What is a classic?

What is a classic?

The Giving Tree in English. But not in Hebrew.

What is a classic?

The Wonder Years. Especially the one in which Paul becomes a bar mitzvah. Or any episode with The Byrds as background music.

What is a classic?

Mighty Love. Let My Love Open the Door. All You Need is Love. In My Room.

What is a classic?

Cornbread. Warmed.

What is a classic?

Square dancing in gym class. Sorry, more Wonder Years.

What is a classic?

I don’t know. Classics are supposed to be timeless and yet some classics have changed for me with time.  Like, The Giving Tree used to be IT for me and now I suppose The Missing Piece is. But that just happened 15 minutes ago. Can it be a classic already? Moby Dick is not a classic, and yet it is, just not for me. Not yet. But it might be one day and then I will look back at today and realize I was ignorant of the classics. The Wizard of Oz is a classic, but I’ve watched it too many times and now it is a classic, but stale.

Like The Shawshank Redemption.

Like TBS.

Like Apple Pie.

I suppose if I had to say, a classic is that which makes me cry when I am not sad.

What is a classic?

The tune to My Darling Clementine.

Mint.

Feet in the sand.

The Barbie Dreamhouse with the elevator.

Jim Croce.

Half-burnt marshmallow on a stick.

Josh and Jodie.

My dad’s green fiat.

Pepsi Free.

Yesterday.

That time my Bubbi cried at Denny’s because her eggs were runny.

That time my brother threw a rootbeer bottle at me.

That time the car was stuck in the mud in a rainstorm, but I only remember that one in a dream.

What is a classic?

Forgot my locker combo.

Forgot to study for the final.

Left my passport at home.

What is a classic?

“These poems do not live: it’s a sad diagnosis.”

What is a classic?

“In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves reduced to I
and the whole thing became silly, ironic, terrible.”

What is a classic?

“It is startling
to realize that
some of our most cherished memories
may never have happened — or may
have happened to someone else.”

What is a classic?

What is         a classic?

——–

The above contains poetry by Sylvia Plath (“Stillborn”) and Adrienne Rich (“In Those Years”), and commentary on memory by Oliver Sacks

The poetry inside other people’s cardboard boxes

A new hobby is birthing itself, pushing its way out. 

Like when I took to exploring New York with my neck cranked back

gazing up at building sides looking for signs of  shoe polish advertised 100 years ago.

A new research topic. A new obsession.

The confessional.

Sylvia Plath. Anne Sexton. These are writers I never read.

Can you believe it? I’m embarrassed to even admit to it. (Though I already did.)

I never read those ladies on purpose. Their tragic endings were enough to put me on alert.

Enough to scare me into avoidance.

I was terrified of discovery. Worried that by exploring their darknesses, mine would be triggered. I didn’t need any more triggers — my mind’s been busy enough for decades.

However, slowly, slowly — as I’ve begun to creatively confess here on the blog and privately in long-form and poetry — I’m dipping my toes into their confessions. Learning from them. Growing. Chuckling. Feeling relief that I am not the only one pained by the beauty of tulips.

Today, I discovered “All My Pretty Ones” by Sexton, and smiled as I realized her poem is a consequence of rooting through cardboard boxes, both literally, i imagine, and figuratively. 

“a gold key, your half of a woolen mill,

twenty suits from Dunne’s, an English Ford,

the love and legal verbiage of another will,

boxes of pictures of people I do not know.

I touch their cardboard faces. They must go.”

It’s humbling, knowing that you’re not the first person in this world to suffer. It’s reassuring knowing you’re not the first writer to reach for a thesaurus in search of just the right word because your mind will not allow you to escape from the hunt until you do. It’s a relief, in a sense, as Lena Dunham shared about her experience reading and exploring Plath in college to know that your darkness is a little bit lighter than it could be.

It was good I didn’t read Plath or Sexton until now, I suppose.

In the same way it’s all good.

All of it. The stuff we hide away accidentally or on purpose until it’s ready to be discovered, explored, shared.

Turned into poetry.