My Dear Readers,
Young Charles Fenwick is a little behind with his research paper, but in the mean time a fellow I know recently visited the state of Maine, and he sent me a short note on what he discovered there:
Adam’s Trip To Maine:
Sometime in 1963 a man named Bill was born, and Bill died this year, he would have been 46 or 47, and someone wrote with black marker on a stone, ‘Bill, 1963-2010, you will never be forgotten; I will always love you,’ this stone was the size of a spread out hand and I found it on a shore near the end of one of the millions of peninsulas that dribble from Maine into the North Atlantic. The low tide loaned the violent shore to my strides across stones and empty shells where no Jain can walk because underfoot lay thousands of unavoidable snails the size of peas which sound like someone behind you eats popcorn as you feel queasy. There were dinghy sized rocks embedded in the exposed tidal basin, a retreating glacier had churned them sideways to expose the striations to the sky, and up until today they resisted ten thousands years of weather and tides to tear them apart, there was no way Bill could be remembered on their ragged surfaces, no, it was the hand-sized stone I found, it’s compliance, its willingness to erode into a smooth face that took Bill’s memory. I returned the stone to its accomplished mission; Bill was not forgotten! Whoever had written the message was a very effective writer; I wondered by what chance I arrived here to read it; you have had a similar experience in the remaining old used book stores still occasionally dusted in the few remaining funny little places in the world, the epochs sorted in the unique chaos owners of these establishments possess, in one teetering stack a hardbound Thackeray dominates 1950’s porn paperbacks, a discovery made in between the mountainous chatter of pages because of a trip out of town, because you had to get away, had to find something to read.
Maybe it was calmer than that.
A tour of Portland. A bucket of steamers down by the wharfs. Your favorite woman. It started out as a lark; get in the car and go Down East, is there a good reason the briny wind shouldn’t tussle your hair, make her hand feel unusually light and warm, and isn’t a place like Portland plainly felt, and maybe that was why you brought her here, to plainly feel things, and not break the little nuances of living into tweets and twitters, although that is possible here, too, but you’ll leave that chance in the car, in the glove compartment where no one puts gloves anymore, if they ever did, did your grandparents? Were it not for the constancy of red brick and a disoriented sun the little hills of the city made you think of San Francisco — talk about twittering thoughts. Remember that hand? In what compartment does that belong or spring from, let it go, go to the light warm hand in yours, and shop. Nice shops burrow into the red brick vestiges of the grim 19th century determination to churn, process and fabricate products, now their ground floors tell nothing about the upper stories, what goes on in them, is that a curtain up there? Does she hide there now? Did anyone? Nothing is exported from Portland anymore except a future where probably, certainly, you’ll remember her light, warm hand leaving yours to try something on, something from… China, while you look across the street at the THOMAS BLOCK building that takes up a whole city block, and wonder, did a Tom Block inscribe his name in the long stone lintel embedded in the red brick forty feet from the ground, or was it a Mr. Thomas, a fantastically successful fabricator, who bought a whole BLOCK of Portland and named it THOMAS? The mystery deepens when you decide to smoke, there are still things to try on, you tell her, actually you tell the girl to tell her because she’s in the dressing room, it’s not far away you wander, and just up and across from THOMAS BLOCK, in gold letters cut into new granite not even twelve feet above Ladies Wear is CONCETTA BLOCK; is it possible? Is this her? It’s close enough to the sea, the wind is strong enough, you’ve heard the grim stories but nothing can kill her, it even becomes likely
it was she who wrote to Bill.