Thursday, June 21, 2007

just a bit of light

The photo is one my eldest son snapped one day on a hike. My long hikes over the hills and through the forest lands are mostly memories, but he continues the tradition, without even having known that it was my comfort, my writing workshop, and the way I tested out the endurance of his father, who was 24 years my senior, but kept up with me very well in those old days.

These days, for me, are days of busyness shot through with the light of sudden memories. Gifts, and losses. Sometimes I'm not sure which is which.

Following news of my friend Berk's death--indeed, five minutes after I posted those paragraphs--I received news of the death of the father of my highschool sweetheart. We were together--10 years? 12? that poet-historian and I, and his father stalwartly disliked me every day of that time, because I was not Jewish. And because, he would add, I was sloppy and a dilettante and--oh, I don't know what else. They were probably always true things, though they cut to my heart.
I cried when I heard the news. He was in his late 80's, I had not seen him for--let me think--perhaps 35 years? I heard news, bit by bit.
And he is dead now, with his cleverness, his passion for Israel, his baritone voice. There's not a story I can tell now, not really.
And I don't really like being struck silent and bewildered.

My dearest friend from highschool stopped by a couple weeks ago with her mother, on a whirlwind tour of the coast, up to Canada. Over pancakes her mother told me stories and paused to say "I can see the young girl you were". I laughed and said I was glad, and that she is probably the only one now who can do that, look back through the decades to my 15 or 16 year old self and cherish that lost girl and all her dreams. It's a precious thing. Her daughter, my dear friend, mentioned the possible journeys of our retirement..or, well, her retirement. Retirement isn't in my dictionary of possibilities--but I could be tempted to weekends of irresponsiblity, in the name of the young crones everywhere ( & with fond nods to Lori and Marly). The mother--my own sole mother of the heart, in absence of those of blood--is 84 now, and vibrant as ever. I wistfully wished I really did share those enduring and clever genes; my friend says perhaps, by long acquaintance, they rub off.

It's a good thought. I'd love to be in my mid 80's racketing off somewhere. Or maybe hiking again, a little slowly, but with great stubborness. Climbing towards the light.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

out of the sky

I have asked for a sabbatical from death and grief. But, I am not quite certain where my application should be filed, and perhaps that is why people keep dying. I feel like a puzzled child some of these beautiful summery days.
One of my friends said Sunday, "oh, you heard about Berk?" And I he said, dead. But we didn't have the details.
And why should the details matter, I wonder. I spent a day thinking...I don't think he was ill, but sometimes these things come quickly. Heart attack? Maybe a car accident in the mountains. And I waited.

He was a pilot. One of his joys was flying a little airplane, just about everywhere, off in the wild places. And it seems he and his wife, Suzanne, were off in one of those wild places, and took off to check some Idaho canyon. They were due to meet up with some other friends--other pilots--at some point. And that was Thursday. And they didn't show up. But the friends thought--well, they were adventuresome, maybe they camped elsewhere, having gone a bit off course or something. And that was Friday. By Saturday people were looking, by Sunday they'd called in the officials. And caught a faint, a very faint signal from a deep canyon, and spied the wreckage, and found the body, and Suzanne, beside it, injured but still alive. And they pulled her free.

So what do we say? "Oh, he died doing what he really loved" "Gosh, guess it was his time" People say all sorts of things. I think of Suzanne, with her long golden hair, beside her partner of the past 30 or more years, watching nightfall, dawn, nightfall, dawn, nightfall again, and dawn again. And what did she think, and what did she say?

But I'll never, probably, just come out and ask her. And I wonder at my own--story creating heart, that is pondering this, trying to make sense--but also seeing a story, or a poem, or some way of making it all a bit more..bearable.

Like words. "the body".

Not: Berk, who was funny, and involved in all sorts of things, with whom I fought and with whom I worked. Whom I called santimonious and patriarchial. Who laughed at me.

My eldest child posted a memory on a local blog. Seems he recalls the white bearded Berk at the Oregon Country Fair, holding a glowing hoop, inviting everyone to pass through it to the other side, to a new dimension. My son, who is more acquainted with death than many, says no one ever dies. He's kind of like my youngest child in that matter--Gabe too says death is nothing at all, though he is prone to now and again beg his papa not to die yet. My eldest, however, thinks it is love that holds our friends here, forever.

I guess it's as good a story as any.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

throwing you a rose or two

Hmmm. I'm not sure if this is the same photo I put up on "jarvenpa's notebooks" (see the nice link to the side of this page, it's my other blog) some days back; my dear daughter took a couple at my urging. No one can have too many roses in their life, even if it is the same rose twice. This is just a quick check in post, inviting you to go visit the other blog for a moment or two, though I realize poetry is a specialized taste indeed these days.
I'll be posting something new here fairly soon I hope, though whether it will dwell upon the bears (we have return-of-the-bear-tribe going on at my cabin), the beauty of enduring friendships, merriment or sorrow--well, you know, I'm not sure. This evening the sky is darkening to evening-in-Paris blue, I am nostalgic and melancholic and listening to some lovely unknown music...baroque, I think, on the local radio station, played by a woman who also grows roses in my little town. But really I must go and fix pancakes for my youngest child, who has been promised these for days. Pancakes often take temporary priority over poetry in my life.
The rose, for those who care, is a David Austin rose, "Teasing Georgia". And a beauty it is, growing in the parking lot garden.