Mar. 8, 2009

If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year

by Tina Kelley

If life bloomed once a year, if we sat in dim rooms the rest of the days, resting,
she would come here for that noontime, to see children waist high,
their attentions wandering like wall eyes, making noises that sound to a single person
like severe distress or pain, but mean delight. She would hear a father shouting
"Olivia! Wait for Maggie!" whatever good that does. Sun off the lake
makes bright veins on the underside of a Japanese red pine,
lightens the bark like a buttercup held under it. She would see the limp-legged wasp,
the bumblebee with jodhpurs of pollen, straddling the sweet stigma of the purple hosta.
She would see the shadows of the waterbug's feet, circled by sharp light.

If she could have her love for this garden only one day a year
she would take souvenirs. Everyone does — a snapshot, a sketch, a stone, a sentence,
two nuggets of food for the koi, moist, in the pocket of size 6x shorts. The honeybees
hump their rumps over their work, walking on the globe of a cloverhead.
She sees that the waterbugs move so seldom, is each polished slide an annual event?
She would lie down and read and walk away stronger,
with the memory of the comfort of the sun on the soles of her bare feet.
Bullfrog, dragonfly, buttercup, snow lantern, vine maple, honeybee,
cloverhead, waterbug, moonlight: She wants this by moonlight.

"If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year" by Tina Kelley, from The Gospel of Galore. © Word Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of writer John McPhee, (books by this author) born in Princeton, New Jersey (1931). He writes for The New Yorker, and his subjects have included canoes, geology, tennis, nuclear energy, the Swiss army, and his family tree. He was rejected by The New Yorker for 10 years before he finally published his first article there.

When someone asked him what he writes about, McPhee said, "I'm describing people engaged in their thing, their activity, whatever it is."

It's the birthday of the Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., (books by this author) born in Boston, Massachusetts (1841). He joined the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers to fight in the Civil War, and he was shot once in the chest, once in the neck, and once in the heel. While recovering from his third wound, a family friend came to visit and asked Holmes what he'd learned about war. He said, "War? War is an organized bore."

He decided to study law. He became a legal scholar and lectured at Harvard. In one of his lectures, he said, "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience ... and it cannot be dealt with as ... a book of mathematics." Teddy Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court, and he served for 30 years.

When he retired, he said: "Life seems to me like a Japanese picture which our imagination does not allow to end with the margin. We aim at the infinite, and when our arrow falls to earth it is in flames. ... You have given me the companionship of dear friends who have helped to keep alive the fire in my heart. If I could think that I had sent a spark to those who come after, I should be ready to say goodbye."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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