Robin Romm’s narrators interject into the telling miniature meditations on the nature of dying and the consequences of death for the surviving. These are not just of the memento mori variety. The story “The Tilt” which gives its name to the collection for example draws a fine distinction between fury and defeat and in so doing describes the pitch and range of emotion that is elicited from the situation and the niceties lead into the pain of interrogation.
But she’s still here. She still makes jokes about the dog and gets angry with the doctors. She can’t figure out how to use her cell phone or get the stains out of the grout in the kitchen. But when I touch her skin, the heat is different. There’s a defeat and a fury right below the coolness of it and it’s a frightening combination — defeat that won’t do you in and fury that can’t save you. And sometimes I try to imagine the silence that will fall everywhere after she dies. I call her now with offhanded questions about taxes or recipes and I think that soon there will be no answers. And the question mark will lose its curve, will grow and straighten inside of my ribs, getting so large and sharp and unwieldy that it finally splits my body in two.
Split we are led stylistically to believe between fury and defeat.
The mother is also the source of wisdom in “Fluency”.
In your body when you’re dying, my mother told me, there is a lot of talking. It gets stranger and stranger, she said, the talking, until you seem to know anther language. And when you are fluent, you have to leave.
Robert Glück in the back cover blurb to The Tilt reads this collection of stories as posing a question: “How can we contain loss and harm, so that we can live, when loss and harm are where we live most deeply?” Part of the answer lies in reading words shaped to a sharp fluency.
And so for day 332