Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sidebar #1

The poet, in his early twenties, in the mid-sixties, makes the pilgrimage to Europe, travelling by sea. In England, he meets a folksinger of a similar age from Minnesota called Bob Dylan. He goes to Spain, & the scent of the orange groves permeates his notebooks for years to come. He meets & marries a beautiful blonde Swedish model who returns to New Zealand with him.

They live with the poet's mother & brother in Aro St., Wellington. They have a daughter. (This the narrator knows not through memory but because he met her forty years later.) The beautiful blonde Swede does not like New Zealand. The country is beautiful but the people are nekulturny, barbaric. (This the narrator does not know for certain; it is an assumption he makes based on the fact that the poet starts drinking again. Though maybe it's the whole gestalt, living with mother, having a child, having a wife who doesn't like the place & who reminds the poet that he, too, doesn't really like living there.)

Five characters then. More precisely, four characters & a narrator. (Though not this narrator; he is merely the recipient of an oral history which he has chosen to pass on.) Even more precisely, four characters & a raconteur who will tell the story later, who is the one from whom the narrator heard it.

It is too distant to be precise in the living arrangements. Logic—no, not logic, rather the kernel of the story—dictates that there are three bedrooms in the house. The brother has one, the poet & his wife another, & the poet's mother shares the other with her granddaughter. It may be that the poet's mother is visiting; & the baby normally has a room to herself.

Except on this night the baby gets sick & the poet's wife moves into the baby's room to be with her, & the poet's mother moves into the master bedroom. The poet knows nothing of this; he is out drinking, has to be a party since at the time this took place, bars in New Zealand closed their doors at 6 p.m.

The poet returns home round midnight, drunk. Staggers into the bedroom, takes his clothes off in the dark & jumps onto the shape in the bed shouting "I'm going to fuck you." His mother screams, jumps out of the bed & runs from the room.

(The narrator is aware that it is probably in poor taste to retell this story; but he excuses himself on the grounds that if he is to partake in the obituary writing, to perform part of the autopsy, then it makes sense to begin the cutting at a soft point in what will inevitably be a painful history.)

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