Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In the Ever Present Rain


Yes, it seems it has been raining at least 40 days and 40 nights. The water drips down from the porch, over the stones, in a tiny rivulet, a mini waterfall over the green, green moss. The air is warmer than it was in the days of the hard frosts that covered the hillsides with glitter, but everything is wet.

When you walk the ground squelches. Champ the pitbull looks at me as if I am out of my mind as we set off for the hills or down the road. Go out in this? Get wet? I insist, and off we go, splashing through the streets turned into little creeks and the creeks turned to rivers.

Winter here sometimes seems to last forever, even though it isn't the closed in, cold winter of the east coast. I peer at the signs of green. I am pleased the tulips are rising up from the mud, that the geraniums I feared dead are showing green again, that the days are getting longer, second by second.

I think I can make it.

Winter has been healing and breaking my heart again. There have been deaths. There are always deaths, and don't tell me it is simply that I am older and people die--people have forever been dying in my life, and really...can't they stay around? So the guy who had the show following my poetry show on the radio died, and he was just a bit past 40, and his eyes were speedwell blue, and he was a joker and an artist and...

well, how come, world?

Meanwhile I selfishly was rejoicing that my oldest son made it through a medical emergency and a hospital stay and is healing, is well. But--having one's child go under a surgeon's knife has got to be one of the more terrifying moments of my life.

And so I balance that with my dead friend. At least it wasn't my son, I think. And I think--well, that is harsh.

"I was so lonely" says Scott, one of my friends who camps out in the rain by the river and who comes to talk with me when he has a moment and can be indoors. Scott, like my dead friend, is one of the blue eyed charmers of the world, worn and sobered by a lot of strange turns. But he's glad now, because a cat has come to live with him. From out of nowhere. He asks me a lot of questions about the care and feeding of cats, and I am so afraid this cat is just an opportunist, soon to vanish. But no, Big Cat seems to have settled for the winter with a gentle wanderer, content to sleep in an almost dry tent, on a special blanket I have dredged out of my boxes of rags and riches. There are good moments in the winter.

"Do the papers inside come with the book?" asks the very handsome young man, holding out a critical work on Nabokov as his very lovely friend browses the poetry shelves. I say yes. We always keep ephemera in the books as they came to us--the recipes, the love letters, the funny matchcovers, the grocery lists, and the newspaper clippings. In the Nabokov are mostly newspaper clippings--other reviews, notes on the author. I glance at them as I tell the young man the price of the book, and the total price of the interesting stack he has gathered. And I say "this book came from the library of a fascinating woman; she died a few years ago, but she was a good friend of mine"

And he says "she has some poetry in here".

I am startled by this, and ask...where? And he pulls out two sheets of folded paper. I laugh.

"She was a poet, that's true, but these--these were drafts of a poem I never finished. I'm so surprised she kept them".

He offers to return them to me, but I let go of that poem a long, long time ago. "I was probably younger than you are now" I say, "when I was writing that. It's so odd to think of that".

It's an interesting moment, this collision of the past and the present, and the future. I wonder what the young man or his pretty girlfriend may write. I wonder where their journeys will take them. I wonder why my friend, who once destroyed an entire pile of my manuscripts and letters, tucked away these two imperfect sheets of a poem that never really finished.

I write my name on a scrap of paper for my book buyer. And he thanks me, wondering perhaps...well, I'm not sure what he wonders. He has good taste in books, though.

And they walk out into the ever present rain, almost bumping into Scott who is come with another report on his new friend the cat.

(the photo is by someone called lepiaf. geo on flicker)

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6 Comments:

Blogger christopher said...

This is a lovely story. Thank you.

11:20 PM, January 19, 2010  
OpenID cemeteryconsort said...

I'm glad you are seeing green. We are a few months away from that, although this time next month I should start seeing crocuses close to the house, if they are not covered in snow.

Yes, somehow once something is added to a book, it seems wrong to remove it. I have old books with clippings in them, some from relatives, some from who knows. But they stay. They are like footnotes from the readers.

I'm glad your son is okay.

4:11 AM, January 20, 2010  
OpenID cemeteryconsort said...

I may have spoken too soon. First signs of green were seen today.

6:59 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger ocean lady said...

Moved as ever by your words. Deaths here too, my beloved aunt Barbara, and the daughter of a friend hanging on by a thread with her new baby just barely born, but spring is coming and the young woman, I feel sure of it, will survive. The cherry tree blossoms are filling the branches, even as El Nino storms thrash the beaches. And, as your lifetime friend, i plan to stick around your whole life if DNA and karma hold firm. Sending an image of sunshine in an email, stay tuned.

1:38 PM, January 22, 2010  
Blogger Lucy said...

No shame in being thankful it was your son; I'm glad he is well.

All lovely stories, odd how we leave things in books...

9:25 AM, January 31, 2010  
Anonymous marly said...

Very vivid squashy green world--and I liked seeing your bookstore with the young couple. You often talk more about people who come for more pressing things than books, and it was interesting to see a mix here. One gets a feel for the sort of coming and going life of a bookstore.

7:57 PM, February 22, 2010  

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