Pg. 78: ” And I felt the unbroken line of me and of her stretching back from our cribs to the dead guy to acquaintanceship to now. And I wanted to tell her that the pleasure for me wasn’t planning or doing or leaving; the pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together- but that seemed too cheesy to say, and anyway, she was standing up.”

Pg. 161: “What a mistake it is to distill this poem into something hopeless. I hope that’s not the case, Quintin. If you read the whole poem, I don’t see how you can come to any conclusion except that life is sacred and valuable. But-who knows. Maybe she skimmed it for what she was looking for. We often read poems that way. But if so, she completely misunderstood what Whitman was asking of her.”

Pg. 196: “”I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,” Whitman writes. And then for two pages, he’s just hearing: hearing an opera. He sits on the grass and lets the sound pour through him. And this is what I was trying to do, too, I guess: to listen to all the little sounds of her, because before any of it could make sense, it had to be heard. For so long, I hadn’t really heard Margo-I’d seen her screaming and thought her laughing-that now I figured it was my job. To try, even at this great remove, to hear the opera of her.”

Pg. 215-216: “After all that hearing, he writes, “I am exposed…. cut by bitter and poisoned hail.” That was perfect, I thought: you listen to people so that you can imagine them, and you hear all the terrible and wonderful things people do to themselves and to one another, but in the end listening exposes you even more than it exposes the people you’re trying to listen to.”

Pg. 234: “But is it the kind of thing she likes to actually do? No. Because Margo knows the secret of leaving, the secret I have only just now learned: leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.”

Pg. 299: “Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will.”

Pg. 301: “When I’ve thought about him dying-which admittedly isn’t that much-I always thought of it like you said, that all the strings inside him broke. But there are a thousand ways to look at it:subs the strings break, or maybe our ships sink, or maybe we’re grass-our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is still alive. We don’t suffer from a shortage of metaphors, is what I mean. But you have to be careful which metaphor you choose, because it matters. If you choose the strings, then you’re imagining a world in which you can become irreparably broken. If you choose the grass, you’re saying that we are all infinitely interconnected, that we can use these root systems not only to understand one another but to become one another. The metaphors have implications. Do you know what I mean?” She nods. “I like the strings. I always have. Because that’s how it feels. But the strings make pain seem more fatal than it is, I think. We’re not as frail as the strings would make us believe. And I like the grass, too. The grass got me to you, helped me to imagine you as an actual person. But we’re not different sprouts from the same plant. I can’t be you. You can’t be me. You can imagine another well-but never quite perfectly, you know?”

Pg. 304: “It is saying these things that keeps us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them. The light rushes out and floods in.”