Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ever Green

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8, NIV)

Turn Me to My Yellow Leaves
By William Stanley Braithwaite
TURN me to my yellow leaves,

I am better satisfied;

There is something in me grieves—

That was never born, and died.

Let me be a scarlet flame
On a windy autumn morn,

I who never had a name,

Nor from breathing image born.

From the margin let me fall

Where the farthest stars sink down,
And the void consumes me,—all

In nothingness to drown.

Let me dream my dream entire,

Withered as an autumn leaf—

Let me have my vain desire,
Vain—as it is brief.
--The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.
How I long to be evergreen, staunch and determined, instead of curling in on myself, a yellowed, crunchy leaf. Though I haven't felt the wind of an Ohio fall in so many years, the cool blows through me still. It seems all my seeds, my never born, or born and gone, came to me in autumn, drew my knees up in the wake of winter. This year is no different. In spite of my favorite lipstick and and the sweet drape of my best scarf, I feel the chill, the crunchy biting soul-cold, threatening my bonefire. If not for His hands cupped 'round my small flame, for His lush grace like a carpet between my feet, I would blow away, barren of word and prayer.
Thank God He is ever green.
I am no such thing and once was so much worse. Saturday was the Day of Atonmenent. I didn't realize it until evening that I'd missed the whole Rosh Hoshannah hush. I'm not Jewish (just grafted in), but I seem to ebb and flow in tune with the their calendar. Especially in Fall, when yesterdays rush up around my eyes, filling my head with wide-eyed women twisting their wedding rings, and girls in tennis bracelets holding hands with their laughing fathers. And me, alone. Always alone. They'd drop me off, pick me up, but never stay. Not my friends, not my boyfriends, not my mother. Though it wasn't really "wrong", nobody wanted to bloody their hands or watch me cry, see me make for the door and come back, beg God for another chance even though there weren't any more. Watched me glisten auburn, copper, gold...and then curl up dried. Empty.
Next month, my Jewell, the one who started it all will be 20. I pray for her always, hope she's wise and good, godly and strong. Pray that if I met her this side of heaven she won't be ashamed. And the others? I see them in my dreams, long and luscious with Black-eyed Susan eyes. They smile and wave, knowing that I can take that now, that inspite of my thin-veined heart and yellowed pain, I can wave back. Smile.
I can't do it really, but He can. For He is always strong.
Ever green.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Word of our Testimony

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11, NIV)
We're on a movie kick around here. For like three years, I didn't watch any. My head was so far in a book it was all I could do to keep the house going. Now I seem to be back with the world again (as far back as I can get) and catching up a bit. In the past week, we say Mean Girls (wowza, do girls talk like that in high school? Guess so. I did. Scary.), 50 First Dates (Okay perhaps Adam Sandler will not die from stupidity. Rob Shneider on the other hand...is a fool in need of serious counseling. The ending? Wonderful.). And then, last night, I finally caught Castaway.
I know what you're thinking, "Huh? Uh, Mary that is so old and oddball." True enough, but I try to catch most things with Tom Hanks or Robin Williams. They take on diverse projects and make me think about story in weird ways.
This time was no exception. After surviving what my husband swears were hours of Hanks on the beach with his bloody volleyball named Wilson (I laughed. He rolled his eyes. Yet Adam Sandler cracks him up. Figures) I got to the end of the movie, the brink of the whole thing...and here comes a commercial.
My daughter got comfortable, like we do for these types of endings. Not quite the cry posture, but at least the grab your throat and sigh pose.
The screen flashed. We pulled closer and...
The credits rolled. My husband strolled by with a buffalo wing, laughing his way back to the football game I'd missed to see this.
Nobody turned off the TV. We just stared. At each other. At the ceiling. I thought,"Please God, don't ever let me do this to somebody. Ever!" LOL
When I finally pulled myself together, my daughter exploded. "What was in the box? What do the wings mean? How'd she get that cute shirt living out in the boonies? What's the dog's name?"
"Yeah! And what was up with the husband sleeping through the taxi visit? And those maps on the table?"
I nodded, but that wasn't it. I realized that I live certain actors and certain producers because whether they know it or not they give me a Jesus moment, a slice of raw truth, pure hope. Not sappy necessarily, but something that says to me, "Yes, He was in it all along." This time, I only got to sniff it, sight it for off like a cloud the size of man's hand.
But I can't be real mad at that writer. I do it too, stop short of the ending. My ending. We all do. I met so many writers this past weekend who want to write like anybody but themselves. Writers especially are weird this way. We all feel compelled to tell others what they should write, what they should feel, even when we don't what to do with our own stuff. People did that to me for years, still do it.
Why? Because the church and some of the industry is doing it to them. People want the story, but not the whole soul-shaking, raw, bleeding thing. Do we want to stay safe in our churches in some make believe Christian world or overcome the enemy? I wonder. The tools that take him down are the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, the fingerprint of our pain, the tapestry of our hope.
So wherever you are today, being God's living book, his moving story, don't tape shut the good parts or flip past the bad ones. Tell people what's in the box, who is in it--Jesus. He's the wings, the mystery, the whole thing. And if you're a writer, don't try and be anybody else. God already has one of them. There is only one strange and wonderful you. :)
Find your rhythm and play it to THE END.
Peace : Mary

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Wings of Morning

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. (Pslam 139: 9, 19, NKJV)
I love this verse. And after returning from a writer's conference in Denver last week, I really appreciated it more. I flew out the morning after hurricane Ivan blew in west of us. All the flights before and after me were cancelled. Every hub but Delta was dark.
"Is the flight still on time?"
A kind man grabbed my bag and sort of waved me along. "Yep. You coming?"
Sure. Of course. I mean it's not we were flying into the storm, right? We were going to Atlanta. And besides, like my husband so stoically informed me, they have to fly over the hurricanes to take those cool "eye of the storm" photos. So yeah, I'm coming, Queen of the Carry-On bag, hoping that me and the check-in stuff all arrives at the same place.
On the plane, the biggest, brightest looking young man sat next to me, all full of smiles and freckles. He looked like an ad for Young Life or the Future Christian Leaders of America if there is such a thing. He tucked all six-feet something of himself into the seat, looking confident and secure. I smiled, but trembled a little, realizing that I was actually going to the conference and what that might mean. For the past few days, I'd only concentrated on whether or not the planes were flying and if I still had a seat. Now, none of it seemed too important and there was still my hair to untwist and my afro to create so I did the noble thing and went to sleep...
I guess that was a good idea, that nap, but when I woke up to the plane being dribbled through the sky like basketball, sleep was no longer an option. Mr. Future President looked smaller all of the sudden as he leaned toward me.
"You're praying, right?"
I nodded, wondering how he knew. (Perhaps if I was sitting next to a big, black woman with a Bible the size of Texas, I'd be hoping she was praying too) As we skittered around the sky like a flea instead of a jumbo jet, I sat in awe of God's power, that His breath alone could sweep the heavens clean. There was a tornado below us, they said and a hurricane under that. Everyone looked down, but no one dared speak.
Everyone but me.
I looked up, out. We passed a cloud that looked like a giant hand with fingers curled around the plane's wings. We bounced again, harder this time. I closed my eyes, knowing that regardless, He was there. Here.
As we landed, I woke up, just in time for my next flight. We all shuffled off, thanking the pilot and crew for their diligent flying. Some paused in the walkway to take a deep breath, others ran to their loved ones and clung tight. I moved slow at first and then picked up speed as I felt a shout forming in my belly, a praise shooting up my throat. He'd been with me again, even on the wings of the morning.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Such a Violent Storm

Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4, NIV)
There's a storm coming.
In me.
Unlike the hurricane raging this way, I didn't have any warning. None at least that I wanted to admit. None I could deny. The first wind I heard, like a train soon to derail was tonight while watching John Q.
"I'll be with you always, Son," Denzel said, then fisted the boy's chest. "Right here."In that moment, in that second, I saw--felt--a fresh image of Jesus. Of sacrifice. Of love. Something else stabbed my mind. A memory. The intangible smell, the horrid funk of fear. Of death.
There it was again. That squeezing. I closed my eyes. It wasn't like I could see my toes anyway. My belly had devoured them months ago. Even with the bedrest, the stillness, the praying, it kept coming, that squeezing. My husband's breath fell in heavy layers on my necks, sheets of overtime breath. His deepest sleep in a long time, I knew. A sweaty little boy was beside him, finally sleeping after being scared out of bed by what he'd felt. That one is sensitive. Even more than me. He'd smelled something, he said. Now, I smelled it too.
In the spirit.
Something in the air. Something foul.
They're going to die, the thing whispered, curving around me. Around them. You cannot have them.
It had scared me the first time. For all my charasmatic memories, I'd always been brighter than darkness. My Bible verses had always swept such scents, such hauntings away. But this time, these babies, two instead of one--sons of thunder, men of God--this time was different. I'd long since stopped talking to the pitch, rebuking, wailing. Save that for televangelists. It's exhausting. I turned to Him instead. I am afraid. Please. Help me.
Trust me.
The pressure flared to pain. I rocked slowly, flipping onto my side. My husband's breath paused, then whistled low. I could wake him, get someone from church over to watch the kids...but he'd miss work. Miss money. I had to be strong. Fight.
"You okay?"
It's hurting now. Bad. "No."
We stare at each other then, in the darkness. Even in the dark, I can see his face tighten, his forehead pinch. It's been this way other times. They'll give me a shot. It'll take enough of the night to leave him asleep at the wheel tomorrow. He'll come, I know that, but he doesn't have to. Not tonight. I shuffle up, grab the keys.
"I'll call you when I get there."
When I called, it wasn't the usual news. The shot didn't work. Nothing did. The funk of fear grew, multiplied. The thing mocked me behind the doctor's eyes. "You'll have to stay here until you deliver."
I stare at him, counting the days, weeks, months. Impossible. "I can't stay. I have other children. My husband he has to work."He rolls his eyes, brown like mine. I know what he is thinking, but he's wrong. We have been working, always. I kept three jobs before and even now still tutor on the side, but he has been working, doing things no one should do. Things his mind is too sharp for. But they don't want his mind. They want his back. This man though, who kills babies as well as saves them, would know nothing about that. About us. We are the faceless poor. The nameless nothing.
A nurse comes. The worship channel is playing. I cannot take preaching right now. Just this. The music. I can't even take the lyrics. Everyone who will help me has less and yet more than me. The others, I would never ask. Though their eyes aren't brown like the doctor's, their hearts match. No matter how I figure it, it won't add up. I drift off and she is there, the nurse. A solid woman, someone's grandmother. Someone who would definitely know how to quiet a baby or make cookies without refrigerated dough.
"You are a Christian," she says, more statement than question. Her fat hangs over the rail. That comforts me, reminds me of my grandmother's arms, flabby and capable.
"I am." Does my doubt show? Is my voice trembling? I don't feel like I believe in anything.
I believe in you.
Something happens then, a hazy honeysuckled something. The funk is gone and though her lips are still, her belly still embedded in the rail, the nurse is talking, moving. It's a humming noise and I'm fading away, into sleep, away from the flashing lights, growing closer and closer together, despite the medicine.
"Rest," she says as I disappear. "The road is long."
Where her hand was, plump and strong on my arm, there is something cold. A scream shatters my sleep.
"What is going on?" There are people moving around me in a hospital-green blur. I hear, try to understand. The IV has been only draining saline all night. I've dilated another centimeter. How come nobody knew? How come nobody did anything? Now she'll have to stay for sure, one says. Maybe even be turned upside down. She can't even go to the bathroom. They're still shouting, wondering why nobody did anything.
I'm wondering too. Not about them, but about Him. This is no name-it-claim-it faith, no level one thing. I offered Him my body when He asked me whose it was. That womb, I knew without looking was tired of growing fruit, but never tasting. He restored. Gave back. Now if He wanted to take away--me, them--what couldI say? Do? I'm too tired. I fade. He does too.
Brown Eyes is hovering over me. His stethoscope bangs my nose. He doesn't apologize. His kind never do. I think of the others, the bald twitchy one, the funny woman, the sun-kissed midwife who the state says can't help me now. It's been a long winding circle, one that brought me back to the painful beginning. Back to this brown, wiry man who has saved and taken many lives. He musters a fake smile, one believed years ago when I saw it the first time. The smile is an offering, but he doesn't go as far as to feign enthusiasm.
"You're in luck. We're sending you home."
The nurse drops something, but recovers nicely.
I don't speak, just look at him. Hard. I'm searching. There it is, in his left pupil. Just a glint, but it's there. I can't smell it, but I see it plain. He's weighed the money and I don't add up. I have enough children. What are two more? He's doing me a favor. That's what the thing told him. That's what he believes.
But that's okay. I have my own flinty eyes, set in wait for rescue, for salvation, though my once ironclad faith seems flimsy now. This battlefield is different from the others. Still, I wait. Beg. Plead. Only silence answers.
Silence and the sound of rickety wheels come to transport me to uncertainty, a hand drawn carriage to the tempest, an escort to the eye of the storm.
"Make money, son. Make lots of it. Even if it means selling out a little. Don't be a fool like me." Though Denzel was acting, it wrecked me. I remembered that feeling, in the wheelchair. Wishing I'd been better, done more, had money and a silk robe like the other woman who looked away as I rolled past her bed. There wasn't much I was good at, unless reading counted for something. There was the math, of course. I'd tried it all, but this was what He asked of me.
The serpent's question, so long silent, echoed. "Has God truly said?"
I shrugged, my cocky arrogance scraped clean, my Jesus flag blown away. Only one baby was moving now. I told them, but they just pushed faster. I did too, inside myself, running grabbing. If I lived through this, I'd have to do something. Be something. Maybe I'd write again... Words were free, weren't they? There was a storm coming, I'd have to figure it out later.
Next month, the twins will be four years old. I'd forgotten the storm, the stink, but it remembered me. This past week He held me silent in preparation, boarding up my soul.
There's a storm coming, one that threatens to blow my doors off. Oh yeah, and there's that hurricane headed this way, too.
I don't know which one scares me more.

Monday, September 06, 2004

A New Thing

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)
That was quick, huh? So much for my solemn quietness. I got alone, preparing for the months of monastic silence and--I know this sounds really televangelistic, but bear with me--God laughed at me.
For real.
A deep down belly laugh, a rumbling of love, followed by, um, was that giggling? He came to me like a blanket, like a kiss and in that moment I saw it. The same thing as always. Fear. Escape. Though I'm leaving behind religion for relationship, I still crave it's corrals, safe nooks of do's and don'ts. Being here makes me feel uncertain, makes me remember what I was, what I still can be.
Unfortunately, I know these things by other names now. "Inappropriate." "Out of control." "Blunt." My wild praising, crying, writing ways have never been accepted by church people and in a last ditch effort to be good, I rejected them, too, curling my nostrils at others who dared be the woman I'd been.
They're going to put her out, I'd think and turn my head, praying that she would not be broken. Not me, I said. I didn't do such things.
But I did.
I do.
At home with my children, I twirl and dance, scream and wail, play purple tambourines and sing off key. Loud. One of my children has acquired the habit. While the rest of the youth remains silent or whispers softly, coolness in tact, she throws back her head, shouts from her heart and thinks them odd for not doing the same. I envy her that. The not knowing. I pray she won't ever know.
But there, under the rumble of God's sweet laughter, his chuckling at my great concerns, I remembered that I am just a storyteller, and that even I have a story. In these years of stuffing, varnishing, filing smooth, I have not dared examine any of it. His light was too bright and besides, there was no time. No room. Fellowship takes time, trust, suffering, love. Little of that can be found in narrow church hallways or packed parking lots. And so I wrote. It was silent, safe, and consuming. I learned quickly that my kind of fire wasn't wanted, but perhaps something in the smolder had value, had power.
But here is not that way. Here is the whole red-hot stinking thing. The me I once was, the me that heard grace pounding away and flocked to it, taking someone by the hand. "Hear that?" I'd say. "Girl, forget it. All of it. He loves us. It's all good."
For so long though, I've been dancing alone, whispering to the skeletons of dandelions, swaying to the hush. It was so quiet that I didn't hear the scream ripping through me, until it ripped through the blogosphere. Even then, I only let the tip of it sound, though I so sought the roars of others.
And so, it seems that there will be none of that convenient Jesus-doesn't-like-this running. My girls (the ones in my head) are done fighting and have decided that they'd like hear my story...and theirs. A compromise.
Not easy for one such as myself. All or nothing is more my speed. But this, this book, this year, this life is something new. Something wonderful.
And frightening.
Pray that I will have the courage to taste it slowly, to dig deep, scraping the sides, licking the spoon. Pray that I will stay still long enough for Him to heal it all.

Quiet Confidence

The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says, "Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength." Isaiah 30:15
I've been a little quiet here lately. And rightly so. My thoughts about my little experiment here are mixed. Confused. What was to be the purpose of this place? I'm not sure, but certainly didn't go in any direction I expected. That, in itself, is good. My planning is generally not the best place to start.
It was a flood at first, the words, the thoughts, the poems that no one would really call poems. And that was wonderful then because I'd just finished a book, made new friends, discovered the blogosphere. Now, however, things have changed.
My characters are waking, waiting, pacing, while I siphon off a little of their juice into a cup for me to drink. I cup where no one can deny me the sweetness of truth, the lip-puckering angst of honesty. Who knew that so much censure had built up so many words, seeking a playground. That's what they sought at first, just a place to play. But now, I wonder if they don't seek an audience, don't desire to dance for a small crowd, then hide behind the curtain for applause.
That--the heady sentences peeking from behind the velvet curtain, lusting for approval, ears poised to hear the claps--is dangerous for me. It's dangerous for my characters. For if I find my release here, there will be no outlet for them. Already they are whispering amongst themselves, voices shrill and insecure.
"What's she doing?" they ask, nudging another who shrugs and turns away.
"Other stuff. That web thing. She's into that, you know. I read it. It's decent. Things we'd say if we could, but still..."
The first one, the one who is next, who has waited so patiently for her turn, looks troubled. "We're losing her, aren't we?"
Her friend, never one to be anything but true, nods and shakes the dust from his shoulders. "Yes, not all together, but yes."
And so I sit today trying to get back to them, to me, back to quiet confidence. Back to a hunger that drove me from my bed and kept me from sleep. Back to reality. I am not a non-fiction writer. I am not on hiatus. I am a novelist. Not the best one, either. There is so much to learn, so much to read, so much to write. It will take years to get where I want to be. Years and not a few. The words know that. They want to dance now. Today. But I must be careful, watchful that in their dancing they don't get hamstrung, wounded, unable to dance again.
I do not regret one word I've penned here and for the three or four people who've been reading, thank you. Thank you very much. It has been an honor for your eyes to pass over my weaknesses, to caress my hearts. For my blogger friends, I applaud your bravery, your strength. You have challenged me in ways you'll never understand.
For now though, I must return to Him, wait for Him. Wait for salvation, wait for Him to tell me a story, even if it's a story that I won't be allowed to share as meat, but rather a tale I will have to chew and spit into something liquid, something runny that I don't recognize. Even then, I must stay, wait, be quiet. He will save me.
He always does.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Love's Strength

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6, NKJV)
When Death Comes by Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
Being the bride is enough for me. The groom is too handsome to pass up. If she could muster such courage to face a dark cottage, should not I, facing an ever glory, live this way too? I want to. I try to. To be all here, all the time, bolted down in this world like a tv in a cheap hotel room. Yet, I cannot always. I am made of windows to the world invisible, one caulked with onion-thin pages and inky seas. It is that world where I twirl my truths on every side, peek beneath the belly of my beliefs. The world of make believe. It's strange, but wonderful.
Virginia Hamilton was like that. One of my first wonders. One of the first times I snuggled up in a dusty library and fell in love. There had been friendships, impartings, bonds of trust and understanding. But her books, her words, went beyond that. Like the Toni's, her long, strong words sifted through my fingers. I stretched my mind to catch even a syllable. I seldom did, but I always caught something. Something crazygood.
On the day Virginia died, twenty something years after our affair in the children's room, I awoke in pain, my mind ajar. I'd forgotten her. Let her behind, abandoned her. And for what? Books by grown ups who'd made up their minds about everything in order to say nothing. She was gone from me. Flown away. But only in part, for love is as strong as death. And the gift she left me, the best one, was a love, a giddy joy for books, a heart-stopping longing for libraries, a heart ever longing for the children's room.
I went to the library today, squatted down, forgot I was wearing a dress. Probably blinded some poor bloke behind me. I forget myself around so many books.
I always have.
It started long ago, back in a dusty corner of a library in Dayton, Ohio. It was the west side library, the black one, and I didn't go there often. I liked the smell of it though, like incense and rain. It was big and rumbling, smaller than the one downtown, but bigger too, you know? There was wood and not the flimsy kind of today, but glossy, sturdy, stood in the wind wood. My eyes tired from Roots and my head leaking Judy Blume (I'd just finished re-reading them all the day before), I sat in the corner and spied a curious book with a watercolor cover that seemed to bleed through to my hands.
The writer's name was unfamiliar, but the other books with her name there was the medal, the one that I knew meant something good. Only I didn't know how good. Crazygood. The title both confused and intrigued me. The Planet of Junior Brown. I stayed there in the dark myrrh that was the children's room and flew off somewhere.

"You okay?" It was my mother, sweaty from the gym, weary from her job, but loving me with all she had.

"No." No point lying. I wasn't okay. I never would be again. I'd read Maya by then, for the first time I think. Nikki. Mari. Even Gwendolyn the Great. But somehow this hazy dazy book brought all the music in my head together. The poetry.

And so I read more of it. As much of her I as could get. Zeely, M.C. Higgins, cousins and flying folk. I come back to them as an adult amazed at the depth and complexity. Even now, my poor children cringe when I go into Virginia mode.

"Can you just read Junie B. Jones?" they say, knowing that although Junie makes me ball up and scream in laughter, there are times for other things, other words. Words that paint thoughts, jump worlds, run on clouds. Every person needs a few of those. A Blue Eye, some salt-eaters, a little sula something. Some eyes to see God. Everybody needs it.
Especially me.
And she prepared me for them. Greased my wings.

When Virginia died, I mourned for her. And lately, I've been mourning for her again, wondering why I never went to her, why she never came to me. (Maya just ended up somewhere I was once). She lived in Yellow Springs, from where my own grandmother sprung, and there I was dangling between Springfield and Dayton on a kite, close enough to blow her my best kiss.
Why didn't I try and see her, know her? For one, I never knew she was there. In Ohio? I'd have never believed it. She certainly lived on her own planet, the planet of Junior Brown. Or perched on M.C. Higgins' pole each morning to reach the sun. Maybe she was like Zeely, six-feet-everything and towering over the world. But certainly she wasn't in Yellow Springs, loving a poet and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her two kids, dreaming for me in the pauses. It didn't occur to my childish mind. And what would have been the point really, meeting her? I'd never be closer to her in the flesh than I was on the page. Never.

Makes me wonder some about this mess I've made here, which is turning out to be more of a sappy teenage notebook than anything. But maybe that's good. Maybe sometimes you just have to let things be. Let them live. Let them die. I let Virginia die, go from me, but she is always here, in my mind with the others, dancing across the page, scatting around the letters, doing word jazz, book blues.
Maybe one day, when I'm dead yet alive, I can live on in somebody's head too.