We'll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learnt to sing again
When you come home once more
for Richard Pacholski
Avoid storms. And retirement parties.
You can't trust the sweetnesses your friends will
offer, when they really want your office,
which they'll redecorate. Beware the still
untested pension plan. Keep your keys. Ask
for more troops than you think you'll need. Listen
more to fools and less to colleagues. Love your
youngest child the most, regardless. Back to
storms: dress warm, take a friend, don't eat the grass,
don't stand near tall trees, and keep the yelling
Down - the winds won't listen, and no one will
see you in the dark. It's too hard to hear
you over all the thunder. But you're not
Lear, except that we can't stop you from what
you've planned to do. In the end, no one leaves
the stage in character - we never see
the feather, the mirror held to our lips.
So don't wait for skies to crack with sun. Feel
the storm's sweet sting invade you to the skin,
the strange, sore comforts of the wind. Embrace
your children's ragged praise and that of friends.
Go ahead, take it off, take it all off.
Run naked into tempests. Weave flowers
into your hair. Bellow at cataracts.
If you dare, scream at the gods. Babble as
if you thought words could save. Drink rain like cold
beer. So much better than making theories.
We'd all come with you, laughing, if we could.
A former head of an English department in a British university tells a true story of an old Eng Lit professor who was fed up with getting cod literary theory stuff from his students (the rest of the staff encouraged it). In one tutorial, a student was irritating him to death by insisting that, on account of the autonomy and multivalency of the text, and the irrelevancy of authorial intention, a statement in it could mean absolutely anything the reader took it to mean.
The professor said, "Ah yes, very interesting point, what you're saying, then, is that a statement can mean one and only one thing - that thing that the author intended it to mean."
The student said, "No of course not! I said that a text could mean anything that the reader..."
The professor interrupted, "Yes yes, I heard you, You were saying that a text can only be interpreted one way"
The student became indignant, "Ï didn't say that, I said exactly the opposite!"
The professor sighed and went off to get a cup of coffee.
Thirty -- the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand.
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.