Retrospective Reluctance

Retrospective Reluctance

Now that 2011 is behind us, I’d like to skip the retrospective and forget that there ever was a fire or a murder  or a flood; But the stores are still closed on Main Street, and Michael Martin’s sister just posted on my blog, and MacArthur is not the road it once was.

I search on the internet and the find that the only thing new about Richard is my own writing on this blog. What’s happening? It’s been almost half a year. Wouldn’t it be convenient to imagine Richard never existed?

But then I think about the Martins. How are they moving forward? How important is the trial to them? When is the trial?

(I was just called for jury duty; but not for a criminal case–Thank God.)

Yesterday, I came upon a poem about being in prison. My son was home sick and asked if I’d read to him while he ate his soup. I picked up the book that I found at the Marlboro Book Swap last year, and blew off the dust. I had intended to read excerpts from A Call to Character on a regular basis, but the practice died long ago.

“Let’s find something about kindness,”I say.

My son smirks with embarrassment.  Just a moment earlier he snapped at me in that sardonic “tween-age” fashion.  In my best NVC, I let him know it stung. With his big heart, it pains him to know that he’s hurt me, even if he can’t help himself.

“Darn, there’s no section on Kindness, only Compassion” I say. “But you’ve got plenty of that.”

“Read anything,” he says, delighted to have me seated beside him all day.

I flip through the stories and plays and fables, and a poem catches my eye in the Self-discipline category. I begin reading… to myself.

“Read aloud,” my son begs.

“This one is about being in jail; I don’t think you’ll like it.”

“Read it,” he says; and so I proceed:

Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison

...To wait for letters inside,
to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
                              is sweet but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget your age,
watch out for lice
                       and for spring nights,
       and always remember
              to eat every last piece of bread--
also, don't forget to laugh heartily.
And who knows,
the woman you love may stop loving you.
Don't say it's no big thing:
it's like the snapping of a green branch
                                             to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors.
I mean, it's not that you can't pass
        ten or fifteen years inside
                                       and more--
               you can,
               as long as the jewel
               on the left side of your chest doesn't lose its luster!

(Nazim Hikmet)

Kelly Salasin, January 2012

ps. My apologies to those of you who clicked the link to MacArthur Rd above. I couldn’t help myself. That song won’t leave my mind today, especially as it rains on top of our long-awaited snow.

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A Tale of One Funeral

A Tale of One Funeral

In the East a funeral for a mother; and in the West a funeral for a father–as if pain was a child–requiring a hand on both sides of our state.

Fires and floods, murders and accidents. How much will Southern Vermont be required to take?  At first I thought the curse was on Brattleboro, but there seems to be a similar infliction on the Deerfield Valley.

This morning, friends in the West attended the funeral of not one, but two fathers–both killed in the same tragedy–one by accident, the other by anguish.

I headed East for another two taken–Rita Corbin died 11 days after the collision that also claimed the life of her 17 year-old grandson. But it was love, not loss that echoed in Rita’s absence; just as it had after the fire and the flood and the murder. And so it is, that I offer the echo of love to our friends in the West, in the hope that a sweeter balance can be restored.

A Mother’s Legacy

Is there any greater testimony

to love

than joy?

The Corbins make music

of their mother’s life–

the strumming of strings,

the stretching of chords,

the tender gifts of

rhythm and melody;

The tempo of a life

lived on

in

family.

Kelly Salasin, December 2011

The “W” Word

The “W” Word

open clip art.com

It is time to “put the padlock on the gate” says the notice to members of South Pond, the timeless gathering place of summer.

This is crushing news to those of us who hold onto the sun until the ice freezes our fingers, and releases them, frost by frost, until we have lost our grip on summer, and even fall.

Today’s was a hard frost, but at least the sun is shining. Yesterday, when it was mostly grey, I saw my body flinging itself off a cliff over and over again. Luckily I was in my bed, under the covers, with a novel, ignoring the coming gloom of November.

In the evening, a friend invited us to gather around a fire in the woods behind her home. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do anything. But I did, and I was a better for it.

As the first star pieced the sky, I soaked up as much yellow and orange and red as I could from the flames inside her pit. This is our way of capturing the sun, I thought.  This is our way of making it ours, until it returns again to wake the world in tender greens.

Snow is the forecast this week. Snow.  There. I said it. The “S” word. (But I refuse to say the “W” word–no matter what the forecast.)

As a Vermonter of 18 years, I accept snow around Halloween, although I welcome a balmy night on which to Trick or Treat. Either is possible this time of year, as the Earth begins to rock us toward the “W” word– into that long, white slumber of deep.

Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT