Friday, April 30, 2010

After all the jacks are in their boxes

I was driving down 3rd yesterday, in the evening, and the light was so golden and the air so suffused with it that it nearly made me sad. Yes, that's what I meant. Sad.

Today, I walked around the block with Sophie, and she was tired. The roses in every yard were blooming red and white and peach and pink. Each bush carried what seemed like hundreds of blooms, and even the tiniest run-down house had a scraggly bush with ridiculously over-sized heads all over it. It's like Oz, I said to Sophie, and thought, again of Edna St. Vincent Millay and her springtime idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

The wind whipped up in the early hours of the morning, the arms of the tree in the alley beside my bedroom tapped on my window and woke me. It was a palm frond-dodging day of swaying trees, of skittering white clouds, the wind a sussuration.

After all the jacks are in their boxes 
And the clowns have all gone to bed 
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street 
Footprints dressed in red 
And the wind whispers Mary 
A broom is drearily sweeping 
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life 
Somewhere a queen is weeping 
Somewhere a king has no wife 
And the wind, it cries Mary 
The traffic lights they turn up blue tomorrow 
And shine their emptiness down on my bed 
The tiny island sags downstream 
‘Cause the life that lived is, is dead 
And the wind screams Mary 
Will the wind ever remember 
The names it has blown in the past 
And with his crutch, it’s old age, and it's wisdom 
It whispers no, this will be the last 
And the wind cries Mary


  1. I read these words and it gave me a inkling of a memory... I played Jimi Hendrix and closed my eyes and listened
    Your writing often gives me the hint of memory of a time when I used to really see, hear, smell life, before the tunnel vision, when I remembered how to breath.

  2. Thank-you, Elizabeth. This is one of my favorite songs of all times. Ever.
    And I know that sadness in the midst of beauty. And I know how much sadder, somehow, that beautiful sadness is.

  3. WOW! I never read that as a poem.
    I hope the beauty of the blue sky and all of those flowers warms your heart this weekend.

  4. Oh Elizabeth, I've been crying all day. Saw Ms. Moon mention your post, and decided to come over later, after getting control of my emotions. But here I am, and I'm crying over the beauty of your words. Just as I knew I would.

  5. Ah Jimi Hendrix. My daughter just walked over to the computer and I got to tell her about Hendrix and a different time.

  6. I'm so old. Hendrix is not just a memory, but a living part of my history. And this was and is a beautiful piece of art.

  7. I, of course, love this song. One summer long ago (1987???), when I was dating someone and Paul someone else, he mailed these lyrics to me. I still remember opening the envelope and seeing his large childish print and reading the words and feeling the tingles spread through my limbs, knowing that it wasn't just "a song he heard on the radio". (I'd been in love wit him for months at this point..)

    Thank you for evoking that memory and for the description of the roses..and I too sometimes feel that sadness in the golden evening light.

  8. I couldn't read or watch this yesterday, I knew it would be too real .

    as the sad, the broken pieces are , were, and will be

    love to you , Elizabeth

  9. Elizabeth, this post has me all choked up. Your prose is so lovely. I read and reread this, and then I turned and looked out the tiny window in my office and realized that everything outside was green and swaying deeply in the morning breeze.



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