Through Ravines

February by Michael Sowa

February by Michael Sowa

12 November 2013
7:16 PM
Manila

M.–

So long as we’re talking about dust, let me be the first to admit that lately all my bookshelves have been dusty. No time for me to clean my office these days, my head always bent on work or poetry class, which is ending soon. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling restless–because of all the dust, because of ModPo ending. I don’t know, probably both?

So long as we’re talking about books, let me tell you about who’s reading here at home, and what they’ve currently got their hands on: Papa does not plan on reading anything until after he retires. That’s a strange commitment to make, but he says that if he ever gets started on all his books, he wouldn’t stop, and he wouldn’t get out of the house. Ever. He has a company to run, so he needs his focus there. At least, that’s what he says. For now he continues his habit of collecting all the Robert Ludlums, all the Ken Folletts, all the Tom Clanchys, all the John Grishams. When I’m sixty-five, he says. My mother is satisfied with her iPad, which I’ve fortified with a hundred or so romances and thrillers. The rest of her pocket books–those which covers boast of women with heaving breasts and creamy shoulders–are kept in boxes for now. She plans on putting them again on new shelves, but at the moment couldn’t be bothered to part with the latest Nora Roberts or Sandra Brown. My eldest sister is glued to the television every night, watching soap operas. My younger sister’s nose is buried in her medical books. One of her favourite things to do is to shock me with graphic, disgusting images of intestines or skin diseases. She waits for me to be completely absorbed in what I’m doing, then calls my name. When I turn my head towards her, she’s got a large book open to page three hundred and six and I see a flash of skin and blood before I am closing my eyes and shouting oh god no not again. My youngest sister is switching back and forth these days between Alex Cornell’s Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination and her laptop, where she is doing her design plates for class. She is going to display her work in an exhibit soon, along with her classmates, as part of their final project. I introduced her to Cornell’s work when I was just beginning my studio, telling her how enamored I am with the way he writes and designs.

So long as we’re talking about what people are currently reading, let me say that I am still in thick of Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein, some fan fiction (okay, A LOT), George R.R. Martin, and Poets on Painters: Essays on the Art of Painting by Twentieth-Century Poets.

So long as we’re talking about a dusty book in particular, it is most definitely Road to Ophir: The Autobiography of a Prospector by Rex Tremlett. I am never going to read this book. I found it for five pesos on a second-hand shop, its cover a bit tattered, although the hard binding is still intact. I took one look at it and immediately I knew what I was going to do.

So long as we’re talking about making art, or trying to make art, and destroying a book, or rationalising that it is not, after all, destroying, if you’re using it to create something else–here is a sample page that I’ve experimented on:

Awake (19 April 2013)

Awake (19 April 2013)

Awake

Loved,
her companionship
established
daily life:

adventurous
awake
examined.

I was saying
someone called my name.

You.

Never less,
often,
through ravines,
and

All the time
loudly.

Goodnight,
T.

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