Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Iarlaith, Marco, and More Birraglifici by Eckhard Gerdes

Iarlaith, Marco, and More Birraglifici
    Iarlaith was digging through a tool drawer in the utility room of the cottage he shared with his son Marco.  Iarlaith was surprised to find there the bag of birraglifici that he had given his son.  None of them looked used at all.
    Marco had said he’d do some asemic work with this collection of broken font pieces that Iarlaith had brought back from the foundry where he worked part-time.  Marco had told him about Adriano Spatola’s zeroglifici and had seemed interested in working with the broken pieces.  Iarlaith knew that Marco had abandoned using paper in his assemblage sculptures because, Marco had said, all the words found written on scraps of discarded paper seemed to deserve to be discarded and only added an unnecessary element of the commercial and the concrete to his work because most were advertisements and product packaging.  But asemism?  That was hardly commercial, let alone concrete.  Although, to think of it, Iarlaith himself as a young man had enjoyed concretism in poetry and especially in fiction.  He’d enjoyed looking at the works of Apollinaire and Patchen especially.  Still, even if Marco weren’t going to use the broken pieces for asemic purposes, couldn’t he have used them in a sculpture?
    Iarlaith was hurt.  He had done something nice for his son, had shown interest in his son’s art, and had brought home some materials that he was sure Marco could use, but they’d been rejected.  Iarlaith’s gift had been rejected.  
    Iarlaith took out a bottle of Evan Williams and poured himself a half a tumbler full.  He wasn’t sure how to deal with such a rejection.  He’d never been good with rejection.  He’d been an unwanted son himself, and if his own son rejected him, well, then what?
    Such were his thoughts as he drank himself into a stupor, hoping to still his mind and heart.  But the drink didn’t help, and he was using his shirt tail to dry tears off the font pieces when Marco came home.
    “What’s the matter, Dad?”
    “You didn’t use the birraglifici!”
    “Not yet.  I didn’t have the paper or the ink or the roller or the glass sheets to roll the ink on, but I just got everything together for it.”  Marco held up a bag from his favorite art supply store in the Quad Cities.  He set it on the table and unloaded a half dozen 4x10 glass inking slabs, masking tape, and ink roller, different colored tubes of block printing ink, and three different size art pads.
    “I know you said you had a letterpress bed for fixing the fonts, but I thought this would be fun to do this freehand.”
    Iarlaith wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand.  “So you are going to use the pieces?”  
    “Hell, no, Dad.  We’re going to use them.  Go change into a trash t-shirt.  Let’s ink up some birraglifici!  Do we have any beer?”
    “Yes, we do.  I bought a case of Huber earlier.  A bunch of them are in the fridge.”
    Marco smiled at his dad, and his dad grinned so big that the last tears were squeezed out the sides of his eyes.  Iarlaith took off his shirt but kept his sleeveless undershirt on.  He threw the shirt into a corner.
    “This will be fun!” said Iarlaith, and he went to the kitchen to get the beers.