i’ve broken the promise to myself. (about turning on the computer after dark. it’s 11pm.)
there are things to say about today
(like shredding carrots and slicing squash to the sounds of
a tribe called red, santigold, kishi bashi and solange
like granola the cat walking back down the road from the dead
so far that she is eating medicine
like a field trip to zimms with emory in the back seat
and standing at his side as he counts his change at the register
red cheeked and shy
like the snow mica sees from upstairs karma
that i don’t really curse, but something like it
like cooking a meal, every component of which tastes good to me
which rarely happens)
but i feel like i’m dead-ending in this detailing
(the way i show up to it, grumbling, draggy-footed, thinking no, there is nothing remarkable to note – even though it’s far from the truth)
and there is nothing in the news about water. (or, there is too much)
is it a good practice i find myself asking myself a lot these days
is it any good if i show up to it grumbling?
have i become a factory? like ca conrad talks about?
in the process of distracting myself from the task at hand, i open the family photos my aunt scanned in and put on discs for us this christmas. most of the photos come without stories attached (as in: most of them i am seeing for the first time in my life. these photos lived in a box at grandma’s (janina’s), but we didn’t bring them out because if we did, she would get lost in the sadness.
so i thought about writing to the people in the photos. or whatever comes up (directly or indirectly) in response to or in conversation with these photos.
i looked at photos of the oldest brother and thought that’s the one that turned mean (stories of underwater dunkings).
i looked at photos of the youngest brother and thought that’s the one (sweet/tender) that died of a drug overdose. he’s the one who i thought sometimes looked something like jesus in the other photos of him i have seen before. those photos lived in a different place – my mom’s album, so i could look whenever i wanted without the risk of pitching someone into a pit of sad.
what struck me the most was the smile on janina’s face in the older ones. never seen her face so soft and light. never seen her smile melt her own hardness like that. what also struck me was how different jozef (my grandpa) looked over time. mostly because i didn’t know him over time (died from complications of lou gehrig’s disease when i was five. strong heart the nurse said. and it was. the machines said so.) and because i didn’t know him over time, he looks like a new self in each photo.
the first two photos are from the old country (poland/germany). jozef and janina met in a nazi work camp. (this is the part of the story i always wonder is it necessary to tell?) they eventually left on a boat figuring the promise of the unknown was better than the dust and brokenness of the known. they came in through ellis island. my mom’s name is there. on the american immigrant wall of honor. (next to jozef and janina’s and hendrik’s and kazimiera’s).
i want to know that janina. (the one below on the left). even though i assume this is post-workcamp, it’s still before her sadness calcified.
in the bottom photo, i am alive, but out of the frame.