Whenever people write about
how to write (a poem a story how to write
anything) I read what they say read
their advice because I teach writing
and have thought a lot about how
to write. Someone sent me an article
today about content: what is content
where do you find content what are the ways
of telling another person what you want to say
and how do you find your subject.
All subjects are content. My next door neighbor
called herself Mrs. Israel. Far more proper
than my building with a lobby that looked
like an iffy subway stop. She wore navy and never listened
to music. She ate cheap biscuits as though they
were elegant wafers. She invited me to tea. I am not
a tea drinker though I drank many cups
with Mrs. Israel. Always Lipton.. Then one day sitting on her
fake tapestry chair the only tapestry chair
in my apartment building she whispered that she
had never been married. No one else knows she said.
Not even one person. They think he died she said.
Years later at her funeral lunch organized by a man in our building
a dozen of us went she lived here a long time a man stood
up who worked in a flower shop.
A familiar man we didn’t know.
I am Aaron Israel, he said.
We were only married for twelve years . But we talked
every single day.
What’s true doesn’t matter.
It’s all content.