[ToC]

 

ILLUMINATING

Rebecca Lindenberg

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This piece (I think of it as a species of prose poem) arises out of the whole idea of "getting it right." The occasion of the central text is a road trip I took with my partner Craig at the beginning of our relationship, and the pleasure of that recollection mixed with the uncertainty of its accuracy mixed with the longing to check my own remembering against Craig's and not being able to do so, since he passed away in 2009. But there's also a larger concern that maps onto that uncertainty, a question of place and history. The poem and the road trip and indeed our lives took place largely in the American West, which is both a place and an idea that means a lot of different things to a lot of people, in many ways both created and troubled by white European influence. In the end, feeling a bit like a novice in all of these things myself, and pondering the question of "marginality" to boot, I decided to use the form of the Medieval illuminated manuscripts I'd been looking at in the special collections section of the J. Willard Marriott Library in Salt Lake City. That form gave me a chance to address my uncertainties as an addition to the story I was trying to tell, not as an erasure of it. So hopefully those additions make visible a kind of lucidness or collaboration rather than a quandary, in hopes of understanding both personal and shared memory as something other than a zero-sum game. Also, it was fun to write. In gathering one's thoughts, in finding them a shape, there is a good amount of play. Who doesn't like to play?