Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Lines Poor Euclid Dreamed Of

6:00, and first light has not shown itself yet. The clock ticks. I sit in the glow of my laptop: yonder is the light of the landline screen, a hazy greenish smear, with the winking lights of the router beneath it; and beyond it the bluer, sharper numbers of the microwave clock shine in the dark of the kitchen. Above me, the red light of the smoke alarm appears a moment, and disappears.

At one of those periodic stands, when I can endure neither my ills nor their remedies: as usual, these happen with no apparent reference to the circumstances of my life. They seem to follow their own rhythm, a slow building frustration with my spiritual insufficiency that takes years to crest, culminates somehow, and goes quiescent again. 

I remember in grade school sometimes having a pencil I could not sharpen to a point without snapping the lead. I could either write with a dull pencil (which I hated: the fat lines and the sloppy glide were repugnant to me) or sharpen and break, sharpen and break. I wanted a pencil point so fine that its line was absolute, dimensionless, like the lines poor Euclid dreamed of. I could consume a whole pencil that way in the course of a class period. The shavings would wad up in the little clear plastic holder, like the clippings-bag of a lawn mower, with which my sharpeners were outfitted. When I got the lead sharp enough for my liking it would sometimes tear the cheap exercise paper we used. I preferred that to the glide of a dull lead, though. I wanted my writing to cut.

Now hints of light through the sculptured glass of the front door. A lightness at the window blinds. I am glad that the dark is easing, though I'm not ready for the day, and I hope to get more sleep yet. Perhaps I will try it even now: lie down on the sofa and see if I can unmoor it from this wakefulness, and take it out to sea.


Kathleen said...

So beautiful...and my heart goes out to you.

Dale said...

Thanks Kathleen!

Unknown said...

I sit reveling in the company of your thoughts.

Dale said...

Hey, thank you Dee! And welcome.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beautiful, yes. And I know about that snapping pencil lead thing - infuriating! Wanting that perfect dimensionless precision. I use a mechanical pencil now but those leads break off too if you press too hard. As one does.

Kristen Burkholder said...

I was the same way with my pencils.

Love this post so much.