I’m beginning to re-remember that the best things in the world are not something I can grasp onto with my hands: though the handful of pink spring petals I swiped from a windswept pile on the sidewalk the other day comes pretty close. I was on the verge of finishing The Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins as I was watching them all float out of my hand and had a realization that they were evidence of things unseen; the ache of beauty and springtime right in front of me.
It is a book intricate in its details and rich in the scientific and literary research that must have been compiled for the layers of meaning inside. It was a book that rambled through its words so slowly and deliberately that at times and I wanted to put it down, despite my love of poetic language. But as I reached the end, I found myself wishing I had a professor telling me to go back and trace the repeated references and symbols, to stop and look at each of the characters and what they represent in its historical setting of the New Deal, the Atomic age and the Tennessee Valley Authority. And, to trace the evidence of things unseen, which is translated differently throughout the book. Sometimes it is the mystery of science: atoms and light, and sometimes it is the mystery of life itself: love.
I loved how tiny, seemingly insignificant details, like springtime details in Brooklyn, provoked such deep emotion within the characters: “…in a narrow cubicle behind a curtain were her things, all neatly folded. When he bent to lift her shoes he was so unaccountably overcome with grief he had to lean against the wall to compose himself. Her shoes, he realized, triggered the emotion. The fact that they were empty, that he so rarely touched an article of clothing of hers she wasn’t wearing. And her shoes triggered the memory, sudden, clear as daylight, of the first time he had seen her, the first time he had seen her footprints in the sandy track that led to Conway’s furnace and the house she’d lived in.”
It just breaks my heart to read that and realize that such tiny details can reveal the depth of the human heart. I need to keep watching for them.