Ode to Paul Harding, or maybe Susan Hazen, because I know her.

The fog dropped in like a fat cat– quietly, heavily, undaunted by all those manmade signs indicating it’s not a good time. The wind even stopped blowing. Maybe it doesn’t like the effort of breathing through the murk. I do.  I like the murk.  I like the sodden air that carries the salt, the dirt, the leathery smell of many exhalations and asphalt. I like the smell of asphalt when fog presses it down. Whales, I think, might smell like that.

As part of the IIML Masters, we are provided with grades and reviews by external readers. One of my reviewers has led me to think about slaughterhouses and witchcraft, also jungles and carotid arteries, but only in that febrile sort of way that distracts one from the ongoingness of life. Which is to say, I now acknowledge the friendlier purpose of a good shock to the head before a cow is hauled onto the hook. This, I would have liked. The hook, I suppose, was inevitable?

I received a very kind email from a very dear friend who was once and therefore will always be my teacher.  Her name is Susan, she has red hair and lends me her eyes occasionally so I can see the continental luxuries I sometimes miss: wildflowers, wide streets, weathermen succumbing to hysteria. She’s also an enthusiastic correspondent who has never apologized for the length of an email. She said that Paul Harding was right when he said that we should be writing for those who will naturally love our work, not for those who don’t. And because this is self-serving, I will happily gobble it down. As I did Tinkers, though that was a long, slow meal that I didn’t want to end.

Don’t worry.  My grade is just fine.  A very respectable grade in fact. I humbly thank the examiners, and after I stuff my innards back inside, I’ll be curious to see how all this affects the inner workings. I’m tempted to swallow a pocketwatch to see where I hear the ticking.


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