On Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections

The emptiness of it. The emptiness of Albert Lambert´s mind. The slow, and fast, draining, slackening, loosening of connections, of language, of life. Parkinsons, he says; Dementia. Depression. There is no healing possible. No repair. No reparation.

Page after page, as I read the book. Page after page, as it discharges its meaning; Jonathan Franzen´s meaning, I fall. My heart shrinks, my thoughts slow, my hope fades. I read on. I laugh. I go and eat. I squirm. I weep.

“Why have you left me?” I say out loud to the empty side of my bed, to the wall next to it – I weep more. Albert lost his world and all that’s in it. I lost you. My world and all that’s in it. Now, the last page turned, the last thought in place, loss aiming at me between the eyes, I gasp.

Again, my emptiness. I pick up the book lying next to me. I put it down again. I blow my nose and wipe my tears. “Why did you leave me?” I ask, my voice hoarse. A black ink circle appears on the duvet cover, crowning the tip of my pen. In a trance, I lift the pen and place it between the pages of my empty notebook.

I rise to make myself a cup of fennel tea. As I cross my bedroom door, Albert is more real to me than you. He stands next to me, his head tilted, smiling the inscrutable smile of the terminally embarrassed. I smile back.  And reach out.

This prose poem appears in Aesthetica: A Review of Contemporary Artists, issue 9, 2005. It is available from www.aestheticamagazine.com and various outlets listed on their website