Monday, February 5, 2018

Some time back

I can not pretend to remember
my brother's birthday; I ar-
rived in the family some four
years later. It quickly became
one of the few calendar dates
I would memorize, and antici-
pate always as one of one's
happiest days. I would ignore
it for months, even though the
sound of it would always touch
a nerve, only to welcome its
proximity with particular in-
tensity, and its arrival with
suspended anxiousness. Even 
now, with abundant practice,
it always comes to me with ex-
traordinary sympathy. I notice,
the American JD McClatchy cap-
tures an ironic aspect in this,
while considering friendship --

          Friends are fables for our loneliness.
          If love would live for hope, friendship thrives
          On memory, the friends we "make" made up

          Of old desires for surprise without danger,
          For support without a parent's smarting ruler,
          For a brother's sweaty hand and a train of crumbs.

We extol the details some-
what differently. I do not
feel the hand as sweaty, 
but sometimes damp, changing
places in the bathtub, ris-
ing from the pool, passing a
condensing cocktail. It is
strong, even clenched from
time to time, but primarily
it is calm, as in closing
gratefully upon a golf club.
I prefer not to pronounce
upon that hand in any way, 
because it does not yield.

Friendship certainly does
thrive on memory, but not 
on this, and is made up of
inconsistent subtractions
from brotherhood, whose ev-
every surprise harbors an 
element of danger. This is
the edge we keep between our-
selves, and is ever present.
It changes nothing, even us;
and it changes for nothing.

J.D. McClatchy
The Rest of the Way
  An Essay on Friendship
    viii  1 - 6
Alfred A. Knopf, 1992©


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