Monday, June 10, 2013

Whispering Pines

Do you know that song, a Richard Manuel/The Band plaintive cry? If you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream --

I hear that song in my head today as I scurry about, mailing packages, filling out forms, going to the grocery store, diapering and dressing Sophie, fixing her hair and putting her in the backyard swing where she'll sit just for a minute, while I write, I said, and I gave her, it, the swing, a shove, told the dog to stop barking and ran up the back steps into my room, inside my room, my lonely room, there is no in-between. What else comes to me but songs from other lives, that other life, that I penned in small spiral notebooks, in tinier script, even a poem in French that I picked out of a stack the other day, opened and read, remembered.

Pour la premiere fois
j'ai vu la Saturne
et je pense a toi
deux lunes autour d'une
lumiere brilliante.

I spent two weeks hiking in the wilderness of the Adirondacks one summer between my junior and senior years. I had Pascal in my head, read St. Augustine on a bus with a big girl named Cheryl, wrote character notes about moon-faced women and boys tripping on LSD, camp lantern lighting the page. Our instructor was bald and stooped, a leprauchan who knew the names of all the trees and plants, the rocky paths, the peaks. I came back thin, so thin, from twenty mile hikes, seventy, eighty miles in, a sixty-five pound backpack wrapped on my already small frame. I wore a blue cashmere sweater with cables, thin in spots, and when we climbed down and dispersed, I spent the night alone in a hotel room in Syracuse. I shaved my legs in a porcelain tub and sank, deep, into hot water. I ordered steak and a potato, had it delivered to my room and devoured it like a beast. The next day I flew back to school, was met at the airport, I think, by a boy, but I can't be sure. I can feel you standing there, but I don't see you anywhere -- I will wait until it all goes 'round -- With you in sight, the lost are found --


  1. i dont even know what to say. except i read that twice, as if lost in a dream and wanted to stay in that place where everything was still possible. it's so very beautiful but also sad, which has its own sweetness.

  2. I have loved that song for so long.
    I, too, have been dredging memories lately. We have led some lives, haven't we? And aren't we glad?
    And again, what a beautiful post.

  3. Lovely...Brought a tear to my eye.

  4. Oh Elizabeth! I may have to start memorizing your lines as I once did Millay's. Beautiful!

  5. Wow, I haven't heard that song in SO LONG. There's something about music that can bring back past moments like nothing else. I can imagine you, skinny from hiking, relishing a steak in that lonely hotel room in Syracuse, no in-between.

  6. Oh, and by the way, I love that picture.

  7. I hadn't heard the song, but when I listened, it brought a whole new meaning to your words. So melancholy and wistful. I can see you there, with flowers in your hair. The past just haunts sometimes, doesn't it. But everything is still possible. As you once told me, you never know where your life will take you.

  8. the story of your hike whisked me away. thank you.



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