I am afraid because I can so clearly foresee my own life rotting away of itself, like a leaf that rots without falling, while I pursue my round of existence from day to day. — Osamu Dazai, The Setting Sun
It began with an invitation.
What happened next is deluded memoir as dictated by the fates.
This poetics inquiry laps the edges of a sunk cost (in this case study: living) and wanting patience—a virtue of tolerance—inside manufactured urgency. It is a performance conscious of ritual as perfected suspense.
It was informed by living in between the days of September 2020 — December 2021. The duration of this experience, and its examination, is an attempt to trace lived time (in the Bergson sense) during a global pandemic. By definition and design, it will be incomplete and ongoing.
Each section is its own contextualized transition. They are elaborations of encounters ultimately absorbed into the immediacy.
I won’t be brave and I won’t brag. This inquiry isn’t that kind of history.
I included a time-bound photographic documentation of two ordinary persimmon trees that straddle the border of two wildly different cities in the Bay Area, California: Oakland and Piedmont. The trees are almost identical. In the way identical twins are the same. The photos perform as an accurate memory of unfolding-forward time.
I started with an intention, a simple desire to observe and document the process of ripening persimmons in relationship to the moving light of transitioning seasons. The digitalized light is cataloged by hours, months, and days of vanishing weeks.
There was nothing there unless you knew what you wanted to discover.
I’ve yet to taste a persimmon from either tree.
Even though I had been invited to and held a perfectly ripe fruit in the palm of my hand. Its weight temptingly firm. Its provocative color a classic fusion of orange sherbet with the hushed undertones of apricot flesh and wildfire.
Even though California was in a state of emergency with a gigafire, its first, and daily news was threaded into warnings of death and conspiracy fabrications.
Even though I had begun to really believe next year (or tomorrow) may not exist, I did not act in accordance.
The next time I returned, I found both the sign and ripe persimmon I once held gone forever.
This poetics inquiry might also be an allegorical representation of melancholic working class fantasy.
Not because there has been an emergency or a misunderstanding, but because this is how the working class experiences time in America.
—Cynthia Cruz, The Melancholia of Class
Almost a mile
walking there—and back,
opposite the direction
of the freeway moving like the tides
two persimmon trees bloom.
I watch bus ads for kitchen remodels
roam around the neighborhood.
Buffering, in the sense of a temporary
state of memory, missing days
in all that loud, quiet, loud.
I began to crave distance felt in between scheduled days and the bleeding-together years.
All manner of abstracted distractions, compulsive digital disruptions, became the memorialized norm. The frame we all saw was equalization. We were told even the celebrities were struggling in this rupture, but curves continue to represent common human lives further refracted. Virtual living has become haptic mythology.
Even with dead wives,
husbands refuse vaccines.
Grief as consumptive force.
Felt: a noun and a verb.
Delimitations of meaning requires an affect of attention.
In other words, a gathering of purpose.
Desire became self-discipline.
In predictable progression, aberrations were witnessed within barely distinguished intervals—blushes of heat and light—but the landscape, and its biography, is always in casual conversation with me.
By definition, there is always a realm of possibility outside a standard or norm.
What are your dominant maps, plots, chorus verse chorus?
How are you honoring complexity beyond those borders?
Will you listen to the sun echoing deep inside its shadows?
In summer and winter and in between, mutations contain their own intimate urges of bloom and decay. Some of these urges are revised into a poem.
This effort had became another question, following a simple claim of evocation, a consecration.
Every time I pass these ordinary persimmon trees, I remember to remember to keep living. May I continue to commit these fragments of stimulation to memory and create untraceable requiems out of this strange and restless milieu.
Hurry. The future is waiting.