Work begins in the intersection of night and day; in darkness. Material life tumbles out onto me. Heavy life. How can I carry it? How bear it, aching? “I am overwhelmed,” I complain to John as he plans his garden, soon to be added to our care. I imagine vegetables tumbling into sinks, soil everywhere, choking the spaces, taking the time, burying us in tangles of vines, clumps of rot, bubbling pots of produce, the heat of summer kitchen when already we have too much. I have too much. I’m bent under the too much. Dust collects on books, on trinkets, keepsakes. I can’t breathe due to the weight of it. It is a grave.
Tucked into crannies wait the refuse of past years. 1985. I find an expanding file of letters, cards, clippings, while searching for fragments of time with Marie—her poems, snatches of words collected before we had e-mail and the pulse of life in my mind flowed through a pen onto paper. The press of pencil or pen onto the page carried the life of the person’s hand. The length of a line carried across the page before the hand released and lifted. Death has taken the bodies of the people who held the pen, but their lives remain in the lines.
How can I rid myself of such evidence? How can I live underneath it? Here is a letter from someone named Michele. Lines bend beneath her feelings. My eyes touch the lines like fingers touching her skin, tracing a path of tears down her face. She left my life almost fifty years ago, but the letter remains. It is a relic. It has power. One only letter such as this could be framed and worshipped as a fragment left behind of God.
Creation requires space. Even burial under beauty, under love, under food will choke out life, will suffocate. But each fragment pleads to remain, to be.