Joanna Clapps Herman: Flesh, Bone, and Song

Herman remembers the physical meaning of her father @ Map Literary. 
My father’s bones are a version of him. The structuring ground inside, a connect ing architecture. Light weight, strong, dense, his bones protected his heart, his lungs, held up his belly and all the rest. Bones bind and support, connect us to our selves. They allow us to move, go forward, to change. My father’s bones grew under the
crushing weight of a terrible early life: innumerable blows from his father’s large black smith hands, the loss of his mother to insanity, and two brothers dying of early and tragic deaths, but some how from those weighted burdens, came an architecture that made a man, that held a good life. This was the scaffolding for this tall, sturdy, agile man.

His bones, flesh and blood allowed him to climb up high away onto rocks, trees, towers, tele phone poles and onto the high iron he worked all of his long work life. His bones were as sturdy as the iron his family worked as black smiths at least for centuries, in the deep south of Italy. The Claps men worked that abundant sub stance, iron, which comes from Gaia, mother earth. Iron ore lies deep in the planet’s core and also makes up much of its crust. Iron is the result of fusion in high-mass stars, the last element to be produced before collapse of a supernova.

So iron is deep down in the earth. It’s on the surface and it’s made from the bursting stars. It’s one of the most pervasive substances that the earth is made of. My father’s bones were similar stuff, structural, strong and malleable and from the fated universe. They allowed him to climb up and away from the grinding miseries in which he had grown.

Image: Yavuz Erkan at F-Stop Magazine
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