Life and Chances

Early this morning–
I thought sincerely,
about being seen by others,
all for the better, of course,
and of having good things said.
So I thought to myself,
“I got another rep.”
Then I laughed out loud.

I saw myself in my mind, with a lady I don’t get along with. We were talking about her interest in astrophysics, entropy, and the fate of stellar universes. But then my voice interjected matter-of-factly, “She doesn’t want to be friends, Emma.”

I so wanted to leap again to those idyllic heights, assuaged by the dreamy security that none of what was imagined would come to pass, and hover in the delightful realm of possibilities.
Where movement costs no effort, so that things collapse into themselves as readily as they extend defiantly, though shell and schema fold, just like layers to the ocean.
And going back there seizes her higher thoughtfulness,
recalcitrant while entropic, into clutches of deep mystery,
where language speaks itself, fourfold,
interwoven as syntactic directories:
splayed toward higher dimensionality,
operating axioms implying triangularity,
referring always to elliptical logics that
find referents with reference to possibility itself,
coordinated in singular yet formulaic redundancy,
not from depth or reach or even breadth…
or retiary silver emerald webs, or pillars, spiraling minarets,
so elegant, gold and ivory, chryselephantine,
and delicate, too, vastly removed from need and energy.

But a gentler voice told me, and sang with my real beauty, of a gift from God, that dreams have lost whatever hypnotic character had held me outside of the truth, that they invite me into their majesty as readily as some cloudscape under dreaming colors of effulgence and dignity. Pipes, blaring, in united exaltation, elsewhere, completely– and so sad to tell another of this place, this unearthly place, which a poet called heaven, for it can be shown to no one else, because it becomes clearer each time, like an image over a still water on a barely hazy day with lingering saturation…

And I thought of math camp back in summer of third grade, using those green blocks representing decimal value integers. And then of how this “math camp,” as my parents had called it, was pretty engaging and interesting. I think it must have gone well for me not to have had any behavioral problems to memory. In any case, the feeling was one of doing well and enjoying learning about fractions and decimals. The teacher, who, oddly, escapes recollection, told my parents I was “good at story problems,” which is odd since I seemed to have done well in everything we went over. Story problems then were just as they are now, and that is to say, not that easy and not that fun.

Thinking back on this experience demonstrates my love of learning and abstract thinking. I have always loved these things throughout my lifetime. I am also very appreciative toward my parents for having given me this educational opportunity so early on in life. I was often cognizant of how they had started me nearly a year earlier than the other students in the same grade level. In fact, when it came to fifth grade, my parents were even able to arrange it so that I could leave math class early and go across the hall to Ms. Rosemary’s art classroom and hang out there for about thirty minutes or so. This was early afternoon, of course, as any Midwesterner would tell you. She was a well-mannered art teacher, and come to think of it, she had lovely, long blond hair with a hint of copper tones to its brunette and sandy coloring. She usually had it tied back and was a quiet lady.

My project, at which I worked for a at least a few weeks, and while I think on the other weeks of which, I can’t quite give satisfactory account, was to draw a biographical history of Van Gogh in a book I had made. I remember drawing a few pages in it. The book was very fascinating, though, and it is what I based the drawings on. It was a lovely oversize art book on the artist. I so loved his art at that time.

The local art museum was at the University of Michigan’s main campus in Ann Arbor—a fairly quiet and diverse college town (though revelry was widely accepted), with a large population of international students, a history of radical liberalism, and a tolerant pot culture, it was nevertheless a place that I was taken with right away. Stunning, while marble buildings in the neoclassical style, lawns, and bright students graced the campus, and its art museum was full of romantic landscapes on the first floor from painters in Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Most of these were more generally from the renaissances in those countries and onward through the late Nineteenth. There were two great statues by a French artist in the neoclassical rendition that are still there today.

My father would often take me there because he loved going there with me, and besides, knew by fifth grade, that I was different than the other children. We went to a Picasso exhibit several times. I took my art book and drew the artist’s “Lady with a Green Hat.” The book of colored paper I drew it in was made by my father’s first wife, though I only knew her after their divorce. Maryvonne actually made and bound it from scratch for me at her bindery one afternoon. Actually, it took the whole day, but was hugely exciting for me. I helped her carry out the whole process. At the end, we printed the cover with golden letters in a Roman typeset. The binding was black. Over the years, I drew many sketches in it.

Although my book of art was lost, like so many chances and accomplishments in life, I will not forget the honored memory and work of my parents, who fought for the brightness of their child’s future.


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