Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 16: Missing in Action, My Gravestone, Immortality

And the Germans told everybody else to form in ranks of five, with Billy as their pivot.  Then out of doors went the parade, and through gate after gate again.  There were more starving Russians with faces like radium dials.  The Americans were livelier than before.  The jazzing with hot water had cheered them up.  And they came to a shed where a corporal with only one arm and one eye wrote the name and serial number of each prisoner in a big, red ledger.  Everybody was legally alive now.  Before they got their names and numbers in that book, they were missing in action and probably dead.

So it goes.

Billy--and the rest of the Americans--were the walking dead before the German corporal recorded their names in his red ledger.  Billy could have easily died and disappeared on the train ride to the prison camp.  His name and serial number would have simply evaporated into history.  A name on a monument somewhere.  So it goes.

I think that everybody wants to be remembered in some way.  I don't want to evaporate when the name on my gravestone is too worn out to read.  Maybe that's why I became a writer.  From the time I was four or five (I'm not exaggerating), I've wanted to be an author.  (I did have a brief lapse from ages eight to ten when I wanted to be a movie director, but I came to my senses.  Bestselling author is a much more attainable goal.)  There's something very real and permanent about a book.  Something that can't be erased.

Of course, that's not the reason I am a poet.  I'm also in it for the money.  The dozens and dozens of dollars that I have earned from my verse have made my life so much more comfortable.  The problem is that the most famous poets really don't become famous until after they've died.  That means that my children will be the subject of interviews where the interviewer will ask questions like, "What was it like growing up with a genius?" and "Can you describe your dad's writing habits?" and "When did you become aware that your father was truly touched by God?"

That is true immortality.  William Shakespeare.  John Milton.  Dante Alighieri.  Emily Dickinson.  Robert Frost.  Saint Marty.

Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for the gift of words.

Another option.

No comments:

Post a Comment