A Friend’s Umbrella
by Lawrence Raab
Ralph Waldo Emerson, toward the endof his life,
found the namesof familiar objects escaping him.
He wanted to say something about a window, or a table, or a book on a table.
But the word wasn't there,although other words could still suggest
the shape of what he meant.
Then someone, his wife perhaps,would understand: "Yes, window! I'm sorry,is there a draft?"
Once a friend dropped by to visit, shook out his umbrellain the hall, remarked upon the rain.Later the word umbrellavanished and becamethe thing that strangers take away.
Paper, pen, table, book:
was it possible for a man to thinkwithout them? To know that he was thinking? We remember
that we forget, he'd written once, before he started to forget.
Three times he was told
that Longfellow had died.
Without the past, the present
lay around him like the sea.
Or like a ship, becalmed,
upon the sea. He smiledto think he was the captain then,
gazing off into whiteness,
waiting for the wind to rise.
"A Friend's Umbrella" by Lawrence Raab, from The History of Forgetting. © the Penguin Group, 2009. Published with permission. (buy now)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A Friend’s Umbrella
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The Place I Want To Get Back To
by Mary Oliver
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darknessand first light
came walking down the hill
and when they saw methey said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sittingon the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the wayI go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forwardand nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed that brief moment?
For twenty yearsI have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit.
I live in the house
near the corner,
which I have named
"The Place I Want To Get Back To" by Mary Oliver, from Thirst. © Beacon Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)