Consider this excerpt from a love letter from poet P.K. Page to F.R. Scott:
"I have just walked miles around the Park & I really mean miles. The sea smelled of the sea & the pines of the pines & now I am weary. But weary or no I could do with the good solid reality of you — your sweetness & your funny remoteness which was sometimes almost an agonizing inaccessibility & such a terrific contrast to the other you which was, as I think I told you once, only comparable to being enclosed in a swarm of warm, live almost imaginary birds — imaginary, because super-birds — & completely protected by them. Magnify that feeling & then you are the seraph I told you of. How silly this all sounds & how inadequate. Nowhere near as adequate in fact as the letters on fences spelling MARY LOVES ERIC."
Super birds. Letters on fences. So many images, and not one generality.
I had reason to think about love and images a couple of days ago on the occasion of my brother Dylan's birthday, an event that puts us at the exact same age by dint of our mother's heroic and mind-boggling feat of having us 11 months apart.
When Dylan and I were kids, we moved to Lesotho (a tiny country in Africa) for a little while because of my mom's work in international development. This allowed us to engage in such harmless unsupervised fun as finding scorpions under rocks and encouraging them to sting themselves to death. Don't judge! They had it coming.
We also had horses. At one time we had three: a majestic thoroughbred, September; a fat and ornery Shetland Pony, Shorty; and an asshole, Flash.
As far as I remember, there was always discussion about how to make Flash less of an asshole, and perhaps Flash was beginning to buy in because one day Dylan—who it must be said was incredibly, massively pesty—was set astride Flash and undertook an hours-long, courageous journey through the town of Maseru. All went well enough until Flash got pissed off at something and bucked my poor pesty brother right off of him. Dylan landed on a rock, splitting open his thumb, which required gazillions of stitches and permanently misshaped a digit that might otherwise have become quite lovely.
After the assault, I wrote and illustrated a story, which my dad found this week, and which I have conveniently decided some 30+ years after writing is a love letter to my brother. Without doubt it symbolizes my struggle to prioritize my brother's pain over my love for horses, my attempt to recast him as hero avenging his trauma using the most merciless weapon of all.
Okay there may be some ambiguity about who is the victim and who the oppressor, but if this isn't the birthday present of a lifetime, I just don't know.
I love you, D.
Also: I would have hung on, by the mane or even the tail, but you were probably just tired that day.