There was a girl in class today who was giving a presentation on Susan Howe’s ‘The Midnight’. Her name was Wren and she wore a bright blue and green dress, almost consciously adopting her namesake’s feathers. As a prelude to her presentation she announced that she had been late to this semester of work because she had been responsible for organising her father’s funeral.
“My father died suddenly and unexpectedly…I decided to tell you because I can’t seem able to stop talking about it.”
It was as though saying it, in this classroom of strangers, was a reconfirmation of the fact.
She had polished-plum-deep nails and a lip-stud.
I felt gripped by an impulse to ask if she was OK but was caught by the absurdity of such an idea – of course she isn’t OK.
Maybe our trigger to ask such inadequate questions is a mask for our desire to show concern or empathy – it’s just that language is being inadequate again.
She said something so beautiful – ‘you should treat me as a really suspicious reader as I tried to use this text to work out how to reconstruct the pieces of a person after they’re gone.”