The house we bought in Shaker Heights Ohio in 1957 had a large formal front entrance
leading toward a wide stairway to the second floor. Here this space has been put to use
as a bicycle tune-up shop. In the center of the photo, Dad is wearing an old white shirt
no longer used to go to work at General Electric, as was his custom.
I never remember him wearing T-shirts or workshirts, Robert is at right, and David
to Dad's left. I think part of Susan is at the far left. I am in this picture, too.
The circular frame on the desk hold my preschool portrait.
I think I won an annual Pretty Baby prize for this one from the photographer,
who worked for the Barney's Department Store in Schenectady.
Maps are on the wall as learning tools, and probably
to attempt to disguise the decaying wallpaper.
The bright light on this group must be from one of those floodlights
on a home-made broomstick and metal garbage-can lid stand
that we used for taking movies.
There can be a lot of history in a photograph. . .
Old Man, Old Man
Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?
He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.
Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems,
University of Illinois Press, 1999, page 122.
Here is a mysterious poem about memory for The Memory Thread. Good night!