By My Mark I Signify

I’m overflowing with new, and no time to seek it out and shape it. It’s disturbing to know that all this is going on inside me and I’m, like, driving to the store. But we’ve covered this ground before, I know, I know. I open up the notebook, if I’ve had the presence of mind to pack it, and make the same mark I always make to start the ink flowing in the pen. That cypher unlocks the page and it transforms it into a space. Someone clears his throat. I turn to look who it is.

And I’m gone.

I was helping my Ma sign her name in the area provided, using a couple of homemade templates that masked the documents and guided the pen. Since the last time we practiced, her signature had shrunk to half its original size. Are you worried about running out of room now, I asked. She just murmured. At the hospital, during the antibiotic treatment, the staff stopped asking her to sign after they realized she couldn’t see her own signature or control its progress across the page. They just took care of it, my Ma said, they’re really caring that way.

This may be a girl thing but I remember writing my name hundreds of times until I discovered a signature I could be proud of, and I asked my Ma if she had done so as well. We were forced to practice penmanship, she reminded me, as if to distinguish it from the egomania of a 13 year old girl. I wasn’t 13 the last time I went through this, I offered, I was about 23 and I adopted the handwriting of Mark Worthington. If he knew, which he could easily find out if he ever saw anything I now write, he might be uncomfortable about it, but I never meant it that way. No soul-stealing, really, just letterforms, some of the coolest I ever seen. What’s your point, Ma inquired.

Maybe you should write your name a hundred times. Don’t even look at the paper. Close your eyes completely. None of this bump and run center dimmed and peripheral clear business of macular degeneration. Start writing, and visualize the writing in your mind. Get on the page in your mind. Write straight and clear in your mind, and then slam it on the paper. Write it big, write it small, print, use your full name, use your nickname, write, write, write, page after page until your muscles memorize how it goes. I may have done this myself, from the first unearthly scribbles from a fugue state (in this dream I am sitting on a toilet combing my long straight blond hair while men pace nervously waiting to use the bowl!) to the entire script of a love affair during two sets by pharaoh sanders (the second set was so much better!) in a really really dim club, candlelight obscured by beer bottle, to the chalk tags in blacked out spaces, upside down and reached over, where no one but a construction worker would look during demolition. Ma. I know how to write my name.

I can do it with my eyes closed.

I think I prefer to do it with my eyes closed.

She looked at me, then looked at the paper, saying:
I’m going to the bank Tuesday. I’ll get a signature card for you for this account.

After a beat, in which my heart falls completely away in two discreet pieces, I say:
That’s a good idea.

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