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Amber Paulen

Una Forchetta

I’ve come to a fork in my work. As Annie Dillard writes of forks:

Let me pull the camera back and look at the fork in the road from a distance, in the larger context of the speckled and twining world. It could be that the fork will disappear, or that I will see it to be but one of many interstices in a network, so that it is impossible to say which line is the main part and which is the fork.

Yes, that’s how I feel; but substitute “world” for “work” and you have my case. It’s like working my way through a net carelessly strewn to shore.

I’m sure most books I’ve read have bore witness to such a fork, at least once, but don’t show it. I’m sure those writers wanted to scrap the whole sha-bang and take to fishing, but they didn’t. I’m sure they kept on and kept at it with that doldrums phrase on repeat: It’s too late. I’m in too far.

The problem is that now I know where I’m going whereas before I was going, knowing I was going somewhere. So what I have are many pages I flung out into space, well-written pages with burgeoning ideas, just floating there, no life-cord, no string. I’m just thankful that there’s also no gravity so that it all may stay afloat. Now I add the string, now I connect the life-cord, securely, so that when I’m in need all I have to do is give a tug and just the idea and word flow in need will come tumbling, reckless words on pages, that’s all it’s ever been anyway.

Watch me: first I pick the cotton, bending low in the hot field, I learn to mill then I mill it, I learn to twine then I twine it, I learn tricks of strength then I strengthen it, I measure the distance between myself and the buoyant bulk then I climb it, I learn to knot then I tie it. So that all I will see will be a bunch of strings with pretty and colorful notes attached. I will pull here and over there, reckless words on pages, that’s all it’s ever been. That’s why I’m writing this instead!


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