Friday, October 17, 2014

after reading margaret atwood's "bread"


Imagine a pen.  Not the fancy kind, like the ones you see in the hands of CEO's.  Nor a simple ballpoint in a student's hand.  I'm talking about a calligraphy pen with a silver tip.  The kind you imagine Shakespeare would have used to write sonnets about the sky.  It's a lightweight pen that feels cold to the touch.  When you grip it, you feel capable of writing essays that will endure.  You don't have to imagine it.  It's right there in your hands.  The pen you found in your father's desk drawer, the one that blew dust when you opened it because no one had touched it for a while.

Imagine a castle.  Now imagine a pen.  It's black and sturdy, with a classic design.  You use it to draw a castle, the kind you'd find in northern Scotland where there are ghost sightings.  You imagine your hand as a specter's hand.  You like pretending you're not yourself when you're creating something.  You'd prefer to be invisible, a phantom in someone else's mind.  You draw the motte carefully, you sketch in the keep.  You want this castle to be bold.  Something haunting, from a dream.  

Imagine a wedding.  By the entrance to the ballroom there's a white notebook where guests have been asked to sign congratulatory messages.  Your thoughts are cloudy.  The last few weeks, you have been drifting through the world without meeting anybody at the eyes.  You don't like it when you become aware of the absence of magic.  You lift the calligraphy pen, write "Best Wishes" into the notebook.  But your words are a platitude, an act of conformity.  You'd rather be on a train headed to nowhere than amid this crowd of well dressed strangers.

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