Sunday, October 24, 2010
BB Guns, Daylight, Birdflight, & My Father
I participated in a workshop last week-end for which we were assigned the exercise of writing a very long sentence. The instructor was of the belief that every good novel should sport at least one 100-word sentence. I was a dismal failure at the assignment in class, but today the birds and I recall an old journal entry which, if polished, would fit the bill nicely. Triggered by the intersection of old memory, current observation, and lingering fret over my inability to comply with the writing assignment, it represents one of many ironies in my father's memorable personality. Wordcount: 106.
"My father, who was not a hunter, and who, far from it, was a man of formal speech patterns, tender heart, and playful spirit, once surprised me by telling us how he often sat as a boy in the church pews looking for a clear view between the necks of the people in front of him through which he could see all the way to the front of the sanctuary, and that he imagined being a good enough aim with his BB gun to get a straight shot through the hole without raising a hair on the neck of a single pious Mennonite in the congregation."
Now when I look through the trees to a spot of cloudless sky, I remember his boyish reflection, and wonder if the same shot of daylight is what guides a bird in flight. It surely must be the thing that causes it to fly, innocent of the technology of a pane of glass, headlong into a window of a house toward the light it can see through the front and back panes.
Aside from my grief for the poor bird who falls prey to its misconception of a window, a grief I most surely inherited from my mother, it gives me a kind of whimsical pleasure to recognize the large and small ways my father has also shaped my current thinking.
Maybe someday I'll write about his vivid description of a squashed hotdog, employed to teach me not to run into the street. dkm