Friday, February 12, 2010

Hawthorne & Hunter

The evanescence of home is old hat.

The moment we’re cognizant enough to call home home is the moment we begin to leave it, boxing up our clothes and books, our souvenirs of self –yearbooks and love letters, snapshots and diaries- and shipping them forward into some blazing future in which home has evaporated like puddles after a blow-through.

Either you leave home or home leaves you: these are the rules of doomed love.

You love anyway. Who among us can draw ourselves up short, force our hearts to heel, beg, sit? You grow up in a place so you let it enter you, train its history to yours. The berry patch where you discovered blood; the intertwining of tree roots with dead gerbils; the porch where the neighbor took a rifle and, after decades of hogging the cherries, stopped his mouth with red.

Oh, home. Fireflies; stars; wet earth. The reek of the place, lily of the valley mixed with worm and hill and rotting wood. You learn the names of everything; you learn the uses. Grape vines and may apples, sassafras and tulip trees; swinging and bursting, tea and glory.

To harp on home’s disappearance, to chart its vanishing tide, is formulaic at best and, at worst, cliché. Who hasn’t lost home -mislaid it or wandered away from it or let it slip or torn it, with deliberation, to bits?

Yet, like the immortal interval stuck in the craw of Beethoven Five, the theme needs rearticulation. Sounded not once, but again, again, transposed and transformed, diminished, trilled.

Every grain of home that dribbles away, every stone heaved up, is fresh. Home has a million ways to break you. No two fractures are alike, they say, and no two fingerprints; we have a hundred ways of telling these things these days.

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