Oddments

In search of story


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May 31.21: Coping

I was born during World War II and do not pretend to remember the horrors. I do vaguely remember Tip Top.

My dad had a critical skills deferment because he worked for American Steel Foundries, which manufactured train parts, essential to the war effort. Those men worked long, long hours. With a purpose. He had two sisters, one in the Marines, the other in the WAVES; they had the same purpose.

Mom and Dad spoke of the get-togethers for friends who were on their way to serve, and who never came home. No one who remained home would pretend to be in the same situation as those in combat, but the ration books tell of shared purpose, which meant in some cases making meat loaf for six with Knox gelatin and a cup of chopped meat.

There has been copious bloodshed before and since, and it would seem our species is hell-bent on extinguishing itself. So we might grow numb to the dying. Maybe we already are numb.

Therefore, it’s wise to have a day to not be numb and to think deliberately of those who died to protect a way of governing that theoretically we value, and to ask if, here and now, in shared purpose, we would be willing to eat Knox Meat Loaf.

 


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May 27.21: Coping

EXITS

High school.

Do the words send you running? Or do you wistfully look back and linger?

I am not a reunion person. I go back only in my head, where I can be mid-century instantly, without having to see my senior picture again.

Those were manically formative years; our senior selves bore little resemblance to our freshman selves. Perhaps no other life storm, except a newborn, telescopes so much change into a short time.

My high school was built in 1914. My mother had walked those halls before me. Only the students changed. Then came 1967, the fire and renovations, and everything changed. So it’s a good thing I’ve kept the old school in my head, where time hasn’t touched it.

The main staircase — all three stories of it — was my favorite part. Each stair was worn in two places, where feet went up and where feet went down. Saddle shoes, penny loafers, all stepping to the bells.

This is that staircase, these the main doors. There would come a last opening outward and I couldn’t wait. I was so done with homework! And then, to my astonishment, I cried. At the last concert, the band president presented the traditional senior farewell gift to our saintly director, as I stood off-stage behind the curtains. And suddenly I sobbed. I was totally unprepared for that. To paraphrase a contemporary philosopher: What? Me miss high school?

But dust to dust, yes, dear reader? The building is about to become a parking lot for the educational Acropolis rising next to it.

My old classmate Ann says it was a dump when we were there, but I loved its oldness. Dark wood. Room numbers painted on transoms. Tall windows. Wood desks that never heard of ergonomics.

I find myself clutching certain memories more tightly because memories do reside in things. When the things are gone, will the memories also be gone? While walls stand, a little part of us can say it’s not over. It’s a nice deception. And then it’s a parking lot.

 

With thanks to photographer and classmate Art Lindeman.

Submitted to Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge.

 

 


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May 22.21: Coping

Victor Herbert wrote songs for my parents’ generation, so I was raised with some of them. One, I think, he wrote especially for writers: “Ah, sweet mystery of life!”

Writers know the mystery of life is words. Mysteriously they come. Mysteriously they go. Who can understand?

I’ve been without words for a few weeks now. Total blank. Tabula rasa. Nada. Zip. I’ve started a few blog posts that were the undead of writing.

Meanwhile we’ve gone overnight from Too-Cold-To-Garden to Yikes-It’s-Suddenly-Summer-and-Get-Those-Plants-In-NOW! It’s been wonderful to take my dejected writer self to the dirt.

It used to be that digging in my dirt was about worms. Now it’s about cicadas. More, there’s a little bush in front festooned with their overcoats. Apparently a bunch of cicadas got together and decided to shed simultaneously, leaving their outsides dangling on my little shrub like so many crispy-looking ornaments. Ick.

That ghostly emptiness speaks to me. The writer is only an exoskeleton when she doesn’t have words, and the wind whistles through her as she dangles from some metaphorical shrub.

I know that my sadistic muse is nearby, smirking.

 


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May 9.21: Coping

The world’s a big place,

it can tucker you out

when you’re trying to figure

what it’s about.

That doesn’t change much

as we age through the years,

those grass blades of life

still up to our ears.

We still need a wing

for safe featherbed,

but sometimes we rest

on a memory instead.

 

I’m not a big fan of Mothers’ Day, dear reader. However, I am a fan of mothering because mothering gets us started in life.

There are many who are not biological mothers but are mothers nonetheless. I salute every one, and I wish a happy day to all who mother.

On a more (typical) curmudgeonly note: you know, dear reader, I hate these geese; I do not thrill to see another generation. It is only with pained reluctance I am forced to say this snoozing fuzzball is maybe a little bit cute.

 

 

 


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May 4.21: Coping

Kirk had it wrong;

that Final Frontier

isn’t some star —

it’s much more near.

It’s when you decide

you’re going to paint

and are sharply reminded

that young you ain’t.

This job designed

by Beelzebub

requires my head

between toilet and tub.

I used to could bend —

that’s historical fact —

but now I can’t seem

to be so compact.

My hips both object,

my knees ping and crack,

that creaking sound

is my lower back.

This be my swan song,

I won’t try this again;

I’ll adjust my horizons

to more accommodable yen.

I’ll hope to complete

and finish it nicely,

then I’ll turn in my brush

and hang out at Mos Eisley.

 

 

May the 4th be with you, dear reader!

And, yes, I’ve mixed Star Wars with Star Trek. Maybe poetic license is the REAL final frontier. I should have thrown in a Captain Video secret decoder ring.