not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

thin red book

i have beside me
a thin red book

To: Florence Reid
Millbank Ontario
from: Aunt Maggie

Stonework of our house
was started on May 29th 1907.

and i look to my house
and how it is exploded
upon itself
exponential stuff

The baby was born
on 20th of December
His name was Kenneth Steard.
Allan Grieve died

April the 4th
buried the 7th 1908.
Allan was 16 years and 2 months old.

and i look to my house
my pages
my words
and how it is exploded
upon itself
exponential stuff

and lives and lives and lives
are laid in this thin red book
real feeling loving fucking laughing grieving lives

Grace Pelsh died
Aug 26th.
Buried Aug 1908,
was 11 months and 6 days old.
Her birthday was on Sept 19th.

things to remember
people now gone

gone, now, yes, 
but please—

Grandma Reid died.
Bellers born.

Threshing is the order of the day.

There was an awful thunderstorm
Aug 15 1910
and quite a bit of hail
about 0 in size
and some was a good bit larger.

and the hail does pelt
and we do run

and dodge
and duck
and we take to house

and my house
it is exploded

and she baked a sponge cake on July 26th 1911
and there were marks for her class
and Florence Reid did come third
and with a gloating asterisk:

*Emma Reid
with 362
did not pass.

thin red book

On October 4th 1911
I got the both of my legs scalded
and they did sting.
The teapot
fell when i picked it up.

and i have had children broken
pulled from between my legs
and houses have had new corner stones laid
and marriages have been snapped in frame
and broken
and people too young have died
and hail has come
this size


and i look to my house
my pages
my words
and how it is exploded
upon itself
exponential stuff

thin red book


  1. this is a repost. (from an old blog - in through the back door.) huh. i don't usually repost. but i picked up this book last night and my god how beautiful it is and shame on me for not looking at it more often and we are all thin red books and we all lay or will lay like this touched or untouched and this is life.

    thin red book.


  2. it always gives me a strange feeling to see a name written and next to it the date of a birth or a death. i feel like it's a lie or, at least, not the whole truth. as if birth happens on that very day and not after that and many times - over and over and over many years (god willing). and as if death isn't there for the duration, but a late show-up. those dates stand there like bookends. exploded! yes, that's right. life's not as neat as all that. handwriting can be neat (not mine. yours?) not life. certainly not life.

    so many people live their lives in you. so many years play out all in one day.

    it's funny: you mention all those dates and yet this gives me the wonderful feeling that time is but an illusion.

  3. Love this one even again. Funny that I feel exactly opposite from Andreas (altho I do also get a funny feeling)- seeing these words so close together, on paper or a gravestone brings to mind how fast it all goes by- the irony to me is that we believe that there is more than a whisper between birth and the end. Despite being deceptively thin and compact it would be a magical,bottomless, endless book when you opened it - completely unfathomable. To me those words make me hold my breath in wonder at the briefness of the summary of life and the illusion that might be long and full. Hmmmm.... that is a bit of a contradiction?

  4. this beautiful piece
    well worth a repost,
    drawing from the past and this old house
    history and future
    where we stand today and yesterday
    before our own lives began.



"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))