Dec. 21, 2002

At Seventy-Eight

by Lucille Broderson

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Poem: "At Seventy-Eight," by Lucille Broderson from Beware (Spout Press).

At Seventy-Eight

        I hear in myself the lapping of water.

But I do not hear, I yearn to hear,
the lapping of water near the boathouse.
No longer to dream of death, sinking slowly, quietly.
There's no end to the clouds in the distance,
racing toward me over the water,
painting the water black.

Oh, fathers, why can't time move another way,
off through the fields, the snow-filled fields?

One hour comfortable, knowing the answers,
then the nagging way back in the brain.
The watch it! and then
the roadblock, the great spiked logs in the road.

This morning, fog, dew on the windshield,
the windows. The lakes an abyss,
the unknown, the unknowable.
Later, the sun and the lake wide open,
the red jagged rocks on the bottom
clearly visible and hardly a ripple.
At dusk the fog comes back.
Somewhere, a child swings in the twilight.

It's time, I say, to board up the windows
bolt the doors, drown the kittens
and feed the mice to the snake.
Time to haul off the rancid corn,
the dead cow and decaying horse,
to find the river and float away.

Somewhere, a child climbs library steps, stands small,
expectant by the librarian's desk.
Shelves and shelves of books. Banks of high windows,
Sturdy little chairs in a half-circle.

Live! snaps a crow from high in the cottonwood.
Wake! Wake!


And I do wake-
and know I've grown softer,
that the earth is not as hard as it was.
Today in these quiet woods, the sun shines,
clouds off over the lake,
clouds to every side
but here, the sun and the blue sky.

Somewhere, a mother at the dining room table,
books sprawled everywhere: Sunday's lesson.
The child sits on the floor and waits.

It's the birthday of writer Edward Hoagland, born in New York City (1932). He's an essayist, the author of Red Wolves and Black Bears (1976), Balancing Acts (1992), and Tigers and Ice (1999). He traveled widely and spent a lot of time in the wilderness, but in his fifties he became legally blind. Three years later, a series of operations completely restored his sight. He wrote a memoir about the experience called Compass Points (2001). When his sight was restored, his stammer, which had plagued him all his life, disappeared.

It's the birthday of Richard Hugo, born in White Center, Washington (1923). He taught poetry in Montana for many years.

It's the birthday of writer Heinrich Boll, born in Cologne, Germany (1917) He wrote The Clown (1963) and Group Portrait with Lady (1973), and he won the Nobel Prize in 1972. In the late fifties, he traveled to Ireland, and he eventually bought a house there. He loved the Irish saying, "When God made time, he made plenty of it."

It's the birthday of Anthony Dymoke Powell, in Westminster, London (1905). He wrote a series of novels called A Dance to the Music of Time.

It's the birthday of novelist and journalist Dame Rebecca West, born Cicily Isabel Fairfield in London (1892).

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




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