No rush is needed, now how shall I say?
No need to flit by like hobble-de-hay,
No call to race through the garden today.
Slow by the roses and bend to their blooms,
Notice the lilacs that waft their perfumes,
And smell how the daffodils sweeten their rooms.
You’ll get where you’re going so soon anyway,
Get there perhaps a bit too soon, I’d say.
Happier be if you don’t rush today.
Dec 14, 2007
No rush is needed, now how shall I say?
Dec 11, 2007
I stood with my back to the sudden blizzard that seemed to come out of nowhere and began to blanket the silent field, trying to get my bearings. When I turned, punishing gusts of icy wind whipped new pellets of snow across my face and stung my eyes. I was shaking, breathing in short gasps of the bitter cold, but I couldn’t imagine why. Something had happened, that much I knew, and apparently little else. How did I get here? I couldn’t remember. Where am I? I didn't know. I panicked.
Glancing about for whatever short twists I could endure, I saw only frozen stubble in every direction, and the field quickly filling from the heavy snowfall. I’m in shock, I guessed. Far off to the left I thought I saw a car—not the one I was drove—with its tires facing the sky. I couldn’t see mine. My God, I thought, I’ve had a wreck, a terrible wreck, and I can’t even remember it! Was anyone hurt? Killed? Was I alone? Am I injured? Surely I must be. Am I dead? I didn’t think so, but reality seemed beyond my ability to think.
I tried moving my feet and legs. Aha! I exulted, I could walk! Well of course you can, you idiot, I countered, how do you think you got here from the wreck? My hands were bare but not yet hurting from the cold, and nothing else hurt--not even a headache. My neck seemed a little sore perhaps, but that was all. Yet I could remember nothing. I thought I was somewhere familiar, but didn’t know where. What is this place?
I felt a strange calm stealing over me. I may be freezing. I have to go back, I thought, turning to face the wind and gingerly stepping through the crusted, crackling field in the direction of the car’s underbody I could just see over a distant rise to my left. It appeared to be about a quarter-mile away. The light was fading. I had to reach safety soon or I was afraid I’d pass out and freeze to death. Few had been on the roads; no one knew where I was or what had happened. Barb would probably be home from work by now and waiting, but she would have no way of knowing my life was in danger.
Slowly my memory seemed to return in waves, then fogs of confusion and panic would again flood in. I was on my way home from the campus, I remembered, driving alone on north five, outside the city by a couple of miles. I never even saw the driver of the van—the white van--yes! It was partly off the road, spun around and facing right at me in my lane when I rounded the turn. I had no chance to miss it, but its door was open. Its driver had abandoned it when he couldn’t get it back on the road, and was long gone before I had even hit it. I could remember that clearly now. Thank God, I thought, it was just me. At least I didn’t think there was anyone else in the van.
As night approached, the angry blizzard raged with even greater fury and slowed my progress, blinding me and forcing my eyes to wince against tiny spinning knives of sleet. It was becoming impossible to fix the horizon. The yellow-gray wreckage seemed to recede the closer I advanced.
Then it disappeared beneath the horizon altogether. I realized I was going down. My ankles and legs sank nearly to my waist in deep soft drifts as I half-tumbled into a ravine, and I grabbed onto a tree to stand up. The fading light left little detail to recognize, and I had to blindly trust my sense of balance over the uneven ground. Finally the ravine seemed to level out. Suddenly I slipped on ice under the snow and fell to one knee. I knew I was at the bottom, and the ice was mostly uncovered. I worried for a time about water underneath the ice and feared breaking through, but the small creek was frozen through, and I inched my way across it cautiously.
Finally I reached the other side, which was steeper. But I managed to climb up the slippery bank by grasping some saplings that held firm. The frozen ground held blessing as well as curse; had it been spring the soft mud would have loosed them from my weight as easily as pulling off candles from a birthday cake.
As I gained the top, I approached what seemed to be the top half of a wire fence, a few yards beyond which rose dark firs and large stones. In the gloom I couldn’t see an end to it in either direction. I tried to scramble over the it and managed to get my first leg over, but as I tried the second leg the wire caught my shoe in its irregular rectangles just as I cleared it, and again I fell, pitching forward onto a bank of snow that had drifted up against something hard, cold, and white, and I hit my head with a thud.
That’s the last I remembered till I was dimly aware of an owl plaintively screeching its night call. or was it a child’s or a woman’s voice? “Blaine,” the voice whispered.
I opened my eyes. Had I dreamed it? The blizzard had ended. The moon shone bright in a clear, starry night.
Raising my head, I saw dark roman letters carved into the white stone directly in front of me. As they slowly came into focus. I read my name. Underneath the small glyphs were dates: “Born-- July 10, 1939.” To the right of that, “Died—“ the remainder was covered by the drift. Gasping, I knew at once where I was.
“Blaine,” again I thought I heard my name faintly in the wind. “Blaine!” it was a female voice, louder this time—Mother? No. Mother always trailed down toward the end of my name,”
“Barbara?” I cried. "Over Here!"
With a trembling hand and my heart in my throat I reached out and scraped away the snow. “Died--. . . .” That's all there was. To the right, the stone was as smooth and unmarked as it had been when my parents first placed it a half-century before. Roger, my brother, had died of cancer when I was ten, and his was the first name the glyphs had completed. Mother had told me then that there was a place for me there as well if I ever wanted it. "Here! Over here!" I sobbed.
Jun 22, 2007
Fog was everywhere, and seemed it would last forever--so thick it was, I couldn't even see my feet as I stepped on indefinite matter. Yet I could not just stand still. I had to move, and I walked around aimlessly. When I stumbled into a ladder, I began to climb. Since the ladder was nearly vertical, I didn't know what it leaned against. Someone's house? Some building? Why was it there? I saw no paint buckets, building materials, or scaffolding anywhere, but as I said, things may have been there except the fog obscured them.
Who owned the ladder, who stood it upright, or for what purpose, I didn't know. Still, I felt I should climb it. I thought if I could climb above the fog, perhaps I could see things more clearly. But the ladder seemed impossibly high--was it a firetruck ladder used in cities? The kind it takes a front and a back driver to negotiate the corners? That might account for its interminable length, but I hadn't noticed any apparatus it was attached to. Still, there might have been. The gray fog had covered everything, swirling like waves around my feet.
How long I climbed the ladder, how many minutes or hours, I couldn't sense. It must have been for hours, even days. It was impossible to know where I had begun. It was impossible to know where I was climbing. It was impossible to know when I would reach the top, or what I would find there. There was only the ladder, my aching feet and legs, and the fog. Yet I continued in my ascent; not to climb from where I was scared me more, and the thought of backing down through the thick fog conjured up such demons in my mind that I imagined them chasing me up, and hurried up the rungs.
Then suddenly the fog lifted. I paused and looked around, and saw other ladders, and people climbing up them just like me! Some were below me, some above. But Some were nearly beside me. And I noticed one fellow who seemed to be stuck on his ladder, with his leg through a broken rung. He was no more than a few feet away, and down a few rungs. I couldn't tell for sure, but he didn't seem injured. When the rung broke, he had slipped and fallen through, but not far. His ladder caught his foot on the rung beneath.
He looked at me imploringly. "Give me a hand here, guy," he said. I reached down to try to help him, but he was out of reach by a few rungs. I backed down on my rungs and reached out, caught his wrist, and pulled him up. He twisted his leg free and took a deep breath. He didn't seem injured. "Thanks," he smiled. "I don't know how long I've been here. You're the first one I've seen this high up, but this damned fog-- ."
I was glad for him. The fog seemed to be lifting further, and our ladders seemed to rise up parallel as twin towers, straight up. I looked forward to the company as I continued upward. But my fellow climber, instead of continuing his climb, couldn't seem to get past the broken rung and gave up, then started down. "Hey," I shouted, "aren't you coming up?" He just smiled and waved me off as he lowered himself rung by rung, and was soon a speck in my view.
Further up the ladder I was nearly killed by another person--a young woman, I think from her scream, who flashed a blur of green and white through space only inches away and in a second disappeared below, sickening me. I didn't know if she had fallen from her ladder, or heaven forbid, had jumped. Or maybe she had risen to the top and could go no further, had reached her destination. I shuddered, took a breath, and thought of retreating downward, since the fog had simply lifted higher, but I still could not see the top. I felt compelled to continue my climb, at least till I could sense the top, the end.
Maybe there is no end, I thought. Or if there was, what did I expect to find there? Would it be worth the tiring climb? As I looked around, I saw the forest of ladders and climbers of the ladders stretching to the horizon, as far as the eye could see. Some were on the way up, some just looking around at this level or that, and some seemed to be climbing down. Sometimes there were two, three, or more people climbing the same ladder, it appeared. On one distant ladder I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Two climbers seemed to be fighting, flinging their legs out and around like boxers, trying to scramble over each other to reach the next rung. A thick-set fellow in a waving, colorful tie bounded down to the fight from several rungs above and, with one well-aimed heel to the jaw of the climber nearest him, kicked the challenger right off the ladder! He went back up, and the surviving climber seemed reluctant to follow too closely behind. He crept up the rungs more slowly, more warily now.
Then, as I regarded the ladders' endless stretch, I saw for the first time some ladders' tops! They just stood erect like all the others, leaning against nothing, or nothing I could see. But they ended, at various heights. They clearly had an end. I couldn't see enough to say if they had climbers on them anywhere along their visible length, or if anyone had mounted or tried their length. They just stood among the others, going nowhere.
Did all the ladders ultimately end like these? I shuddered. Was there nothing beyond their tops? Surely not, I thought. Ladders had to go somewhere, didn't they? Else why have them? And just the effort of climbing them so laboriously, for so long, surely had to have some meaning. Else why do it? And there was the fog, high, high above it all, hiding the tops of many ladders. There had to be something there, above that fog. There surely had to be.
I looked up again at the long, straight rails of my ladder, stared at the endless rungs above me, and felt as if my destiny converged, as the rails, at the vanishing point in the fog above. Again I began to climb the rungs, peering high as intently as I could, up, up into the inscrutable fog which continued to lift, rather than disperse, the higher I rose.
Jun 7, 2007
As Devon danced, he chose to drown
and turned around as he sank down,
turned and twisted round and round,
pirhouetting down and down,
Slowly lifted, a hand gestured,
Sad eyes smiled,
Pierrot Lunaire, a harlequin clown,
"Prete-moi ta plum-e," he mimed,
"Ma chandelle est morte,"
And as he danced, lowering down,
he gracefully bowed to curious fish,
May 15, 2007
Little boy, you’ve been hurt, you are bleeding.
Your father must help you walk to the doctor,
And you have trouble breathing.
You are so frightened that you can’t cry,
Though you try with all your might.
You fell off your bicycle—
You really shouldn’t have been riding it so fast down the hill, you know,
No matter how exciting the parade was.
But you will not die.
You will live to ride your bike again,
And to fall off again and be hurt many times in many ways.
But you will also live to experience the thrill
Of riding down the hill too fast again in the excitement of the parade.
I feel your hurt and your fear now
For I, too, have fallen victim
To the excitement of the parade.
May 14, 2007
I have a huge yellow blanket.
Absolutely huge, it’s wool.
I didn’t believe it when I first opened it up,
It just kept opening and opening and opening.
I love to lie under it.
It’s got a feel all its own.
I have dreams of being wrestled to death by it,
It opening out and tangling me all up in it.
What a delicious way to go—exhausted battling a
Huge yellow blanket.