bas relief of home

I find it impossible to title posts before I’ve written them (titling poems is even harder– thinking up lines that might serve for titling is a doomed venture, viable poems seldom proceeding, yielding virtual drawers full of unused lines too singular to incorporate organically). typically I stumble over possible title words like gravel while drafting, tumbling handfuls to good-feeling combinations in the process of editing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the many possible places, instants, and details that define “home,” having just visited one of them– and having even more recently returned to another. homes that were and homes that are. I return to snow and blackened streets, brown-black trees, things standing out in the cold as outlines of themselves, palimpsest of footprints ringing the park.

I sit beside the front window of my third floor apartment and reacquaint myself after days away with the sensory details of daily life in these parts– pedestrian traffic, street traffic, train bell clanging. suburbia was and is another world, both different from and the same as it once was: new shiny stores, parking lots, municipal library; eternal mothers with coiffed greying hair, christmas-themed sweaters of primary colors, ankle length fur coats tip-tapping across the street in the village; tailgating drivers, deserted streetscapes dotted with for sale or lease signs, christmas light festooned front lawns and orderly facades.

my mother in perpetual powder blue robe and quilted slippers; my mother seeking me out around midnight with a flashlight through the dark back hallway to where I lie in bed after tiptoeing in from visiting with my sister; my mother laughing off losing her train of thought, apologizing for eating slowly, backseat driving turn by turn by turn, my mother’s running commentary; my mother gone to bed early, sleeping late, talking from the other room; my mother’s saved gift boxes and cereal boxes, magazines and clothing, my mother’s plenty drifting spare rooms and closets, sediment of intention burying itself– my mother, my self.

my father sitting reading enormous tomes in his barrel-backed library chair, my father typing away at the computer in my old bedroom for hours, finishing the times sunday crossword puzzle at the breakfast table in minutes; my father cooking farm-delivered bacon for breakfast, four slices each, hunks of meat roasted to succulence, damned roast beef hash; my dad scowling and false-laughing and real(I think) laughing, telling tales at the dinner table; my father looking down, taking his time to answer, not hearing, my father enduring.

last night I dreamed of a prep school reunion set at huron mountain– convergence of anxieties and identities and situational drama. the details are sketchy at best, eroded to the vaguest feeling.

historical blogging self-reflection

so in the process of preparing to backup/migrate all of my vox site to wordpress, I’m going through and changing posts and photos marked for friends or neighborhood viewing/commenting only to viewable by anyone– where I can. in a couple of instances I’m removing from online publication altogether where I fear the possible harm done to family feelings might be too great– but in most cases I’m choosing to view this as an honest retrospective history and biting the bullet of making it (mostly) all public. which is a really weird and uncomfortable experience.

one of the big things vox has provided is a semi-private-public space in which to process feelings by making posts publishable only to select designated online friends and neighbors. this capability has, I now realize, resulted in a substantively greater sense of verbal license, a heightened level of honesty and decreased degree of self-editing than would ordinarily be the case.

writing in the semi-public blogosphere has for me constituted an extended exercise in learning about personal truth and narrative boundaries– what is it okay for me to air abroad? what is it okay for the people I care about to read in a public forum? the two things not always being synonymous. in the final, or at least current, analysis I seem to come down on the side of airing rather more overt honesty than is typical. then again, I am, ultimately, a poet and nonfiction writer of the confessional bent. so these are issues that come with the territory.

only here a new twist on that old and recurring theme.