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 Parallel Rules

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A display table enclosing a 300 year family tree is mounted with a draftsman's parallel rule and a brass time line demarking 3 centuries / two broken tables, below, hold a parallel rule engraved with my grandfather’s name, over a blank tablet / a tree trunk / floor is painted with a star map / wood and copper model of solar system

Parallel Rules, the title of this piece, has a dual meaning. A parallel rule is a draftsman’s tool that allows any number of lines to be drawn in parallel. Having more than one such tool (two appear in this piece) turns the second word into a plural and quite different word. Now the two words convey my concerns here; the different rules that govern the subsequent interpretation of histories that occur parallel in time.

My husband’s family has a well-documented past. My husband's father's name appears on the family tree, as well as ten generations -- 300 years -- of his ancestors. Were the tree larger my name would appear because I married into the family. As it stands, I am two branches off the edge of the tree. My own family’s history is largely unrecorded. I leave a blank page for it beneath a parallel rule into which I carved the name of my maternal grandfather, Chaim Michel Frank. He was a book seller, a religious scholar and a professional scribe, but beyond that I know almost nothing about his life.

Whatever value we accord to the length of our pedigree, it shrinks to insignificance beside astronomic time. Parallel to the tables is another plane that charts the location of the Southern Hemisphere constellation Centaurus. Nearby is a tiny star. That star is named for my daughter, Eve.

Adrienne Klein


1999-2013  Adrienne Klein