Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The art of forgetting

A Friend’s Umbrella
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?"
He'd nod.
She'd rise.
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. (
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Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing