A single sheet of ruled notebook paper wrenched from its spiral binding, dewy wet and rock weighted, sags pinned atop a fieldstone wall. Each of three columns, arrayed side by side, begins with a key word – and underneath a register of single word associations. On the left “heart” superintends love, brave, empathy, conscience. “Broken” elicits bones and pain and stress and anger. The anchoring stone, shedding dirt and finest shreds of composted leaves, occludes the organizing word that heads the rightmost column. I cannot move the one-rock avalanche that walls these words; I can only guess at the congruity of sleepy paired with energetic or the abstraction of positive in a triangle with healthy and complete. This hidden word under its moraine of recent making poses a seductive mystery. Better to leave it alone and wonder than lift the weight to dulling light.
The lower registers of the buckled page are numbered out of sequence. “3. Because in the definition of metaphor it says something is not literally applicable.” “2. Our hearts are broken and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.” “7. The speaker is attempting to say our hearts are broken by this sudden tragedy…” What tragedy? “4.?” “6? Heart.” Is this a test, a manifestation of the Conet Project gleaning random numbers counted out by well-spoken spies in late night shortwave radio transmissions?
What else is there to say about an artifact rescued from the pavement? More soiled by its present perch than pedestrians’ feet. The words readily legible in what experience suggests is the craft of a looping feminine hand. Rounded letters as if the swell and bounce of O, the bulbous nose of P, or Q’s bubble of a derriere were all that mattered. No jaggedness here, no haste – just a sense of unfinished reflection and missing information. The evident care in its salvation draws a distinction between loss and discard with pointed ambiguity. Stopping to read this scrap of paper I wonder how it came to be in this place. Some instinct transformed a passerby into a Samaritan who thought the page lost, imagining the returning steps of another, head down, eyes to the undulant brick walk scanning for this lost bit of memory, this bit of unsettled and unsettling business.