Out of Print

                                              Out of Print

Yesterday….

On our fidgety elevator, I cradled The Power Broker in my left arm, juggling my bag and keys in my right   (eager to release the weighty tome to the re-cycling table in the lobby….)

A sudden deja vu:

It was maybe five years ago that I toted Caro on this same elevator

When a lovely woman (we had been on nodding acquaintance) got on and exclaimed:

“Oh, isn’t he remarkable! That book was the highlight of my journalism seminar!”

 

Thus, another brief encounter that fueled so many subsequent exchanges and a warm connection.

How many connections…in the elevator, in the subway, on the beach….have been forged by a spontaneous response to the sight  of a well-remembered book!

(You know where this is going!)

We used to feel we knew someone by what they were reading.

Dostoevsky or Danielle Steele??

Whole life stories were woven from these fleeting observations.

Now, of course, we only see the Kindles….with nary a clue to character, or idiosyncrasy, or affililiation.

Lost stories, lost conversations, lost friendships!

Oh, Gutenberg, you should be with us in this hour!

 

 

Tagged

                                        Lesser Celandine

It seemed to me that the smiles that lovely

Sunday morning were inspired by

The bright yellow blanket of …buttercups??

The velvety, golden flowers, after a long, dreary March,

Shone like the very essence of Spring’s promise.

The generosity of Nature and the hope of Renewal !

Then, kneeling  in the middle of a lovely patch of these dazzlers, 

Teresa wiped her forehead with soil-soaked gloves and

Told me about Lesser Celandine, or Ficaria verna, or pilewort

An invasive species, toxic to human and animal life,

And the certain predator of all the hope of Spring to come.

Oh, how nature reminds us…sometimes… to beware

The bright and shiny!

Words Fail Me

                                          Words Fail Me  

Always.

How do you tell someone, “We have different sensibilities”? 

(Without causing pain?)

How do you tell an acquaintance, “You’re pretentious”? 

(Without sounding pretentious?)

How do you tell a neighbor, “You’re presuming too much ”?

(Without sounding unkind?) 

How do you tell a relative, “You’ve misinterpreted the situation”?

(Without sounding insensitive?)

How do you tell an ex-lover, “You never got me”?

(Without sounding angry?)

How do you tell yourself, “You’re ok the way you are”?

(Without sounding smug?)

No words.

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Water

                                    Holy Water

Yes, I swim for my body, but mostly for my soul.

No matter the agitation of mind, or stiffness of limb,

I emerge restored,  whole. 

Giving my body and mind to the water,

Letting it lift and support me,

I feel the absolute perfection of the world.

 

In the water I am five and twenty-five and forty- five and sixty -five

…. and I can even see seventy- five in the distance.

I only know how to dance in the water…it provides the rhythm and inspiration

That no polished  floor has ever offered.

I’ve discovered ideas and prepared classes and exorcised demons, absorbed in the meditation of the laps, 

My rosary in my most hallowed cathedral.

 

Ode to Maple Lake

 

                                    Ode to Maple Lake*

It was because of that lake that we bought the

house in Wyckoff.  On hot summer nights, we’d flee the concrete

of Paterson, climbing Lafayette Avenue in our old La Salle.

There were canopied green streets with no sidewalks or traffic lights.

There was a sunny, grey- blond woman who waved us down the dirt road

to our Illyrian spring.

 

I had gone back to Maple Lake to show my son the dock where

I hurled myself into my father’s arms and the rock where the turtles sunned and the hot dog stand just up the steep embankment.

But the sunny lady wasn’t there, the dirt road had disappeared, and I

could only just insist that a small lake and a dock and a hot dog stand had once really been there.

 

 

*”We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T. S. Eliot

Note:  Maple Lake, referred to as “the mud hole”  by more upscale Wyckoff residents who frequented “Spring Lake”, was, nevertheless, the “navel” of my childhood, the place where my passion for swimming began, and the only place where I remember “playing” with my father. ..sadly, some years back the Army Corps of Engineers deemed the dam unsafe and it was “condemned” (to become completely abandoned and overgrown). Now, thanks to Google, I see it’s for sale…if I only had a few million! 

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A Long Journey Home

                                                    Still There       ( 2/19/17)

I had imagined the porch would seem smaller,

But it still felt exactly right.

No matter that other people had inhabited this space for the past sixty years,

It was still mine.

It was still the stage for our talent shows, the place we jumped off with capes on, the setting of my one and only birthday party (orchestrated by me)….

“I still remember you, fieldstones….each and every one of you!”

The long, circular driveway hadn’t changed, nor the tall linden trees.

I wanted to slide down the cellar door….just one more time!

I remembered exactly where the earth slanted, exactly where the neighbor’s house stood, exactly where I buried our goldfish….it was all still there.

Vivid sensory reminders of a magical childhood….all still there.

Myself before I constructed myself.

Myself fully alive and still there.

*Yesterday’s “field trip” to my childhood home, a field stone house in Wyckoff, NJ. A magical  place which I lived in over sixty years ago and which still lives in me.

A Kind of Pied Beauty

A Kind of Pied Beauty*

Gerard Manley Hopkins* thanked God for “dappled things…

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)”

 

And I had that feeling today encountering

A blind man and his blind daughter, faces fiercely resolute

And slender canes ponderously tapping

On the downtown platform at 34th Street.

I hesitated

But their “confidence” stopped me.

Then, moments later, they arrived (with me)

On the uptown platform…(maneuvering a tricky underpass)

This time I determined to “help”.

But, a young, non-English speaker had taken over

And despite his earnest efforts….father and daughter

Proudly sauntered on….knowing where they wanted to go.

 

And then (and here’s the pied beauty of it all)

I landed a comfortable seat just across from a beautiful woman from 1945…

Her gorgeous, thick grey hair swept back with a barrette,

Her mink coat serenely wrapped around her…

Her hands gloved in tiny polka dots…white on a black ground…

And when I saw her matching polka dot umbrella…

I knew that, like GMH, I had truly had a pied beauty experience.

 

*“Pied Beauty”  Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918)