Sonnet 71 was my dad’s favorite. He recited it so beautifully it broke your heart. I will never cease hearing the sonnet in his inimitable inflections and velvety voice.
I got my first computer and printer in 1997, my freshmen year in college. The first page I ever printed in my life was Sonnet 71. I taped it on my dorm room wall. The page came with me for years from dorm room to apartment, from city to city, quickly finding its new cozy place on the wall with other objects and images that reminded me of who I was and whom I loved [the two used to be interchangeable].
In a sense, this was a better representation of my dad than his photographs. It contained his voice. It was something we shared and enjoyed together. The sonnet was also a token of an unexpressed bond between us. The feral part of me that will never understand human socialization, polite conversation and hypocrisy–my wild–I inherited from dad. There is a particular brand of person who fears yet passionately longs for complete erasure.
At some point I stopped exhibiting everything and everyone I loved on my walls. I taped the pictures and sonnet 71 in a photo album.
My dad passed away two years ago. His funeral refreshed my misanthropy like nothing else. All that pretense, the drama, the bullshit. People whom I barely knew jumping at my neck sobbing [because you just have to cry at funerals, it is socially inappropriate otherwise.if you don’t cry it means you are not sad enough for the occasion.and obviously crying is the only proper way to express sadness.] People whom I’d never fucking seen in my life telling me what dad was like.
But I didn’t think of the sonnet then.
This winter I was doing some social media thing for work about Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. I wanted to share this sonnet. Even before I found my precious first print-out, just reading it from a book in his voice… [That sentence doesn’t know how to end. I’ll just leave it.]
So here’s that print out, now transformed into another kind of mnemonic device, transcribed as it is to the media of the day. Last time I read it, daddy was alive. First time I stuck it on my wall, I hadn’t yet lost anyone very close to me. And everything in between didn’t prepare me for his death –although he did leave me, it seems, a manual for mourning him.