Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Nodus Tollens


Today's prompt takes me to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Who knew there was such a thing? 

From the dictionary, which has some marvellous words for less-than-marvellous feelings, we have:

nodus tollens

n. the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore—that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre—which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.


n. the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin, just the kind of hypnotic diversion that allows your thoughts to make a break for it and wander back to their cubicles in the city.


n. a moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life—set in motion not by a series of jolting epiphanies but by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next, until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images—which prevents you from rewinding the past, but allows you to move forward without endless buffering.


n. the insomnia-borne jolt of awareness that you will die, that these passing years aren’t just scenes from a dress rehearsal, rounds of an ongoing game or chapters in a story you’ll be telling later, but are footprints being lapped by the steadily gathering tide of an unfathomable abyss, which still wouldn’t wash out the aftertaste of all those baskets of Buffalo wings you devoured just before bedtime.


n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.

n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.

From me, a poem for the Bradley/Thelwell pair. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night. Safe travels. We will miss you so much. 

Nodus Tollens
    for Robin and Rebecca

    who knew 
the day your door was knocked upon
and the person behind the knock 
—trumspringa having brought them to the hood—
arrived with eggs and a smile
wondering if you were the person they'd found
in a google search for writers in Ootischenia— 
    who knew 
in this keyframe
that a friendship would arise
cats would be cared for
weddings of children attended
a decade of drop-ins and dinners and laughter
deep discussions of moriturism
that can only happen as you age
pandemic bubble shopping
trips to the dump
wild turkeys in the yard
vellichor and gin
    would ever end
but now 
a page is turned
a door is closed
kenopsia descends


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