Mudlark No. 56 (2015)


Stuck. But not (knock on wood) as if I’d had a stroke/can’t pull up the words. And not as if the words we love aren’t close at hand—those that stretch & bend, take big leaps to do the job—but stuck with Sam in mind.

Sam was in my class one year: third row, first seat. Would not do a bit of work, that kid (liked to read, not write), but bright—good to talk with. Tough guy. Big arms. T-shirt sleeves rolled up.

The boss asked, and I said yes: I’d train the new Ms. Reese—bored at home, she told me, thought I’d like to teach. And I tried. But she spoke to the kids from on high. Not that her thoughts took flight, that’s for sure. Nope: she was deaf to what Sam would tell her—his soft voice each day when she’d toss clots of words their way: Break it down, Ms. Reese, Sam would say, break it down—teen boy-coach right in front of her with a truth she would not hear.

Turned out Reese had some screws loose, had to leave. I won’t get into that. But Sam’s words stay with me: Break it down.

But can one break it down, to nuts & bolts, joists, beams, then build it up, walls cranked straight & tight, sheath the roof, tar it? And what’s more, can one break it down for those who’ll live there—claim some space for them or mark their loss?

The thing is, here, try to tell some truth: use one beat to do it—notes to rise, fall, mix to chord—one hopes sing——and not play coy with it but stay with it, force the thing day by day toward core/corps of one, move in the world as if not changed, speak the same, read the same good books, but when it’s time to write, break it down, and down, and down.

Gerald Fleming | Mad Cell Suite
Contents | Mudlark No. 56 (2015)