Apr. 16, 2009

After the Ice Storm My Son Does Not Come Home

by Diane Lockward

Hours after he stormed out, wind knocks
ice off the roof, startles me awake.
2 AM—light under the door. Not home,
and I'd said no later than midnight.

I practice deep breathing, natural tranquilizer,
five counts in, hold it in the diaphragm,
let it out slowly, repeat five times, relax, and go back
to a sleep without dreams.

It's been so long since I've dreamed,
I'd be grateful now for even that old one
where I show up someplace important, take off my coat,
and I'm in panties and bra, or worse, naked.

And I'm still wondering if he'll be okay,
if he'll ever find his way home,
if maybe I'll be happy when I'm old,
and if I can wait that long.

Hours later I wake and see the first crocus
pushing purple through the sheen of ice.
A day of lifting towards the light,
the delicate petals unfolding.

I want it to be like that for him—
sunlight, the wind will stop blowing,
and he'll find his way home.

"After the Ice Storm My Son Does Not Come Home" by Diane Lockward, from What Feeds Us. © Wind Publications, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Gertrude Chandler Warner, (books by this author) born in Putnam, Connecticut (1890). She's the creator of the Boxcar Children series. She taught first grade for more than 30 years. She was home sick one day when she thought up the story of the Boxcar Children. As a child, her family had lived near the railroad tracks, and she spent hours watching the trains go by. Sometimes, she would catch a glimpse through the window of the caboose and see a little table, cups, and a tin coffee pot boiling away on the small stove. She was fascinated by the idea that someone was living in the caboose. So when she decided to write a story for children, she thought about those trains. The Boxcar Children series is the story of four orphans, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, who range in age from six to 14. Their parents die, and their grandfather is granted custody. But the children are afraid that is a cruel old man, and so they run away and set up house in an abandoned boxcar, supporting themselves and living an independent life.

Gertrude Chandler Warner said that after it was published, many librarians objected to the story because they thought the children were having too much fun without any parental control. Warner said, "That is exactly why children like it!"

She wrote the original 19 Boxcar Children books, and in the years since, more than 100 titles have been added to the series, written by other authors.

It's the birthday of novelist Kingsley Amis, (books by this author) born in London (1922). He wrote Lucky Jim (1954), That Uncertain Feeling (1955), and The Old Devils (1986). He said: "I dislike men and women when they are cold-hearted (a reserved manner is okay), unpleasant to those who can't hit back (waiters, etc.), unable to allow others to finish a sentence, stingy, disinclined to listen to reason and fact, bad hosts, bad guests, affected, racialist, intolerant of homosexuality, anti-British, members of the New Left, passively boring."

It's the birthday of playwright John Millington Synge, (books by this author) born in Rathfarnham, just south of Dublin, Ireland (1871). After college, he went to Germany to study music, and then he spent seven years in Paris, writing literary criticism for magazines and newspapers. Then he met the poet William Butler Yeats, who told him that instead of trying to work his way into literary circles in Paris, he should go to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and write about the Irish-speaking peasants who live there. And that is exactly what Synge did. He spent four summers in the Aran Islands and gathered material for his two most successful plays, Riders to the Sea (1903) and The Playboy of the Western World (1907).

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




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