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Home at last, and a poem

Mr Psmith and I are finally back home after a week-long combination business/pleasure trip to the (very soggy) midwest.

The pleasure goal was to see a bunch of family, including my brother J (recovering from a seven-year case of severe Ph.D. which resulted in the biggest diploma I've ever seen) and 8-year-old nephew P (a bundle of energy if there ever was one and a devoted fan of I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H and Star Wars, I have high hopes for him); my grandmother (95, still going to French club and playing bridge every week); and my Dad, who turned 71 on Thursday. Since J and P live only about 40 minutes from Dad he was kind enough to come pick us up, and en route to his house we stopped to see my aunt and uncle and cousin B, with whom we had a rousing political discussion about how horrible the governor of this particular state is, so much so that even his own party hates him. Then a couple of days with Dad during which we ate sushi and got to visit the aquarium in town (VERY nice!). Saturday night most of the extended family -- step-siblings, half-siblings, spouses and offspring ranging in age from babes-in-arms to last week's high school graduates -- gathered at a restaurant for dinner, after which everyone came back to the house for homemade strawberry shortcake courtesy of my sister A. Scrumptiousness and boisterousness abounded.

The business goal was some consulting for an organization near my hometown that has a museum, library and archive and wanted a professional evaluation of what was needed to house and maintain it properly. Quite interesting stuff; took tons of photos and will be writing up a report for them over the next couple of weeks,

Both goals achieved, we got home early this afternoon to find all of our menagerie well, though the rats had emptied their water bottles and one of the cats had eaten some lily petals and barfed on the arm of the couch. Ah well, could be worse.

Since we were traveling on Sunday I indulged in a Sunday New York Times (bliss!) and found this jewel of a poem on p. 50 of the Magazine. Spending time with family made me think of summer evenings of my childhood, the warm darkness, voices calling, the streetlights coming on, and this seemed to say something about that, about how a moment can be both old and new, eternal and yet fresh: "nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else"

One of the Evenings
by James Richardson

After so many years, we know them.
This is one of the older Evenings -- its patience,
settling in, its warmth that wants nothing in return.
Once on a balcony among trees, once by a slipping river,
so many Augusts sitting out through sunset --
first a dimness in the undergrowth like smoke,
and then like someone you hadn't noticed
has been in the room a long time...

It has seen everything that can be done in the dark.
It has seen two rifles swing around
to train on each other, it has seen lovers meet and revolve,
it has seen wounds grayscale in low light.
It has come equally for those who prayed for it
and those who turned on lamp after lamp
until they could not see. It deals evenhandedly
with the one skimming downstairs as rapidly as typing,
the one washing plates too loudly,
the one who thinks there's something more important,
since it does not believe in protagonists,
since it knows anyone could be anyone else.

It has heard what they said aloud to the moon to the stars
and what they could not say,
walking alone and together. It has gotten over
I cannot live through this, it has gotten over This did not have to happen
and This is experience one day I will be glad for.
It has gotten over How even for a moment
could I have forgotten?
though it never forgets,
leaves nothing behind, does not believe in stories,
since nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else.

It could be anywhere but it is here
woth the kids who play softball endlessly not keeping score,
though it's getting late, way too late,
holding their drives in the air like invisible moons a little longer,
giving way before them so they feel like they're running faster,
It likes trees, I think, it likes summer. It seems comfortable with us,
though it is here to help us be less ourselves.
It thinks of its darkening as listening harder and harder.

Comments

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nursedarry
Jun. 4th, 2013 06:49 am (UTC)
Just sent you a PM. Check your in-tray ;)
delphipsmith
Jun. 4th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
Got it :)
teddyradiator
Jun. 4th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC)
What a sublime poem - I do not read enough poetry anymore. As someone who started out writing lots of poetry (I think it was the rhythm of it that first attracted me), I read too little of it, and if this gem is any indication of what is out there, I am obviously missing out.

I'm so glad you had a lovely trip - when I lived in the UK and would come back here for infrequent visits, it was family that I longed for and grew homesick for, not the hometown or the conveniences of the US.

By the way - I was thinking about you this morning. Would you mind if I picked your brain about a couple of things in The Toils of the Just? Weird question, I know, but it's been on my mind for a few days.
delphipsmith
Jun. 4th, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
I do love good poetry -- one of my favorite parts of Tolkien was the songs and poems :) And of course, my brain is yours to pick here or via PM, whichever you like.
mundungus42
Jun. 4th, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
*squishes you tightly* What a wonderful trip! I'm so happy your family is doing so well, and congratulations to the newly-minted PhD! As a native midwesterner, I hear the rhythms of spring and summer so clearly in the poem you shared, complete with flickers of fireflies and the whine of insects and choruses of frogs. Just wonderful- thank you so much for sharing it!

And nothing says summer like homemade strawberry shortcake!

Edited at 2013-06-04 04:30 pm (UTC)
delphipsmith
Jun. 5th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
Good food and good conversation FTW!! It really was just a lovely trip, though too short. There was a Frida Kahlo exhibit we didn't have time to see, and Dad wanted to take us to the new Superman movie. Well, one can't have everything, I suppose -- but we came pretty close. Glad you liked the poem!
madeleone
Jun. 4th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
So glad you had a great trip. It's always nice to travel, but equally nice to return home. :)

Loved the poem, for some reason, for me it evoked childhood memories of all the neighborhood kids gathering after dark to play Ghost in the Graveyard (Do kids even do things like that anymore?), telling ghost stories in the dark with flashlights, and other games involving scaring ourselves witless. Of nights, racing around catching fireflies in a jar, or lying on our backs in the yard staring up at the stars. Or when I was older, a teenager, coming home from a date and sitting in the car in the driveway in the dark kissing, neither one of us wanting the night to end. Then his unending embarrassment at HIS mother (he lived just kitty-corner from our house) flashing the porch light on and off to get his attention to "get your butt home, boy!"
Oh yes indeed, good times those were.
:D
delphipsmith
Jun. 5th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
"Me too" to all of those, though for us it was just Tag or riding our bikes like the next Mario Andretti. Ghost in the Graveyard sounds spooky-fun, wooooooo...
madeleone
Jun. 5th, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
LOL I had to google it because I couldn't quite remember how it went. It was a bit different from what we did but I suppose it's a regional thing. We called it red light-green light. It was a kind of reverse hide and seek, but in the dark. One person would hide-he was the ghost- everyone else waited together for a specified amount of time, probably counting to a hundred or something. As you left the home base to look for the ghost everyone chanted "a red light a green light, I hope the ghost won't come out tonight." I can't quite remember how it ended, it seems like if you found the ghost you went screaming "ghost, ghost, ghost!!!" back to the home base which was safe, once revealed the ghost had to catch someone who then had to be the ghost for the next round. It was especially scary because it was in the dark and you never knew where that damn ghost might pop out of. ;D
ennyousai
Jun. 6th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Somehow the only thing I can think is, "Wait, you have two cats, a dog, and...rats?!?!?"

(Glad you had a nice trip!)
delphipsmith
Jun. 6th, 2013 02:41 am (UTC)
Oh, not just two cats, a dog and four rats -- we've also got six tarantulas, three scorpions, three degus and a tank of fish. We are quite the menagerie. Mathematically speaking, on average there are 3.3 legs per creature in our house. Without the fish it would be 5.5!!

Edited at 2013-06-06 02:41 am (UTC)
ennyousai
Jun. 6th, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
SIX TARANTULAS. NO. NO. NO. NO. HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?!?!?!?!?!?
delphipsmith
Jun. 6th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
Well, for one thing they're all in one room with a door that is always shut, and most of them are too big to get under the door. Wait...that doesn't sound like something that should make me feel better, does it??

But srsly: Mr Psmith is an awesome bug-wrangler and takes very good care of them, including making sure they never escape. (And trust me, if by chance one did escape I would be at a hotel so fast you'd think I'd apparated!!)

I'm just glad we don't have the scolopendra gigantes any more. That one really did make me nervous...
ennyousai
Jun. 6th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
The degus, at least, appear very cute. But NO. NO TARANTULAS. I get anxious enough thinking about all the terrifying arachnids lurking around me that I can't keep out no matter how hard I try; no need to bring more in.

I like how the description of the gigantes calls it "aggressive and nervous," usually not two words you want to see in conjunction with one another.
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