Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Physics of Longing (a.k.a. The Physics of the Known World)
The new Water~Stone Review arrived in the mail today, including work by Sven Birkerts, Lia Purpura, Susanne Antonetta, Mary Cappello, Carol Muske Dukes, Jean Valentine, and yours truly, among others. My piece is published as "The Physics of the Known World," though it's since been renamed "The Physics of Longing," which strikes me as more accurate. It's my take on the old Groucho Marx line: I wouldn't want to be a part of any club that would have me as its member. It's also my attempt to channel a little of the Borscht Belt, though when I described the piece in that way at a reading in Oregon earlier this year, I was met with confused faces. Ah, well. It was suggested by an incident with an actual golden retriever on the ferry to Fire Island sometime last December, though I'm posting a photo of our two late retrievers, Beau and Arden. (As for who the dog on the left is? Neither of us have a clue. Neither of us even know who took the picture. How did he/she get the three dogs to pose like that? They wouldn't have done that for us.)
It should be noted that Arden and Beau shouldn't be confused with the retriever in the piece. They loved their love.
This is one of the shortest of the short pieces to be collected in an upcoming manuscript I'm calling Unbuilt Projects....
The Physics of Longing
That silly retriever. He doesn’t go to the two guys looking right at him, beaming him awake with concentrated joy. Not at all: he goes straight to the man with his head turned to the left, who could care less about doggy behavior and isn’t the least bit stirred by the snout parked in the knee and the wagging hind parts. And that’s it: the physics of the known world. Which is why the trees look better when they’re left unwatered, and the birds actually prefer it when you don’t sing back to them. And the holy man crossing the street with the black brim hat? He knows better than to pick up what he’s dropped and lift his face to the mountains. Take it from him, friend. You probably wouldn’t even want it if the light hit you in your head.