Monday, October 11, 2010

Passing Quietly

by Richard Crews
My point of consciousness seems significant to me--in fact, it seems like all there is. When I hear about things from other people or read about them in the newspaper, there is a different kind of reality associated with them--they seem more shadowy, more hypothetical.

Yesterday morning when I was walking in the woods, I stopped to rub some poison oak leaves on my arm. Bright, red-lacquered leaves they were--autumn's finest--which I have heard are particularly potent in bringing on the rash. I rubbed them hard against my arm. It's now been 36 hours and I've had no reaction to them.

I tell you this because the incident was a quiet, passing moment in my life. I did not plan it in advance; and I had no particular expectations for it. It could have been fraught with preliminary trepidation, or considerable lingering annoyance--but it was not. It will now fade from my memory as if it never happened.

Recently I had occasion to apologize to a young lady for a terrible, hurtful insult I leveled at her several years ago. As the anger of the moment subsided, guilt and sadness took its place. My apology was heart-felt--even laced with tears. But she said that she did not recall the incident.

My father died in 1963. Thirty years later I wrote a poem--

When I look back at the book my father wrote,
it is thinner than it was,
the pages fewer, the type fading,
the metaphors less vibrant year by year.

Soon there will be only a single page
with a single bleak and tired cliche
hardly visible among the wrinkled, acid-torn scraps.

Then he will be gone.

"Who?" people will ask if I chance to refer to him.

And I, when they ask--
I will not recall.

I wish I understood this stark dichotomy. My perceptions and recollections seem so vast--they fill up the world--they seem infinite. But they are also clearly zero.

I suspect that yours seem that way too.