"The Crack"--Epilogue

    My brother’s windshield cracked as its only defense against a piece of concrete hurled at it by a mad woman last week.  The strength of the glass is remarkable considering its foe.  Shatterproof it indeed proves to be; yet tiny tentacle-like cracks branch off from the main injury.  Each day the crack grows wider and spreads while he waits for a special-order replacement windshield for his 1965 Chevy Impala’s original flawless one.  For many reasons, my brother is upset by the fate of his windshield.

    We’re roommates and “the windshield” is often discussed.  We leave messages for one another in the bathroom we share, written with an erasable marker on the mirror.  Today, I wrote a haiku on it (which does not have crack yet), called “The Crack.”  I thought he would at least find it ironic.  The poem lived for years among the connective tissues of my brain in embryonic form, but I did not know how to grant it life until this week. 

The crack is present

I have always been aware

For the light’s entrance


    I waited for his response impassively when I heard the bathroom door shut, and was surprised by our conversation.


    “Those are some of the lines you’re starting your book with,” he said.  His matter-of-fact way of starting the conversation was not what caught my attention.  He’s read my manuscript draft I keep on the computer!  (We share the computer, too).  I assumed he thought my attempt to write a novel was a novel idea and nothing more.  I was impressed he was interested enough to take a peak in the “novel folder.”


    “Something like that, but I was told it wasn’t a strong start.  But it seemed so poetic,” I said.


    He almost cut me off, “Because a crack usually means a bad thing, like a breach, or something.”


    “Yeah,” I said.  My body reacted with my excitement at the prospect of this conversation.  I stood up from the old, low-sitting, “pleather” couch we will eventually replace.  The muscles in my face surrendered to a giddy grin.


    “Like a cracked mirror—”I started.


    “Bad luck,” he finished.


    “Exactly, but I’ve been thinking,” I began, aware that the phrase chased away most who bothered to talk to me. 


    “It’s through a crack that needed light can get through!  An imperfection can be the means for something good to get through, or for you to see your way out of something bad,” I finished.  My big-brother wisdom boomed from my swelling chest.  Man, that’s good stuff.  Gotta write that down one day!


    “Like the first light you saw after you tried to kill yourself in the hospital,” he said.  His voice so calm, he could have been discussing a message I left for him to buy kitty litter.


    It happened twice in about as many minutes.  He impressed me, this time by bringing up something my family and closest friends never mention (in my presence at least). 


    “Yeah.”  I anticipated a conversation about a metaphorical “crack,” but did not have a clue what to say when my brother made a connection deeper than the crack in his windshield.  So I did what I do best in situations like this:  I shut up.

     “If you’re trapped beneath a huge rock, a crack is the only way you know you might get out alive.  It’s the only way you can see the sun,” he said.  It was his turn to become animated, his face glowing with a visible flush.  (Yes, black people blush and can turn shades of red, too). 

    “And I was thinking about the cracks in our character through which the light of truth can enter, lighting up the darkness within,” I added, attempting to regain control of the conversation. 


    I then explained that the little not-so-cryptic poem I scrawled on the mirror was a Japanese form of poetry called haiku and its syllabic constraints.  It was my first attempt, and certainly not the best representative of haiku poetry.  I told him what I knew about how it is often about nature or the seasons, as well as why mine was inferior.  He listened and nodded thoughtfully.  I had not lost him with my obscure ramblings about a form of poetry he only vaguely remembered from high school English.


    “But John, your haiku is about nature.  Cracks are part of nature.  They're in the rocks, the trees, the earth.  Everywhere,” he said and I smiled slowly, relishing this nugget of validation, not knowing when I will receive a treat like this again during these times of “praise deprivation” in our clan.


    “Thanks.  I was thinking about your car when I wrote it for you to see,” I admitted.  Of course, he knew that already.  I made a mental note not to “misunderestimate” again, as the second president Mr. Bush would eloquently say.


    “Yeah.  It’ll get fixed.  New one should be here next week,” he said grabbing his keys and I turned for my bedroom.


    I assumed he left.  One of the joys of living with an adult sibling is neither of us are responsible to the other for our coming’s and going’s.


    I went to the bathroom later and found a haiku beneath the one I wrote earlier.


Truth sometimes blinds us

We can’t bear to see the light

Reflection is truth


    I filled the silence of my solitude with a gut-busting laugh.  My brother and I may never write great haiku, but this afternoon we wrote messages for one another with more depth than:  “Felix needs kitty litter.  Your turn.”

Michele   Michele wrote
on 12/5/2009 11:26:16 PM
Very cool--a fraternal affinity for haiku as a semi-indelible communication and a great memory to keep for you both. I hope you continue the verse. Funny how the elements of nature seem to creep into haiku no matter what it's about--perhaps it's the syllabic limitation(?) that keeps it 'elemental'.

lauralee   lauralee wrote
on 12/1/2009 5:54:21 PM
truth, hard to swallow today i eat broken glass plain broth tomorrow

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writing jlew1973
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A slice of my life from yesterday afternoon based on a haiku I posted earlier here: "The crack." The conversation between my brother and me struck me deeply. We're very different and only share DNA from the same mom and dad.... At least that's what I thought til yesterday's brief, but powerful conversation.
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Feedback welcome. I'm thinking of putting together pieces like this together to form a memoir in vignette style. Ideas, thoughts, suggestions are welcome.
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