Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"absent from my city"

Bonnington asked about his plans. Bobby
said he still had his scholarship, going
nowhere but back to school. Bonnington asked
why. Bobby told him the longer version
of his ambivalence about learning:
I do what I must to make a story,
why I always watched a lot of movies
and made up a play that would speak and move,
convert the stage into a narrative.
I would watch John Huston’s Maltese Falcon
or the Treasure of Sierra Madre,
then read Dashiell Hammett or B. Traven
so I might comprehend adaptation.
I thought I could measure Aristotle
against the action rising to a point
of conflict–I love that word denouement
and trace the fall back into normalcy.
Are you sure it’s Aristotle, Bobby?
Maybe Plato’s cave, Bobby quipped, shadows
from the projection room against the wall.
I do what I have to for a story.
Doesn’t every writer? Bonnington asked.
Bobby didn’t know writers. His teachers
read his work like they read everyone else.
He even read what his teachers published.
There was one whose novel he loved. It was
about this guy who comes back home to find
his little brother running with a gang
led by a young woman who wants this guy
for herself, a fierce bitch he doesn’t want
his brother hanging with, and meantime falls
for this woman and plans to marry her
but first must free his brother from the gang.
A little like Blackboard Jungle, he ends.
Bonnington asked him what he was writing.
Nothing. I hope to write of my mother,
Henrietta Murphy. I know her name,
little else. I dig under the surface
of this city. It helps to be born here.
Yet I know so little I have grown ill,
so aggrieved by ignorance I have done
nothing, and am absent from my city.

(8 February 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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