A friend of mine collects and sells antique ephemera. She is from Austria. I spent today sorting my antique ephemera, oh how it does pile up: my to do list from three years ago, a report card from the kindergarten class of my youngest, who is now eight, notice on an overdue electric bill – I think I paid it. The lights are still on, at any rate. My parents both passed away last year and I have boxes and boxes of ephemeral slips of paper they felt moved to keep. All these little bits of writing: the bill for my father’s violin lessons when he was five, at the height of the depression, a Christmas card I made out of gilt paper when I was six – a nativity on the moon.
It’s called ephemera I guess since it wasn’t meant to last. All these little bits of writing; not even slices but glimpses of slices of a day, a time, a childhood that slipped away a moment ago when I was busy and not paying attention. My Austrian friend grew up speaking a medieval dialect of German – way up in the mountains somewhere. When she went to university, literature students would ask her to read ancient passages out loud to catch the sound of the past. The dialect is all but gone now. Spoken words, shimmering ephemerally, living and dying as they leave the speaker’s lips. The writing, like an Egyptian sarcophagus, holds bones, shrink-wrapped with leathery skin, in a stab at immortality.