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Exploiting my correspondence for material

Posted by on March 29, 2004

At random I opened Anna Akhmatova’s poems today. Sleeping under a slip of paper which bore your old (760) and three-pronged name were these lines:

For one moment of peace here

I would give up the grave’s peace.

I have always used books as my oracles in this way. If a yarrow stick or a coin can be an oracle, why not the Word? To prove my point I have opened Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to this line: “The past, it seems, returns.” Proof positive: here I am, prodigal, holding your only name.

The question now becomes: which is the prophecy? Two lines of poetry on a securely-glued page? Or the loose-leafed name and number which have stuck to me so improbably for two, or is it three years? I will ask Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid. Page 46: “All this I would have seen if I was on the roof looking.” My interpretation of this answer, I guess, is to stop assigning blame to these inanimate ideas, turn off the laptop, get up on the roof and water my baby tomato plant.

And someday you will find some bit of me wrapped in a fortune cookie, and then you too can send vague, pompous emails out into the ether.

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