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AFTERWO RD Among the Scraps of Left-Over Notes BY ELROY BODE PHOTOS BY JANA BIRCHUM loved one with his fingertips absorbed in his attention, his dedicationand now cannot find any interest in tracing the cold marble of his love’s remains. Ihave always read determinedly, constantly to find out the world: to understand reality, to discover truth. With Byron’s death that need faded. When he died I found out all I needed to know. I wanted to cry out: “My son, where are you?” I tried to reach him as I drove country roads. Sometimes I stopped and got out of the car and yelled his name to the sky. I could not accept that he was gone. I had carried him, as a child, on my shoulders across the living room. He had stood beside me at night on a lighted pier at Port Aransas and we had looked together into the dark waters of the Gulf. We ‘had fished and camped and he had sat beside me in the car, and each year that he had grown older we were still father and son…. Now the words are meaningless: There is no son; there. is no father of a son. His death cancelled me; and the x house of my life sits on a bedrock of bleakness. He died too desperately, too , alone. I feel sometimes I should have : been there in the cab of his truck in those last moments: to hold him, to reassure him: I think of his body lying in the truck as the days and months passed, his . body gradually rotting beneath the Hill Country cedars and oaks ‘ from January to September. . . .. . \(“SuicideI read ” recently”is the don’t know how to start writing Iagain after so long an absence. I cannot make words move. They have become heavy weights. I resist themor, fancifully, they resist me. I am uncomfortable try ing to use them. Words enabled me to function during much of my adult life. Now we are strangers. They no longer help me express how I feel about the unfamiliar place I am in. They offer no salvation and certainly no pleasure. Occasionally I look at pages of old notes and I have a physical revulsion as I reread themnot because of their content but simply out of a deep distancing, an estrangement. I am a lapsed believer in the act of writing. I am like a lover who once, over and over, carefully touched the features of a 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7/19/02