Original layout of "Boo, Forever" by Richard Brautigan
I keep coming back to Richard Brautigan today, for a number of reasons. Today is a reverent day, to remember those that perished in or have suffered the hurt of loss from the bombing of the trade center ten years ago. I think it’s also important to remember how that reverberated afterwards, from subsequent bombings and attacks during this war (both here and abroad, to not only Americans, but nationals of many countries and beliefs.) There are some universals that anyone can relate to, loss being a strong one.

Surviving, in this instance, means an experience of absence. When I think of “experience”, I think of what it means to have an awareness of space and time, and all of the contingencies that are almost ignored through a repetitive exposure to them. These create the ambience, whether it be the 60 cycle hum of electricity, or the sound of another person walking through a room for the millionth time. My vet told me a story once of how one of the other clients had lost his dog, and kept mistaking everything he saw out of the corner of his eye for it, a recurring sense of that loss based on a lack of finding when looking for the familiar. It is this disappointment, reinforced so often by a sensory disjunction, that is one of the most poignant and painful parts of the grieving. So memory becomes insidious in the spaces and places we move through, as it stretches forward and backward in time.

But back to Brautigan. I’ve been reading some of his poetry in relation to a piece I’m working on, and looking at how his poetry was presented in a few different formats (reading with music, designed on the page with images and odd word placement, printed in different volumes of work.) The following struck particularly today:

Boo, Forever

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
top,
I’m haunted by all
the space that I
will live without
you.

*you can listen to Brautigan reading this poem here.

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