, in case you haven’t read your way through the Post….

Now, where was I? Well, time to look elsewhere besides the Clinton campaign, or in fact either campaign, though both are slightly worrisome to contemplate. What happens if Hillary wins, and then the FBI decides that finally it has the smoking gun it needs to take her to trial? Of course, she wouldn’t be the only one, since Trump too could be sitting in a courtroom when he should be thinking about running the country. But instead, on December 16 of this year, he or his lawyers will be in a New York courthouse on charges of raping a 13-year old girl. This one I know about, since The Guardian isn’t as stingy as the Washington Post….

So that’s wonderful: now both candidates and the future winner will be behind bars, which would be OK, except that, well…

Well, by definition, the winner of the presidential election does not put his opponent in prison. True—that’s a long-standing tradition in some countries, but not for us. So if it’s Hillary who gets thrown into the jug, then I know what all of us supporters will do: we’ll burn up Facebook with scathing comments, and oh! How mortified the Trumpites will be! Hah! Take that!

What I don’t know, of course, is what will happen if Hillary wins. Because all of those guys, you know, have a zillion weapons, and why do I think that they’re going to resort to Facebook, when they have the AK-47 (or whatever it is) all oiled up?

And of course, they have every reason to be testy, since Donald did tell them—I just ran into this—that 1.8 million dead people are registered to vote, and some of them will be! That, by the way, came from the Daily Kos, and an article from Oct 22, 2016, entitled “Donald Trump Plans 100 Days of Bloody Vengeance, Promises to Sue Women Who Accused Him.” I tell you all of this because the Daily Kos is happy to let me read it, but won’t let me hyperlink it. Probably just the hand of one of those 1.8 million dead people….

So now, of course, I have to worry about that, and hope that whatever legal process ensues doesn’t work its way up to the Supreme Court, since guess what? It turns out that Clarence Thomas is in trouble again, since an Alaska lawyer, who was a Truman Scholar, claims that Thomas groped her in 1999. Well, Thomas says it isn’t so, but then again, he also said he hadn’t put the hair-from-down-there on the Coke can. And I have a problem with that, because guess what? I’m a guy, but also gay, so can I say that none of the women I have ever met could conceivably imagine such a thing? Sorry to betray my sex, here, but really….

Well, anyway, I could deal with all of this, if I didn’t have to deal with the Water Protectors, since what’s going on in North Dakota? In fact, I know what’s going on in North Dakota, since my family had some land up there. So I’ve been following the fracking issue for a decade, now, and it was no surprise that, having rather violently forced the oil out of the ground, they then had to do something about it. And so was it the North Dakotans fault that, having turfed the Indians out of what was then more desirable land, those same Indians (OK—their descendants) should be sitting on top of an oil field?

Well, well—I puzzle my head about this, because in fact I have been to North Dakota, and seen the land. In fact, it is easy to see the land, because on a clear day up on the Canada boarder, you can see the Turtle “Mountains” down there in South Dakota. So that’s to say that if the world isn’t flat, the Dakotas certainly are. So I puzzle about this designation of the Dakotas as “sacred,” but then again, a lot about Native Americans—sorry, now to be called First Nations—leaves me cold. Though I will say that the Winnebago tribe—now known as Ho-Chunk—afforded me my only successful experience of dancing. We were up on the reservation, my friend Dorothy and I, and we joined in the dance, having been invited to by a Ho-Chunk man as lubricated as we. And so we quickly learned the dance—stomp two times, shuffle to the left; stomp two times, shuffle to the right. In fact, we had quite a go of it. But if the dancing leaves something to be desired, is it really justified to bring out the dogs and the paid-thugs to seize control of the land? Couldn’t we go back to more subtle approaches, like distributing smallpox infested blankets to the tribe?

So that’s where we’ve come to: two presidential candidates headed for the hoosegow, a supreme court justice who may or may not have groped an Intern in 1999, and the whole nation watching a slow massacre up in North Dakota. And of course, the news is hardly any better here, since on Friday, the Secretary of Health, Ana Ruis, announced the birth of the first baby born with microcephaly, as a result of the Zika virus. The baby—thanks for asking—is doing as well as can be expected, which sounds like…well, not so well. Auditory and visual problems, and probably neurological complications, as well. So that’s unfortunate, since we will probably have somewhere near or above 200 similarly affected babies by the middle of next year. Oh, and it’s going to rain all this week, so maybe that number will rise to 300.

Or maybe not, since nobody can say that we aren’t taking this seriously, since I saw it from the bus with my own eyes. The bus, you see, leaves the charming Colonial city and goes through the projects, and one of the ruins in front of the projects is an old store. It’s now roofless, but it does have plenty of old tires, flower pots, containers, etc. So the Health Department came by, and boy! Did they take action! Yes, every available wall was plastered with the news: Criadero de Mosquitos, or Mosquito Hatching Ground. Of course, no one actually cleaned up the hatching ground—that would be meticuloso, or finicky—but who needed to? Now that everyone was warned, they all knew to stay away! See?

In fact, I wish they had done the same for me. I should have been warned, somehow, when I left the apartment this morning that I was entering a criadero of…what? News spiraling out of control? Lunacy unleashed on the world? Madness run rampant?

They’re supposed to tell you, you know. They have to give you papers, and then you have the right to go before the judge. I mean, I thought I was taking the drugs the shrink gave me, but maybe I got confused. Or maybe—a little paranoia, here—they switched around the medicine. Sometimes they do that, you know. Anyway, it’s completely, completely unfair that…


…they threw me into the madhouse without warning….        

Friday, October 21, 2016

Last Rites

My mother had, apparently, lived a Zen existence: her house was small, pared down, a treehouse meant for viewing her forest. It was not, we thought, meant to hold anything much more than my mother, her animals, the most basic of utensils (of which a computer was one), and the receding but luminescent love of her dead husband.

How wrong we were….

The day after she died, we went into a kind of frenzy: John, my lawyer brother, was diligently doing the legal work and making the arrangements for the disposal of the body. (Yes, mothers at some point become bodies, and though the funeral home had collected her / it the day before, John still had to go to the home, talk to the coroner, and arrange for the cremation.)

Right—so John knew what to do, but what about Eric and me? We looked around and decided that the best course of action was to rake the leaves away from the foundation of the house.

At some point, it became clear.

“Listen,” I told Eric, “you’ve just retired, and I’m not that far behind you. And don’t you think that what we’re doing, any high school kid could do better and faster?”

Well, we both stopped working and began panting, which allowed John to say…

“I think Marc’s right. We need to start going through the photos and the papers—all of the things that only the family can do….”

It sounded like a good plan, but how was it that Eric got stuck with the photos, and I got stuck with the papers? Eric is, after, a writer, and has a Pulitzer to prove it. But my mother had been a poet, and had often sent me her work. And since she had spent a decade writing, there was a lot of it.

That wasn’t the worst. My mother had had two terrible tendencies, from my point of view. First of all, more than any other writer I know, she had relentlessly revised, rewritten, rethought, and finally scribbled revisions on printed pages. And then, what had she done? She had printed multiple copies, since she was taking classes and sharing her work. All of that would have been bad enough, but she had also printed those copies  without putting dates on her versions. So it was entirely possible to have 16 printed copies of “Will ‘O the Wisp,” in four different versions. The sixteen versions would be scattered into different drawers, piles next to the computer, baskets, and book bags. Thus, among the masses of paper, I was constantly coming across a poem I was sure I had seen before. It was madness, and I spent the next five days after her death weeping, taking walks, drying my tears, and returning to the task of sorting it all out. And it was then that we discovered: she had been a hoarder after all, since she had, for example, kept all of the postcards she had written to my grandmother in 1964, on her first trip to Norway.

So the year was 2010, and I was holding some two-dozen postcards nearly half a century before. Was I bound to read them? Was the world pining to know that she had eaten a rum-flavored Napoleon in a bakeri in Trondheim? Was it worth saving them?

I suffer from the opposite impulse. The grand piano in my living room? If I haven’t played it in a week, it goes into the trash….  

There were not just postcards to worry about: what about all the sea charts that my father had bought, at quite a lovely penny, from somewhere or another in Norway? My parents had had a boat, built in Norway, and quite lovely it was, too. But like everything else in their marriage, it had been a compromise. My mother wanted a sailboat, and dreamt of falling asleep gazing up at the star-bejewelled sky—those skies that would never rain. My father had wanted a decommissioned Navy destroyer: windowless, but with iceberg-breaking technology. A wooden boat was the answer.

So my father had spent his winters memorizing all of the rocks, markers, channel passages, lighthouses, red versus yellow versus green stakes, and other points of interest and peril in whatever fjord they were exploring the next summer. These charts he had marked precisely in his terrible scrawl, and so this comprised a vital testament to the working mind of….

…nah, I tossed them.

It was not, I felt, an expedition that required a trowel and brush, but rather the backhoe. At last, at last—I assembled just one box, which would surely be a snap to get through, back in San Juan. Because at the time of departure I was still cramming papers into the box, there was no time to get to the post office. Not a problem, though: Eric was driving back home with boxes of pictures, he could take my box of documents and send it later.

I prayed that “later” would never come….

Is that unfilial? Actually, it was exactly how my mother felt: she had seen with less than mixed feelings the widow of a great pianist expending her weakening energy in trying to keep her late husband’s legacy alive. The widow would spend hours writing letters, urging memorial concerts, contacting illustrious people from the past. Why, my mother would ask? When you’re dead, you’re dead: let history take care of itself.

It was a point of view, of course, but then I had Emily Dickinson pop into my head. There she had been, scribbling away all those years, and had she ever published? Well, the answer was either “no” or “not much,” so someone, somewhere must have put dotty old Aunt Emily’s poems into a box, and consigned it to the attic. And now, of course, wasn’t I in the same hot seat? Imagine what we don’t have: the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach represent only half of what we believe he wrote. So how many cantatas, masses, passions were sacrificed to kindle fires or curl hair?

And so, for a year or two, I lived without the box, and then my brother, cruelly, sent it to me. The postman, you’ll be happy to know, suffered only two or three herniated discs, and is now entirely pain-free, except on rainy days. And so I wrestled the box up to my apartment, but then what to do with it? My solution was not to put it in the attic that, anyway, I don’t have. No, I would put it right next to my favorite chair, which would ensure that I would get right to dealing with it….

Well, it was a reminder, all right, for a month or two, and then it became a whispered, then spoken, and last shouted reproach, since I saw it every day for four or five years. And a health hazard too, due to the termites which had consumed most of the furniture / books in the apartment, and the cockroaches which roamed freely, since they were tearing up the street outside. So there was the real fear: if indeed I ever did open the box, what would I find? And in what condition?

At last, I can tell you:

1.     yellowing copies of the Wisconsin State Journal from the 1940’s, when my father and mother were building with their own hands my childhood home
2.     a beautiful linen, hand-embroidered handkerchief, probably from the late 19th century
3.     several letters from an ancestor on my maternal grandmother’s side from the 1880’s concerning the vital matter of a Sunday social at the church in Wichita, Kansas
4.     two magazines with articles of my mother’s mother, one of which concerned a witch-burning judge, an alleged ancestor, in Salem, Massachusetts
5.     articles about my father’s retirement, as well as my grandmother’s last sale of a story to Chicago Magazine, in the 1970’s
6.     a stack three feet high of the dreaded poems
      
OK—I’ve gotten rid of items 1, 3, 4, 5, leaving only a beautifully embroidered handkerchief from the 19th century. And the work of the last two weeks has been item 6.

I responded to the crisis in time-honored fashion: I wrote an email.

I sent it to ten people—friends and relatives. I received two responses. A friend wrote with good advice: put the poems in some sort of order, and then save them in several different forms, preferably print. And then give them to my niece, who has a PhD in English: she would know, over the course of time, what to do with them.

Sage advice—but wasn’t it a bit of the old dead hand? Was it fair to shove off my responsibility onto the next generation?

The second response was from one of my brothers: he suggested that if, after six years, nobody had done anything with my mother’s poetry, well, wasn’t that an indication that nothing need be done?

There was some truth to this, as well, though how long had Aunt Emily’s poems sat up in the attic of her house in Amherst, Mass? (Answer, courtesy of Google—apparently not long, since sister Lavinia instantly realized their worth, and published them all four years after Emily’s death. This of course puts me even further to shame, though why my mother didn’t name me “Lavina…”)

So was it a box? Of course.

Or was it a decade-worth of creative effort? Of course.

And thus it became a kind of Venn diagram, and who knew exactly where the shaded or thatched area might be? I did what I could: I assembled piles of poems, then I separated them into thematic piles (nature / grieving / pantoums and villanelles / and miscellaneous, which of course was the most towering of all). I threw away the superfluous copies, and decided on which one of the multiple versions I would keep, based on my own impeccable taste. And then, one by one, I began to compile them into a Google doc, which I could share with my siblings, and their siblings.

As I wrote, or rather transcribed, my mood darkened. Was it that I was passing judgment on my mother? I held some paper in my hand, and it was my job, seemingly, to say yes, it would survive. It was worthy. A grad student, scrounging for a dissertation topic a century hence, would settle on “The Popular Rise of Poetry in Regional Wisconsin in the Late 20th Century.” And then, wow—my mother’s words on the shadbush blooming next to her house! Whitman had his lilac; my mother her shadbush!

There were two problems, as I waded through my mother’s poems, so often containing scribbled revisions (her handwriting deteriorated through the years, as he eyes failed and her hands grew weaker….) First of all, I became convinced: her poetry may have been of variable quality, but very little of it was actually bad. She had read, after all, a lot. One of her poems, which I had never seen before, had been titled “…the letting go.” I immediately wondered: why the quotes? And why the points of ellipsis and the lower-cased letters?

The poem contained the clues: an aging professor is trying to remember a quotation by Emily Dickinson, and the quotation, of course, was “first chill, then stupor, then the letting go.”

So there was every reason for her to have been a good poet. And as her star rose in my horizon, my own star crashed through the thin outer atmosphere, met the oxygen, and vaporized. I could no longer write, and had to admit the truth: I was a writer of little skill and with nothing to say. I had resurrected one writer and killed another.

It was, after all, the last thing I would do for my mother. I had taken her out of a box in a room in an apartment on a street in Puerto Rico, and I had put her into cyberspace.

She is free, and now is gone.