Monday March 18th 2019, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Boozy,friends,memory,New York,transitions,vacation Tags:

That’s what Ellis wrote. Novels, a memoir of sorts, but every day for years and years and years, haiku. Not hidebound, but an astonishing exercise in writerly discipline. And a remarkable commitment to perceiving beauty in the world, to taking in the fullness of a moment and saying, ‘this moment, those colors, that sound, that feeling. Three lines, three ideas’.

There’s a monthly calendar with a haiku a day for this year (and last), possibly still available for purchase from the Harvard Bookstore. I read them most days – for a while in the morning, but some of them are unbearably sad, so now usually later in the day.

The last texts I exchanged with her were a haiku that I wanted her to write – an orange construction sign on a deeply gray day calling to mind the winter hours and days we’d spent at Mud cafe in the East Village, grading papers and nattering and not grading papers. The bright orange-handled tin mugs and the signature orange of the cafe indelibly inscribed in sense memory.

Her last words to me: “It IS a haiku!” So too, alas, her life and her death.

I’m trying to be better about pausing to see something beautiful every day. It’s fucking hard. Hard to remember, and harder still to be honest about it. Like photography or writing or music, I suppose, you have to toss out a lot of the moments as not actually worth preserving in this particular category. The temptation to declare it done just because the feeling was close enough for government work.

But, I’ve got something to work with. She told me – orange sign, gray day, coffee house of a lifetime ago: it IS a haiku.

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