The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Cataloging a life

Rachael Conlin Levy
Whitman: I exist

The first card.

I’m thinking about Walt Whitman, about unreadable sentences, about words that falter, fail, fall into weeks of inky wordlessness. I’m thinking about the Rolodex, found for eight dollars at the used hardware store. I’m thinking of its irrelevance and obsolescence and realness in a world where chunks of our lives now exist outside of time and location, in a place vulnerable to disappearance and deletion in a way the Rolodex will never be vulnerable.

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

–Whitman’s “Song of Myself”


The second.

To lift the Rolodex off my desk I must grasp it with two hands. Made from steel, it’s heavy, and made heavier still with the hundred or so blank cards neatly sandwiched between two end frames. The cards are yellowed and softened by time; the plastic index tabs, brittle. The letter F is missing and J’s tab is broken. I pull a card from the deck and turn it over and over, rub finger and thumb against flanneled paper. I pick up a pen, thinking of my day. Who had I been with? What had I thought about? Why do I want to remember these hours? Whom will it matter, if not to me?


4Dec19 detail

4 Dec. 2019.

5Dec19 detail

5 Dec. 2019.

2 responses to “Cataloging a life”

  1. Bill Conlin says:

    Hi Rachael, Very good, enjoyed ferry boat tale – ships, the sea, children – always adventure. And thinking about brave chaperones. I love how you share visiting about Seattle in poetry, images and wonder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter