For Kate and Hudson We all praised most the details: “he left four lonely purple cone flowers, two brown eyed Susans standing in an etched vase against the September sunset”– or: “we laughed the stars from the sky, smoking on your porch; your fingers pulling and twisting my hair into braids, my fingers tucked inside the borrowed sleeves of your old green sweater”– In revisions it was always Chris: I liked the details you added, then Vanessa: I really liked the detail you added, and finally Mark: I have always liked to read revisions, and I especially liked... the details you added. I kicked you under the table, or when I couldn’t reach, I winked you into a fit of helpless giggles. Later we repeated every inflection over steaming bitter (detailed) coffee. I elbowed you before class, whispered urgently, what the hell do I say about this one? Rolling your eyes, smug, you hissed back: Just say you really like the details. It could be a bumper sticker following every would-be writer, a mantra: show, don’t tell. Add detail here. And the undetailed passages, underlined: trite! But here, in the wet dusk of a spring evening, I long to skip the damn details. Without preface, without textual support, without description or metaphor or imagery, I want to say: I will miss you. And plead, please don’t forget. Me. Us. I have been too well trained in the world of fiction to tell, have been forced into a language of hyper-truth, believe – as any writer must – that any unbridled sentiment is (cliched! Add detail here!) You are leaving. In your absence, I will look for you, will catch a glimpse of you in the corner of a room, with absent-minded fingers will dial your number and then remember: she has gone. To wit: I will miss you. (Trite! What will you miss?) And when I hear the Canadian ‘aboot’ or better, “I liked the abootness of your details here” – You will be laughing in my memory, your grin conspiratorial behind your rings of smoke, (I like the detail you added) eyes twinkling in my margins.
13 May 2001