My biological father’s name is Nyles Rudean Vinzant. This according the 1986 adoption papers I laid my hands on the summer after my freshman year of college. I was in my family’s filing cabinet on the hunt for my social security card, a prerequisite for summer employment. I can still remember that the document was exactly 14 pages, which seems an excessive length when the subject was the simple forfeiture by one man, to another.
here, and with the full fist of my heart
Jung’s theory of synchronicity spotlights coincident events that reveal an underlying pattern, which encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display them.
Sitting by the bush, fingering the petals and the voice through the phone says Listen, you venomous little cunt. The boy practicing piano scales next door starts when the poppies issue their involuntary cry. Here, where emotion gets its aria. Here, where the galaxy can be compressed to an anxious procession of signifiers.
Here is his signature at the bottom of the page, cramped and jagged and yet some flourish in the y and the way he crossed his t indicate valor. A quixotic heart. Here, where he guided. Here is the clearest cinematic image of Nyles Rudean Vinzant, leaned sheepishly over the hood of some car, scratching his pen under the lines of those artfully constructed legal papers while he read, and clipping the cord before I could protest, or write blood.
I can remember the photo, found around age ten, unearthed one torpid summer afternoon from a box of family photos pilfered from my mother’s closet. Here I am, gap-toothed and Barbie-blond and grinning maniacally; my parents looking unremarkable, which is to say the way they always looked in photos with their children – puzzled. Pleased. Painfully young. We stood in front of a docket, alongside a balding judge in his full-length cheap black nylon regalia, the flash reflecting off of his spectacles so that his eyes were suggestions rather than shapes. Fully two years before my sister was born: a coltish, faltering new family. My adopted father’s sheepish yellow grin. What’s this? I thrust it in front of my mother, then used it to fan myself with vigor. “Oh, those are your adoption photos,â€ she looked up from the newspaper-and-cottage cheese dieter’s lunch she was nursing as if she’d just said, Oh, those are cans of beans.
Waiting and waiting and waiting to understand while he picked aphids off his tomatoes, while he steered me away from his computer screen, while I fought his dog for space on the bed, while I called and called in the middle of the night, while his soul slipped out of his own nude and sweating and heaving form, ricocheted off mine and disappeared through the single window in his subterranean cave of an apartment. Why did you go?
Twenty was just too young.
And so I found out I’d been adopted. But I didn’t know my father’s name or origin until that summer evening. I was swinging side to side in the big office chair, dragging the sides of my dirty blackened feet back and forth on the ground, chlorine-haired and sunburnt, feeling like a kid again.The sun moves across the sky so fast in winter, you can hardly keep up. It only took a moment to register the significance of the name on the paper before me, only a moment’s hesitation before my hands got too itchy and began riffling, of their own accord, through the papers on the desk in front of me for a scrap on which to write: Nyles Rudean Vinzant.
Found a small scar on my knee in the bath, from a fall I took the winter I finally learned to ride a bike. Twelve is just too old. Instinctively I reached to my elbow where its corresponding ridge still plays under the pads of my absentminded fingers when I get nervous. Through adolescence I regarded it as the most unslightly blemish on my body. Then I forgot all about it for years. Under the salted water, it resurfaces. It’s all still here. Trevor and I talked on the phone for a few hours last night; he says don’t poets kill themselves a lot? and I remember, but don’t particularly miss, the charm in offense. There, the alpha, he recalls seeing me crossing campus with my squad of girls, that one’s mine.
A few moments, in total, though it took a few weeks to work up the courage to begin combing the internet for traces of him, and a few days after I initiated the search to find his name in the social security death index: Nyles Rudean Vinzant Jr., 45, Olathe, died Saturday, March 25, 2000, at home. Jung’s synchronicity does not conflict with the idea of causality. Double-helixed and self-evident. Since meaning is a complex psychic construction, and subject to conscious and unconscious influence, not every coincidence needs to have an explanation in terms of cause and effect. 48 hours later, I woke up sobbing in the middle of the night; Trevor held me while I struggled wildly how did this happen.
I whispered into the phone, whisperwhisper I know now. He whispered back. I whispered again; his low tones always matched mine, always a mirror held to my need. I carried the phone with me into the bathroom, our low whispers back and forth. Sank to my knees. Laid the phone down on the orange tiles and vomited into the toilet bowl.
Whisper whisper. Twenty years old.
The queen says to Alice, “It is a poor sort of memory which only works backwards.â€