June 4, 2008:
Someone asked me how my day was. What do you do? That sounds boring.
And so, wanting to write something, but wanting a break from poetry, I tried to exlplain my day, how I precieved it…surreal as it may seem…this is what I came up with:
Tired. Trying to get my mind around something. I told myself this morning that I was going to have a beautiful day, and it was. Heat pressing on all sides, wind through my hair, screaming; it was beautiful. Working all day reading legal documents, dust from old county courthouses, cursive from 1800s and I can barely see…still, it reminded me of the power of human intellect. We strive to remind, record, who owned, bought, sold, died, mortgaged, lent. How many acres divided, what father passed on land to a son, who in turn had children, where’s his Will? Searching, rummaging through big stacks of books, heavy, I lift them, drag them onto the table. Man says “need help?” I smile and nod. This binding is impossible, he says, I laugh. He smells like hay and tobacco—which doesn’t surprise me because this is Johnson County, in the middle of nowhere on the way to Austin, Texas. A dry county, he says, closest place to buy beer is off of 67, Glen Rose Exit. The binding comes loose. I copy. I read. It smells like moth. Like a library. Busy, everyone is busy. The heat gets unrealistic; I feel hazy. I only slept 4 hours last night, so the buzz in my head from the heat and the people in the basement of the courthouse makes time seem a dream. I feel as though we could all be lifted, any moment, each one of us, looking at our books, document, computer screens, into a sort of bubble, up through the stained-glass ceiling the Masons built in 1880. Each one of us a body unto our self – collective. I think we all sighed at once. We find, scan, read, fill in gaps in time, linking so many histories, families, lives, land. Plot, acre, subdivision – which translates into – farms, hopes, dreams, babies, growth, foreclosures, divorce, death, remarriage, division, coming together again. Is this your first time in Johnson County? Someone asks, yes, first time. Welcome to hell, he says. I laugh. Sure, this is a tiny room, we’re all searching, sweaty, hot, looking for chains, names, liens…but look at us, I think, look! We’re learning. I think we’re beautiful. Each going our separate ways, digging up the past. I get goosebumps, even though it’s damp with body-heat, because someone brushed past my shoulder, lightly. I know it’s because I only slept 4 hours, but it feels like an instant intimacy, throughout my body, we’re brushing each other, we transfer. Oh, my whole body in feathery down. The pages turn, crisp. I wonder about this handwriting, from 1916, loops, dust-jacket. Not unlike my own. The woman announces the printer is broken. The whole room lets out a noise, deflating, just so. Look at us! We disapprove in unison. How human of us, how beautiful. The man next to me says, It always breaks down in the afternoon it seems. Perhaps it’s tired, I said. He laughs a big belly laugh, perhaps it wants to go home and drink a beer. I think, yes, perhaps we should all go home and drink a beer, together, with the broken printer. This man has strong hands, kind eyes. Strange, these chains in our lives, weaving us all together, at this exact moment, in a courthouse, with a broken printer. Beautiful, I think, though I’m dazed from 4 hours of sleep; yes, heat pressing on all sides, wind. We’re all spirits in a courthouse, reading legal documents.