December 22, 2010


Today, riding in the backseat all the long hours up through 'til Minnesota, watching Williams small face as we read Barnyard Dance, so fantasticly even in it's rhyme scheme, I was thinking of Cliff Doerksen's death. Beyond the loss of talent--the obvious loss of Cliff Doerksen the writer, the much bigger loss of him as father. Most every comment online in the recollections touches on his devotion to his daughter. And from that I keep looking at William and thinking something like my most pleading prayer--that we are here with him his whole life. And vice versa. I can't even break the thought, because it is unthinkable.

That is the crush of parenthood. This kiddo makes me see the danger and injustice in every instant; a weight to balance and tether my tumefied heart, now so big with a devastating love and pride over every amazing little thing, like how he is trying to turn the pages, pulling my hand, trying to hold the cover corners. And once you are a parent, the kiddo you hold in that prayer is not just your kiddo, it is the whole world, it is everyone and everything because you now see the world with a fractured, buddhist heart--everyone is vulnerable: for even the warmongering assholes were somebodies baby.

The world is too big and too broken to fit under the cover of your prayer, but you pray it anyhow. And it is the impossible and selfish prayer, not for god's will but one built of magical thought and too much real life. The Please god don't let anything bad happen one. Stipulating not only to us, but to anyone. Do not let death touch us, ever, please and thank you. Amen.

This is my new parent prayer. Far less spiritual than it used to be. Now it's just a series of unleveraged demands.

& Still there is more.

And amidst this re-reading of Cliff's work, with a wit and talent that wastes me, reading with envy and hunger for the next graph's dazzle, I wonder if there is ever a chance in hell I could crank a sentence as tight? I wonder if I could if I had time, or if my writing will always be a product of whatever mind I am in, or of. If there is a ceiling, and if it's a matter or being born with that ability, or a matter of having the patience for revision, giving a shit enough to work beyond a second draft. I'm an asshole like that, lazy to boot--I want to be a genius and I want to be a total natural at it--that's how his writing reads to me. So naturally genius. Effortless, but not. Not at all. Clearly. The effort and breadth of knowledge in his writing was epic.

All of it is ricocheting around my brain, this writer, this man I hardly knew who was someone's only daddy, holding his life up to my life in the wake of his death--all my stupid thoughts riding shotgun to my sad, sad gratitude, clinging hard as I can to my own life and the people in it, doing what I can not to waste a minute of all this goodness.

Posted by jessica hopper at December 22, 2010 12:30 AM | TrackBack