I read a review of The Sea Came in at Midnight, a book I liked very much, by a person who despised the book within ten pages. It’s a sad review. The guy admits he likes Erickson, just not this book—which is okay—but he doesn’t read positive reviews of it, because he doesn’t want to be left out. I liked the book, if for no other reason, and it isn’t the only reason, it’s where I first encountered the term point misser. Kristen uses the term. Our reviewer doesn’t seem to agree with the author that Kristen is intelligent or wise. Point misser, the poet wants to say, but knowing all along we all seem to miss the point—is there even a point to be made. Still I liked the book very much, wanted to teach it, but knew that I had already pushed the boundaries in my very Baptist university where we pretended to believe, but missed the point entirely.
What is it we believed—An incoming provost once wrote in a letter to the university that all good things begin with money, or something to that effect. Why isn’t that blasphemy, I asked a table of professors. Didn’t Jesus say—I began. That’s all fine in theory, one of the people at the table said, a former preacher. So Jesus is just a theory guy, all very fine, but this is the real world, I said. We agreed that someone was missing the point.
A speaker at the president’s inauguration—a president at a small Christian university himself—claimed that no one appreciated how many nights a university president lies in bed awake thinking of money. So when I came across Kristen in The Sea—she makes another appearance in Our Ecstatic Days—and read her calling a sushi vendor a point misser because he had run out of wasabi, I knew I was on to something. It was from Kristen in the second novel that I learned her best prayer which became my best prayer, though it’s difficult to embrace at times. My distillation of the prayer becomes, what ever, God.
Point misser, God whispers in my ear in almost audible King James English.
So no one I invited, except a couple family, shows up. Thankfully, a few people were there just to be there. The poet reads her poems to the walls. I am here, she says. We are here, Mark says. We are as good as dead, we both seem to agree as we drink Mark’s wine. Rachel has discovered that her condition isn’t Parkinson’s. It’s that I’m crazy, she tells me. But after confronted with the notion that everything was simply inside her head, a way of dealing with the fucking insanity of the world, she has started getting better. She can drive now, even run a little. She can hold up her head. With in weeks of getting the news that she was just crazy. But the forces that drove her into the corner still lurk. There are those forces—often family members. But deeper than just other people—the motivation itself goes much deeper.
The poet stands in an almost empty room and openly declares that each moment, each breath, each person counts. The first shall be last, the last shall be first, don’t you see—because it’s not linear don’t you see. The poet reads with all his heart, all her heart, all his heart, because heart is all he has, all she has.