This morning, I sat with breakfast and a literary journal at the dining room table. Three stacks of books surrounded my cereal bowl.
A few paragraphs into reading a short story, with Kashi twigs in my mouth and almond milk dripping from my lip, I realized that the main character has the same name as the town where someone significant to me lives. The name is not relevant, only that it is the same. When I saw the word on the page, I felt a light surge of emotion that caused me to stop reading. I ran the back of my hand along my chin to sop up the milk and said, “Yes.”
I felt powerful.
That one proper noun reminded me that although affections cannot sway mortality, what we love can be persistently represented as long as we have basic mental faculties and an inclination.
It’s not new, but it’s invigorating to remember. I can lace every piece of art I make with the imagery and names to which I want to lend permanence. A character’s damp laundry over the bathroom shower rod, an utterance, the name of a dog, unworn thigh-highs left in a hotel room. Resurrection may be an Easter fantasy, but our dear ones can linger in the present with deliberately chosen words.
As I thought about it, I saw Tobias Wolff’s smile on a book cover on top of one of the stacks in front of me. “Yes,” I said again, this time to his grinning eyes. He knows.