Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Matters in the End: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Poetry dwells in the concrete world and from it, elevates our understanding to matters abstract and epic. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is poetic. It too resides in the graphic and real details of Ed Leary’s life disintegrating as an Alzheimer’s mind destroys the body and reshapes the lives of Ed’s wife Eileen and son Connell. Bearing witness to the Learys' story informs us about what truly matters: reaching the highest career point possible or being loved by those we choose to admit into our inner circles? Thomas answers that questions with these words:

For now, while he [Connell] breathed and moved, while he felt and thought, there was still, between this moment and the one of his dying, the interval allotted to him, and there was so much to live for in it: the citrus snap of fresh black tea; the compression and release of a warm stack of folded towels carried to the closet between two hands; the tinny resonance of children in the distance when heard through a bedroom window; the mouth-fullness of cannoli cream; the sudden twitch of a horse’s ear to chase a fly; the neon green of the outfield grass; the map of wrinkles in one’s own hand; the smell and feel, even the taste of dirt; the comfort of a body squeezed against one’s own.

These fleeting moments are both immediate and timeless, personal and universal, concrete and abstract. They are the sensual delights to which we are all invited. They are the bone and breath of a life. They are poetry in prose.

Sunlight and shadow, clouds on high and grass below--these are things that matter.
Photo courtesy of Al Griffin.

Reading Challenge:

Read Matthew Thomas’ We Are Not Ourselves.

Writing Challenge:

Write a list of what matters in the end to you.

Connye Griffin writes My Writing and Editing Coach.
She also writes for Our Eyes Upon Missouri.