“… the world is new.”

“In memory yet green, in joy still felt,
The scenes of life rise sharply into view.
We triumph; Life’s disasters are undealt,
And while all else is old, the world is new.”

– Isaac Asimov


It’s 6:21 in the morning, and I’m dressed for work. I’ve been up since 3:11 am, which is not that unusual for me. I’ve done 40 minutes at the gym, watched a bunch of football highlights, put out the garbage and recycling, and read a few work emails in the last 3 hours. I normally would already be at work, but something is wrong with my car, so I’m waiting until 7 when the auto repair place opens to bring it by.

I think it would be hard for most people to imagine living my life; but then, I think it’s hard to imagine living anyone else’s life. Most of us could not have imagined that we would live the lives we have lived. This is because life is big and full of randomness, and by “randomness” I mean, things outside of our control.

Most of us authors / introverts are kind of control freaks: in our works, we can make things come out like we want them to. This is rarely true in actual life.

This time last year, I was sitting beside my mother’s hospice bed in Green Valley, Arizona. The almost three weeks I spent there are a part of me now. My mother’s view of life was that we are all just links in the chain: she had seen her parents pass, and they had seen theirs, and so on.

I think seeing her three children made it easier for her at the end (we were taking turns, several weeks at a time). She said to me, at the end of a day when she’d mostly slept, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

I grew up near the beach in Northwest Florida, the youngest of her three kids. We still have photos of a time my parents took us out to the beach in the fall, just to take pictures.

And yes, it was warm enough to go barefooted. I was, I believe, 6 or 7 years old.

My mother’s journey took her from upstate New York all over the world. My mother-in-law, who lives in town and is ninety-one years old, was born here after her family fled Russia/Poland to escape antisemitism. She’s lived a life impossible to imagine, although I ask her about it every chance I get.

Life is a great chain, I think: we are all connected, both back through our ancestors and to each other. But each link is still different, with unique memories and experiences.

And while we can’t fully imagine each other’s lives, it’s worth trying.

Incantation

We ran and played until the night;
Our shouts rang out across the beach,
And though exhausted, wanted more,
As headed to our houses, each

Would say aloud, “I wish we’d stayed.”
To parents smiling in the front,
Before we fell asleep ere long,
And dreamed of trick, and tale, and stunt

And words repeated, endlessly:
Our play, a joy, a revelation —
Running, jumping, singing songs,
With breath-filled childhood

An incantation

November’s Chalice

I was, I think, a hurried man.
To get to where and what my goal;
A confidence, a worked-out plan,
An inside-out, and fevered soul,

When she November’s chalice brought
For me to sip the honeyed wine
I’d wanted, and through seasons sought,
But that was hers, and never mine.

She was, I see now, flourishing
Upon the edge of certainty;
An interlude for nourishing
A strength that lay in dormancy,

And I, I was a puzzle piece
She had to lay upon a board
To find her own way out; release
The limits she had kept, and stored,

For she, when she was just a girl,
Had built a picture in her mind
Of what was not to be her world,
A summer costume-tale confined —

    But I saw autumn: elegance,
    And she responded to my eyes:
    It wasn’t me she ever saw,
    But her own, pure reflection

    Within the chalice gleaming red,
    Of falling hard and straight surprise
    I’d taken in before I knew
    What lay in that direction —

It was, I know, not all that long
Before I felt December’s blue
Come crashing down in loneliness;
But what was left, and what is true

Is that what we take in is ours.
For some things lie beyond regret:
Like autumn days, and once-drunk wine,
That aging hearts remember

Yet

If Memory Was Made of Glass

If memory was made of glass,
And I could see right through,
Perhaps I’d see it clearly: how
It’s always been with you

Perhaps then I could understand
What led you to each choice:
The demons on your shoulder, and
Your broken inner voice

But such has not been mine, as yet –
Clear-sighted memory –
And so I search these waters for
Some bit
Of clarity

A Dating Story

We walked along pretending
That we, too, owned boats.
We each barely owned shoes,
But we looked good, we thought:
For our particular brand of penury
Has never hurt the young.

She was very blonde, her family
Swedish, but her skin looked like
It didn’t care for sun that much.
She wore a hat, her blonde hair blowing
Everywhere around its edges, and
Behind her sunglasses.

I was bright in my array, and
Proud of who I walked with, although
Perhaps it wasn’t as rare an occurrence
For her as I might have thought at the time.
No matter: she was with me, when she was,
And there we were.

We split a Coke late in the day,
With change I’d found in the sofa cushions,
And rode my old car back to town,
Where I dropped her off so she could get ready
To go to work at the theater.

If you are wondering why
Our particular date didn’t really have anything like
Events in it, so did I, after almost every date.

But as stories go,
It has at least the merit
Of being true

Once Upon A Moon

He told her, once upon a moon,
That “love’s a true-and-always thing” —
They watched the curtains turn to night,
And heard the song the first-birds sing —

She wishes now, upon a star,
That he’d float back on some balloon;
But all is loneliness, and cloud,
And once, was really once
Upon a moon