writing

ReVERBeration

Don Juan rose 2014

When you are walking down a city street and not paying much attention–perhaps you are downtrodden by some confusion–and come suddenly upon a rosebush blooming against a brick wall, you may be struck and awakened by the appearance of beauty. But the rose is not beautiful. You think the rose is beautiful and so you may also think, with sadness, that it will die. But the rose is not beauty. What beauty is is your ability to apprehend it. The ability to apprehend beauty is the human spirit and is what all such moments are about, which is why such moments occur in places and at times that may strike another as unlikely or inconceivable, and it does not seem far-fetched to say that the larger the human spirit, the more it will apprehend beauty in increasingly unlikely and inconceivable situations, which is why there is such a great variety of art objects on earth. And there is something else we should say about the apprehension of beauty: it causes discomfort; and by discomfort I mean the state of being riled, which is a state of reverberation.  – Mary Ruefle in “On Secrets” from Madness, Rack, and Honey

Walking through my city’s small and hidden but lovely rose garden, I was struck by the chorus of scent that welcomed me as I walked through the wrought-iron gate, doubly stuck by the nostalgia of this chorus, returning to the backyard of my Aunt Honey, my Grandma’s favorite sister, the time I used to spend in her garden, vibrant with varieties of roses and pepper plants, while my she and my Grandma visited in the kitchen, the room which meant the most to them, the room that if their homes contained no other rooms they would be content to call home.

Aunt Honey was alive then. Grandma had her memory then. I want to write “My Aunt Honey was alive then.” I want to write “My Grandma had her memory then.” What is nostalgia if not another form of possession? And where do possessions go when we are gone? Where does memory go?

Key word in the above passage by Mary Ruefle: Apprehend. Another form of possession. But after this apprehension, this seizure, there must be a letting go.

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