The River After David Foster Wallace

Photograph by Jose Padua
Every love story may be a ghost story but
some may also be stories about assassination
and greed, depending on who’s in love
and who the ghosts are and if one or both
or several of the people in love are responsible
for the ghosts being ghosts in the first place.
Sometimes the ghosts are wholly innocent;
other times they’re complicit in the slaughter
of innocents, chief architects of the perpetuation
and performing of unconscionable acts, ministers
of transgressive forgetfulness where robbery,
arson, and murder are examples of forgetting
and the demolition of funhouses and everything
housed within them, giving birth to the fearsome
dawn of advertising, vanity license plates, juices
derived from vegetables, the promulgation of
excessive irony and ambiguity in self-conscious
narratives and the proliferation of superficial
forms of living. Meanwhile, I have sat on damp
tennis courts to examine the sullen bouncing of
soggy balls, ridden lost highways in cars with tires
as bald as William Frawley, but most importantly
I have read all the books in the library on the
subjects of true love and intimidation and at best
felt my affection for these things unrequited.
I have studied detailed maps of the constellations
only to look up toward the heavens feeling
despondent and lost. Everyone loves a love story
although they don’t always know this, everyone
struggles through obstructions, acid rain, and the
turning on of television shows programmed by
the stooges and flunkies of oppressive regimes.
And every long embrace is also a call to arms,
the assertion that if all hostilities do not cease,
there is a force of nature with the power to settle
all scores, and a river winding its way through the forest.
in memory of everyone who’s ever been defeated.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua.
First published, in a slightly different version, at Vox Populi.

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