Saturday, June 30, 2012


Day was departing, and the darkening air
Called all earth's creatures to their evening quiet
While I alone was preparing as though for war...
-- the Inferno of Dante, Canto II --

I hesitate to talk about time. There are days when it’s a friend of mine, and days when it is not. I am always acutely aware of it. It comes and goes, follows me around, sometimes kissing my fingers and toes, sometimes pulling me down to the ground. I can live without a clock. I much prefer light and shadow. Sun and moon and stars. Morning Glories, Four O’Clocks. Daybreak and Nightfall; the holy hours. But I don’t live alone and must comply to keep the peace. “Do not disturb” is a sign I can not hang on my door. The world wants more of me, to be sure of me. And when some heathen asks me for the time, I must produce the truth in their way and not mine. Five thirty five and all is well. Proof. I am a member of the human race and running on time. The bluefish aren’t biting and that’s swell, because I don’t like blue fish anyway. I’d much rather have chicken salad on rye toast at six forty six. With potato chips and a jewfish pickle on the side. I’m allowed to make jokes. It’s called a perk. Life gives us a few. I’m allowed to rhyme. I am me. I am not you. Your time is not my time. Your restrictions are not my restrictions. I have things to do that can’t be done inside a shoe. There is an endless starry sky to consider and investigate. I cannot wait for something as trifling as tomorrow. I cannot wait for vapid time to spring me. I will pierce and I will perforate and I will plow. I know how to manipulate my universe; I know how to maneuver my row boat. And when my arms get tired, I’ll take a little rest on the outskirts of eternity.

Isn’t it strange how something as simple as a child’s nursery rhyme can influence an entire life? After writing the above paragraph I realized how strongly, deeply it is connected to one of my earliest memories. And why do we remember some things, things that often seem insignificant, and not remember others? Certainly there must be a reason. Perhaps the things we remember are like dots in a puzzle, that, when connected, provide a picture that is our life. And the lines we use to connect the dots are a time line. And perhaps, the things we do not remember are the bulk of our existence, the color, the fill. And maybe, when the last dot is connected to the first, we have come full circle, and the picture of our life is complete. What happens to us then? Time will tell, I suppose.

I remember lying in my bed, in the room I shared with my brother Pete on Andrews Avenue. The walls were lavender. The bed we shared faced South, There were double windows on the South wall of our room, and sheer white curtains billowed in the breeze. There was a Dandelion hill outside the windows that rolled down to a tree lined creek. On the other side of the creek there was a boulevard called MacDade. And on the other side of MacDade were the real houses with the real people. Brick houses with garages and basements, inhabited by people who were somehow and for some reason, better than us. People with children who were not allowed to visit us, play with us, in the “project”. If you lived in the project you were not really legitimate. You were rif-raf. Pitiable. Poor. Yet we were not pitiable or poor. We had mothers and fathers. We had food and clothing. We had television sets. Our little houses were clean and warm. Our fathers went to work everyday and our mothers stayed home and took care of us. We played games in the street at night. We were happy and we were blessed.

After we said our prayers at night, and mother had tucked us in, she put on the record that we loved to listen to as we drifted off to sleep. We could see the stars, and sometimes the moon. There was nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to worry about. How could any child ask for more? If there was more, we were not aware of it. I hope that when my last dot is connected to my first dot, I will be as unafraid and worry-free as I was then. And I hope that you too, will be as blessed when the picture of your life has been completed.

Winkin, Blinkin and Nod, by Eugene Field

Winken, Blinken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe --
Sailed off on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in the beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Winken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in the beautiful sea --
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish --
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fisherman three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam --
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe
Bringing the fisherman home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea --
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Winken and Blinken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoes that sailed the skies
Is the wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fisherman three:
And Nod.

No comments:

Post a Comment