Friday, March 27, 2015

Taking a Stance

Last night's post showed my father holding a baby in his arms in front 
of the houses on First Street in Scotia, where first our family grew.
That baby was my brother, Richard. Here, we have moved to the farm
and he demonstrates his sparring stance.
This picture is also very interesting to me because of the furniture 
I can see in it; my mother went to lots of farm sales for furniture. 
The large cabinet below the bellows hanging on the wall 
is a Victorian design called a Bonnetiere, because of the space
behind double doors at the top, where ladies could store their bonnets.
My father refinished this to the natural wood color; my brother Dave has it now.
Atop the Bonnetiere is a washbowl with a brown design, which
we later used in the front hall in Shaker Heights for incoming mail.
Robert wrote a poem about that called The Mail Bowl, which I must look for.
The heavy mahogany piece with the square mirror was cut in half by Dad. 
We hung the mirror in the hall, and kept boots and rubbers under the lid of the seat. 
My niece, Bethany, has it now, I think. 
Later, my father lifted the wide-sawn floorboards under Richard's feet. 
They were fastened with antique square-headed nails, which Mom made him save 
and straighten and use again on the floorboards, which he re-installed 
with the hundred-year-old boards turned over, unused side up.

Richard was the one of us who learned to play the piano well, 
although Susan did master Fir Elise. I have just learned that Tomas Transtromer,
one of my all-time favorite poets, has passed away. When a stroke robbed him of speech,
he gave his Nobel Prize lecture by playing music written for the left hand.


The silent rage scribbles on the wall inward.
Fruit trees in blossom, the cuckoo calls.
It's spring's narcosis, but the silent rage
paints its slogans backward in the garages.

We see all and nothing, but straight as periscopes
wielded by the underground's shy crew.
It's the war of the minutes. The blazing sun
stands above the hospital, sufferings's parking place.

We living nails hammered down in society!
One day we shall loosen from everything.
We shall feel death's air under our wings
and become milder and wilder than we ever were.

Tomas Transtromer

translated by Robin Fulton
The Great Enigma, New Directions, 2006, page 187.

Amazingly enough, this poem turns out to have both death and nails (probably not hand-forged ones) in it--after I picked it out.
Such are the things that happen when one plays with words. 
Look for Transtromer's poems, they are world-class!

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