Guide to Loss

In a testament to this time of lockdown, I didn’t realize what day it was and completely missed the deadline for submitting art to the latest Kick-About on Red’s Kingdom Blog! Kick-About #6 is officially up today, please do check it out – it is another stunning set of entries. I shall set an alert on my phone for the next one!

These are my art responses to this round’s prompt – which was the book by Rebecca Solnit titled “A Field Guide to Getting Lost.” I haven’t read the book and wasn’t going to attempt it – so I worked with the title. My initial thoughts really hovered over the “Lost” part. I recently read a Reddit post about the Vietnam draft lotteries and how there appeared to be heavy bias in the initial lottery towards birthdays at the end of the calendar year. No one knows why – presumably the number draws were random – but there are explanations proposed of simple human error. Birthdays at the end of the year were added to the hopper last and then the whole thing was not properly mixed. These men, born at the end of the year in the years 1946-1950, “lost” that lottery.

My father was drafted in a different round, but the outcome was the same. The top picture is a reverse transfer monoprint I made from a photo of him and my mother shortly after he returned from bootcamp – he’s leaning on his beloved car from high school. The lower print was made from the first photo I could find of him after his first deployment to Vietnam. His face is different. He is different. Which is so strange to me, because I was born after he got out of the service and I’ve never known him any other way but after Vietnam. But making these transfer prints, it had never been more clear to me. It was shocking – and full of loss.

But then Kerfe Roig posted her response to the prompt and it was about labyrinths and journeys and paths. I found it very helpful and comforting. So I made one more transfer print for her poem.

13 comments

  1. Something is always lost in time, I think, especially when it comes to war. Your prints do evoke a feeling of loss. And it’s also as if what we’re seeing is disappearing right before our eyes. It’s all slipping through out fingers. Quite moving.

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    1. Thank you, Jilanne – I think about that – all the WWI veterans are gone, the WWII veterans still alive are in their 90s with the Korean War and Vietnam War veterans not far behind. I’ve read that a war “changes” in many ways when there is no one left alive who remembers it…

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  2. Oh Marcy…this is so beautiful! Thank you for your wonderful interpretation.
    My brother was born in June–his number in the lottery was quite low, I think #13–but they rejected him for his very poor eyesight when he went for the physical. Vietnam is a deep hole in our history. We all of my generation know those who never returned or were never the same. (K)

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    1. Thank you, Kerfe. Your labyrinths gave me real comfort, reminding me that I am not alone on my journey – the universe perfectly timed them. My Dad’s number was similarly low – 16 – he wound up on an underwater demolition team and was wounded multiple times. He almost never talks about it, but it is always there. A few years ago we learned he is the only still living member of his unit – many of them died afterwards from Agent Orange poisoning and mystery illnesses.

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      1. A former neighbor who used to babysit for my girls went to Afghanistan twice. Besides the ones from his unit who didn’t make it back, quite a few have since committed suicide. The legacy of a war never ends.

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      2. There are some families of Vietnam veterans who have fought to have men’s names included on the DC memorial because the cancers and suicides that took their lives later on were a direct result of the combat they saw. I’m certainly not an unbiased observer on this topic, but I 100% agree they should be included. We pretend the causalities end when the fighting stops but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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      3. I only first got to see the memorial when my younger daughter and I took the train to DC on her February break as a celebration for finishing her college applications 9 years ago. I was in tears as were many of the other people there. I also felt the gravity of the WW 2 memorial, although it’s very traditional. My father was in the Normandy invasion, but only spoke about occupation duty. War is…well we all know what it is.

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  3. This Kick-About is truly something else! I made an extensive comment on the original post, but you weren’t there at the time. Kerfe truly is brilliant in her conceptions of these prompts, and I envy her illimitable creativity. Your compositions are, however, so beautiful to me, so textured. I find in them some ancient sense, some emotional nexus that is hard to describe, but I’m glad they are now included. They add immensely to the project.

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    1. Thank you, Phil! I got the notice that your post went up this morning and I looked at the calendar and went uh oh. It is the 21st, isn’t it…

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