Wednesday, June 20, 2007

call me ishmael


this is my grandmama's house. she died when i was in college. i remember my dad calling in the middle of the night to tell me she would be dead by morning, how she had chewed her own tongue off, and i was incredibly stoned and dry mouthed and i didn't care and couldn't think of anything to say. my uncle lives in that house now. i spent the majority of my childhood with him. while everybody else was learning how to ride a bike my uncle was teaching me to be a revoloutionary. i spent my seventh year telling anyone who would listen that i didn't need a weatherman to tell me how the wind blew. sometimes when i look at him surrounded by notebooks and art books and clippings, pills and disjointed musings scribbled on the backs of coffee stained circulars, i feel ashamed of myself for never becoming anything. my uncle knows more stories than anybody and i always wanted to hear them. after he told me the story of moby dick i wanted to draw it. i stacked books in between our papers because i didn't trust him not to look. we both drew pictures of the white whale sinking the ship but mine included ishmael floating on queequeg's coffin. because if ishmael hadn't survived, i explained, we wouldn't know the story.

yesterday i played with clay while he perused genesis for intimations of lilith. "'god said, let us make man in our own image, in the image of ourselves.' who is us? hm." the thwack of pages thumbed through frenetically as his inquisition changes course. "here." i set my clay creation in front of him. "this is fall on his knees man." he stares at it for a minute furrowing his brow. "you don't like him?" out of the pandemonium that is his living room he produces a book on rembrandt in less than three seconds. "he's not 'fall on his knees man.'" he says. "he's lazaurus."
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