Story A Day for May, Day 15

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WC: What We Know, What We Don’t

Kate approached uncovering the identity of her grandfather’s secret love like a scholar. It was work she was well-suited for, through training and profession, and it was work that suited the task. After all, two-thirds of literary analysis is detection.

She drew up two lists: What I know; What I don’t.

WC – What I Know

  1. “eyes, light, eyes”
  2. My grandfather wrote 200 love poems for WC between approx. 1969 and 1977, give or take a few years on either side.
  3. “willow hands”
  4. “voice of moon”
  5. “that smile–that moment–light, eyes, light”
  6. He wrote the words “light” and “eyes” within the same line in 5 out of the 200 poems, and within a couplet in 20 poems.
  7. “fingers point, not to the moon, but to the light, reflection of sun”
  8. He seemed to write the poems during the spells when he was most in balance, most healthy. The gaps fall mostly during the manic and depressive times.
  9. The poems stop abruptly–the final 30 poems seemingly written in quick succession, and then nothing.
  10. Journal entries that seem to be written during the time of the final poems focus mostly on fears of global warming (as it was called then) and the addictive drive of over-consumption fueling capitalism. One journal entry around this time states, “WC was right. The personal is no longer the political. It is on us to transcend the personal, pointing all of our direction to the salvation of human kind, if we are to unhook survival from the destruction of the planet. Chinese finger trap.”
  11. An early poem to WC was titled “Chinese Finger Trap.”
  12. “fingers of rush and toes of sedge”
  13. “river hair”
  14. The later poems seem to mourn loss of youth, loss of freedom, the assumption of burden, responsibility
  15. “and still, the light.
    the ending.
    the sorrow when you turn
    the road descending.
    in the depths
    of the meadow
    under the forgotten
    stone, a single
    sprout rises.
    willow finger,
    points and I witness
    the moon.
    This is enough.”

WC – What I don’t know

  1. What name hides behind these initials
  2. Age
  3. Residence
  4. Race?
  5. Sex?
  6. Still alive?
  7. Did WC ever exist, or was WC a poetic invention?
  8. Was WC actually a student?
  9. What purpose did WC serve for my grandfather?*
  10. Did WC, if WC existed, know how my grandfather felt?
  11. Where is WC now, if WC existed?
  12. Is it completely foolish of me to try to find WC?
  13. If I find WC–if this person a) existed in the first place, and b) is still alive, and c) lives somewhere I can get to, should I tell WC how my grandfather felt?
  14. Does WC have a right to see these poems?
  15. Is it ethical or unethical to share the poems?
  16. Is it better to know or not to know?

* Initially, WC seems to provide a grounding influence–perhaps the neurochemicals of infatuation helped to counter-balance the bipolar imbalance–maybe, at first, love was my grandfather’s way of self-medicating. This seems to have reached a peak around poem 105. By poem 125, the direction seems to switch to the political–to using the energy of love to fuel action.

The lists didn’t do that much good, except to fuel her desire to find out more. She could worry-out the ethics of the revelation later. At this point, what mattered was discovering who was WC.


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Prompt for May 15: “Write A Story In The Form Of A List,” from StoryADay.org.
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