Micrograffiti: Blue Grate by John W. Evans01/12/2010
At first, he told himself that grief was a shallow bowl filled with water, and when you carried it, it spilled, and when it spilled you filled it again. Those were the days of walking across the state highway to the video store, coffee shop, supermarket. Always, the same path back, in front of the same neighbor’s house, with the dog and the electric fence. When the city replaced traffic lights with roundabouts, his name appeared in the paper. He had said something about it to a woman outside of the hardware store. That evening, he decided to leave the state. The seal on his driver’s license was out of date. His bumper: last election. Later, he would miss the certainty of repetitive acts, day after night watching full seasons of old television shows. They embraced variations on the same kinds of redemption—charity, sublimation, self-actualization—that he found comforting, then suffocating. Too much stasis and compromise. The homilies set to tasteful pop-rock. Grief, he decided, should be linear, then unremarkable. There were words for loss too finite for suffering.
John W. Evans is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University