Even long after he had left his childhood behind, or such of it as he had actually had, he could still stare up into the night sky, at ceiling of stars with more than a little awe.
And even though he had left childhood behind, no one had yet answered the one question his parents ducked time and time again, one so simple a child knew its answer, but asked anyway, for validation or irritation.
If God created the heavens why did He or She arrange the stars so that people could see in their order other people, lesser gods and all manner of animals?
Linking things is a human need, tenuous forces barely holding across synapses easily broken or lost, never to be replaced.
Ithaca is forever joined with Galway City, and I still have not figured out how to get the two people together as together is obviously what they should be.
She sits at a small table in the Commons, staring, waiting perhaps for a writer or lover who may be both, to come down from Cornell and join her, while Oscar waits patiently on a marble bench, hat by his side, telling Eduard of the woman he expects to arrive, trying to determine how to tell her that her friendship means everything, but it can be nothing more than platonic.
In my world they meet, she listens, fights back tears and promises always to be there, friends frozen in time and bronze.
People of the mountain are quiet, some say taciturn preferring to listen for the cry of the eagle, wind whistling its familiar tune through a pass snow rent from the face tearing down in a crystalline cloud.
People of the shore merge with the song of the waves, feel its tempo punctuated by the bark of the whale, the horn anchored in the harbor, the tavern disgorging its nightly catch into the streets.
People of the city stare at the bleakness of the stone monolith torn from the earth white tipped peaks barren, and the endless wash of the sea, licking at land and retreating an ill-trained pup but mostly at the ground lest it slide from beneath them.
We spent one morning of our visit to Key West wandering around Hemingway’s home.
The six-toed cats seemed to realize that we were cat people, came over to us, took us aside for a petting and conversation.
He was a tough old goat, they said, or so our ancestors told itm and we cannot begin to understand why you, cat people, so obviously intelligent would pay to see the old typewriter he hated, because the S and D keys always stuck
We scratched them behind the ears, sat by the empty pool, and waited for a literary inspiration we knew was never included in the ticket.
This is what I would tell my sons: “You came from an ancient people, a heritage of poets and tailors, or thieves and blasphemers, of callous men and slaughtered children. I would give you these books, written by God, some have said, although I am doubtful but driven by Erato, without doubt.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “I didn’t go to war — there were so many options and I chose one where my feet would touch only Texas mud, where the only bullets were quickly fired on the rifle range. I wasn’t one of the 56,000. I didn’t come home in a body bag. But I do stop at the Wall each time I visit D.C. and say farewell to those who did.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You have never known the hunger for a scrap of bread pulled from a dumpster, you have never spent a night on a steam grate hiding under yesterday’s newspapers from the rapidly falling snow. You never stood nervously at the waiting room of a dingy clinic waiting for a young, uncaring doctor to announce that antibiotics would likely clear up the infection but you should avoid any form of sex for a couple of weeks.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You come from a heritage of poets.”
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press 2008