The House Where Joe Was Born
I am not talking about Joseph Bastow, the man who now lives in a house made of stone somewhere in Michigan and frequently writes for this site. I am talking about the Writer (Actually the Poet, but that is the subject of another story), who was born in the house that you see here.
Unlike human beings, Joe had a mother who was made of the most intensely beautiful ink, and a father who was made of languge not of this earth. Shortly after their wedding, which took place on a blank page in Heaven, they bought this house. Soon, little baby Joe was born. His mother nursed him with the alphabet. They were very happy. It is a sweet house, no stones or bones, and there are lots of beautiful activities that occur inside. Come on, don’t be shy. Let’s take a peek.
If you look through one of the front-door windows, you will see Joe as he sits near the fireplace. He strokes his beard, stares at the flames, waits for the magic to come back to his pen. Occasionally he walks around and runs his hand along the wall, and then he scratches his nose and beard. When he does so, he catches the faint smell of graham cracker and candy cherries on his fingers. He smiles and sits down again, for the smell, you see, has begun to help him to write once more. He touches the pen to the paper, and he writes for an hour or so, but to him it is complete rubbish. He wants to find that voice again. It is a voice he knows well, but he is reluctant to give in to it, almost as if he is tied to a leash of his own creation.
Even for a truly ascetic monk, sometimes it is difficult to have faith, and it is no different for Joe. As he questions his faith and all of its multitudinous structures and formalities, he becomes one of the most religious people I know, especially when he writes. So after abandoning the voice for long enough, he returns to the objects of his faith and finds the neighborhood around him dripping with the sweet ink of the voice:
Angels plug in Christmas
tree lights across the street. Baby Jesus is
a cardboard cut-out in Mary’s arms
suction cupped on your front
door. Inside, carolers bleat . . .
There, in the language of object juxtaposed with veneration, he finds reason to praise. Maybe he has not recognized it himself, but in finding the voice at all, he elevates us, and gives us, the most fleeting of all, reason to praise.
Reason to praise. Maybe this is why I have frequently called him a religious man. Outward appearance, here, means nothing. Only in the infinite spaces inside the unseen, where the eternals wait to be called forth, does the writer find himself and, simultaneously, elevates the spirit of humanity. Joe does this in a house made of his own faith. He built it himself, with his pen.
Some people never begin.
Note: the most fleeting of all is a reference to poet Rainer Maria Rilke.