Their commander was a middle-aged corporal--red-eyed, scrawny, tough as dried beef, sick of war. He had been wounded four times--and patched up, and sent back to war. He was a very good soldier--about to quit, about to find somebody to surrender to. His bandy legs were thrust into golden cavalry boots which he had taken from a dead Hungarian colonel on the Russian front. So it goes.
Those boots were almost all he owned in this world. They were his home. An anecdote. One time, a recruit was watching him bone and wax those golden boots, and he held one up to the recruit and said, "If you look in there deeply enough, you'll see Adam and Eve."
Billy Pilgrim had not heard this anecdote. But, lying on the black ice there, Billy stared into the patina of the corporal's boots, saw Adam and Even in the golden depths. They were naked. They were so innocent, so vulnerable, so eager to behave decently. Billy Pilgrim loved them.
I love this little passage, with its almost magically real image of Adam and Eve in the commander's boots. War and death. Innocence and vulnerability. Billy falling in love with them as he is flat on his back on the black ice of the frozen creek.
That's the way poetry happens, really. In the middle of the shitstorm of life, something beautiful surfaces. Today, I felt pretty lousy all day long. Hot then cold. Stuffed up nose then runny nose. Full of energy then exhausted. Right now, I feel like I could crawl under the covers and take a Rip Van Winkle nap. And there is snow and snow and snow.
I'm looking for poetry tonight. Having a hard time. Perhaps if I I take some Nyquil, I will find poetry. Neruda once wrote, "And it was at that age . . . Poetry arrived / in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where / it came from, from winter or a river." I have an idea for a poem I want to write for the poetry reading I'm giving this coming Tuesday. I haven't had the energy to put pen to journal. Still don't. I'm waiting for poetry to arrive.
Tomorrow, my son has a wrestling tournament. Maybe poetry will be there, cheering in the crowd. In the afternoon, my daughter has a dance rehearsal. Maybe poetry will be there in a leotard. In the evening, church. Poetry may be there, saying a few prayers.
I'm saying that I don't know when poetry is going to arrive. I just have to keep an eye out.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for . . .the possibility of meeting poetry at the concession stand.