We can’t just weep on paper and call it Book of Tears. We can’t just stab the book and call it Rage, but certain stories are more physical fact than art. The books that tell those stories have a temperature, a heft that gives them balance; they can be gripped and wielded like weapons. But you and I, we do the work in words, or else take everybody into the bedroom and show them the knife in the bed.

She’s just begun to feel safe to move back after weeks of living at her sister’s, on a pull-out sofa in the little guest room, with a noisy radiator and a litter box. Before that, she’d spent two nights spinning in a rented bed at a local hotel with her daughter, who slept fine. Before that, she’d come home from errands to a house that had been ransacked while she was out. They hadn’t taken much, but they’d broken the door and run their hands over everything that used to be hers, crapped in the hallway, then left. They’d stolen her house. She called the police; she called me to go to the house; she packed up her daughter, left for the hotel and didn’t return until I’d put the place back into order, this morning in fact.

She called me again tonight. We’re here in her bedroom looking at it, the indescribable object, where they left it for her to find. We’re meant to know what’s concealed somewhere in her daughter’s bed, too. What chance does language have to blunt these edges of metal and menace, and how are we to live, when items out of place can have such hurtful power? She hasn’t spoken since I arrived. She points. She shows me the place where it cut her.

Copyright © March 8, 2007 David Hodges