A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peter Hears the Cock Crow and Weeps Bitterly

Peter hears the cock crow and weeps bitterly

I wouldn’t walk these streets alone if I didn’t have a dog.
I wouldn’t have to, on the other hand.
I could hold fast in my fort.
Alarm the house, unalarm the car,
Make that foray once or twice a day
To work, to buy the bread or milk,
And back again.
Alarm the car, unalarm the house,
Dash in,
Hold safe.

I only note the cudgel because it seems so odd
To see it on a city street.
Heavy, gnarled,
The kind of stick you lean upon, hiking
In the Lake District, reciting Tennyson.
Where could he have found it, walking
On a downtown street?

He needs it, though.
He seems to sway a bit as he goes.
When he swipes at a pole, he staggers slightly,
Bangs it hard on the bricks,
Halts before he shuffles on.

Not that I’m afraid.
I’m behind him, after all.
It’s dark, he wouldn’t see me anyway.
I’m on my own street, my dignified and lovely street.
If the shelter weren’t at one end, the liquor store at the other,
No men with cudgels would use it as a corridor.

We’re passing by the courtyard of the lawyer’s place,
Ringed with yew.
I see a missile fly into the bush.
An empty bottle.
Outrage like bile rises in my throat.
What was the story someone told at last night’s meeting?
About the lady who told the punks
Excuse me, you’ve dropped something.
Don’t you want to pick it up?

He has a cudgel though.
I have a dog though.

He reaches the corner, turns out of sight.
I hear the stick clang against a pole, then another.
The dog waits, knowing we’ve reached the limit of our walk.
We turn, head toward home.
I pass the courtyard, cursing the old man.
It doesn’t matter, does it
What you say, or don’t say to a drunk?
What you say, or don’t say
When a man has a stick?


Downtown Secret

Here's a building I've always liked, home to a local locksmith. It's A. W. Gifford, Inc. on Lyman Street in Springfield. For those that don't know Springfield, Lyman Street is the last place you'd think to find anything interesting.

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