Saturday, February 20, 2016

Me and Harper Lee

I wrote this a few years ago, but, To Kill a Mockingbird -- well, as Dill said about something else entirely -- "oh yes, it's in my blood."

IThere’s an axiom that’s been floated for a long time (how long? A century or two?), that the act of reading, in and of itself, is somehow intellectually nutritious. A noble pursuit.

I wonder how many books I’ve read. How many I’ve cracked for a one-night stand, with plots hell bent for leather, salivating to a destination.

I’ve read many books, not beginning to end, but beginning and end, skipping over the middle. From the here to the  there.

I’ve bought books based on the covers alone. Pretty, pretty faces. I’ve read parts of books that have been passed along, for my consideration. Just to get them off the shelf.

I’ve read cereal boxes, comic books, toilet paper wrappers, junk mail, license plates, the labels on my fruit.

Not instructional manuals, I never read instructions. I feel I’m the only one who can write them well. I could be wrong, since I never read instructions.

But I read and re-read stories. For their incidental music.

Miss Maudie, Miss Maudie, in your flower print dress. Eternally watering the roses. Atticus will never notice, I can tell you that now, as I told you ten years ago, and twenty.

But you still call out to him – it is to him, isn’t it? “Your father can make a will so airtight no one can break it!” He doesn’t turn around. He never will. He’ll just raise a hand and say, “You be good, children.”

Maudie will dress up again tomorrow, and fill her pitcher with water. The plants won’t wilt and flowers will bloom.