A Theory of Detail

Detail is today’s struggle. Tomorrow—frost between the leaves. The details freeze, camouflaged as winter smoothes them, swallows them. Wait for spring. Which nettled brow is today’s morning story of a bad carburetor, how this became half a night’s sleep and an undershirt, soot and wrinkles, slipped out in front?

Hard-heeled boots crack on the tiles—too many steps, forgetting—letting us know who began the day first, who finished last, in the early hours. Detail is only the start of a snowstorm. Root them out of the bark. Assemble them out of the dirt, like an itsy-bitsy monster.

Follow the detail. There are no limits. A café, a woods, a rotted log is infinite. Detail is not scheduled and mete out with the last of the firewood. The actors will not quit the stage. The season will not leap from the edge of a leaf. Wait, wander, look, see what comes. Keep a camera in the woodshed next to the blunt chains.

The eggs cannot be found on all trees in all years. They are specific to a moment in May, the bumblebees a week in April. The log is a prairie for twenty minutes—enough time to clean coffee from the cracks in the grinder, eyes half closed. Detail hides in lost hours, like I said. “No better place to sleep than work. You can’t be doing that on your own time.”

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