It has been a good day. Church in the morning. Then Book Club in the evening. This month, we read Fannie Flagg's newest novel--The Whole Town's Talking. It was a good read. I finished it last night.
We met at my best friend Lydia's house. We barbecued hot dogs and brats. Had a good salad and some berry trifle. Oh, we also talked about the book. We sat in Lydia's backyard, surrounded by flowers and running fountains. My son went in the hot tub. The discussion ranged far and wide--from karma to immigrants. We were there about four hours.
Tonight, we are packing for our trip tomorrow. We are headed downstate to Boyne Mountain for a few days of relaxation. I am really looking forward to getting away, disconnecting.
Today's episode of Classic Saint Marty first aired two years ago, when my life was in turmoil . . .
July 30, 2015: Red Pajamas, Wormhole Existence, Sharon Olds, "The Present Moment"
The night before, on Christmas Eve, after spending the evening
with Luis and the family in his living room after a lamb dinner and
after making toasts to friendship and love; after Luis had left (around
midnight) and Ives had finished talking to his daughter and his sister,
Katherine, about the next day's plans (dinner at his daughter's and
son-in-law's apartment at three), he got into bed beside his wife; after
carrying on to Annie about the cruel and selfish changes in the
political climate of the country in regard to the poor and disadvantaged
(unfairly condemned in Ives' words to "a hopeless future") and after
kissing his wife, Ives slept through the night serenely. That morning
he awoke in his bedroom to find his son, Robert, about six years old, in
red pajamas and thick black stockings, alive again and playing quietly
in the corner of the room with his toy soldiers, jousting horsemen,
black knights versus white, moving them across the floor. And even
though Ives knew that his son had been dead for nearly thirty years, he
now saw the boy looking out the bedroom window of their old apartment on
Claremont into the courtyard, which was glaring white with falling
Ives frequently dreams about his son in the
years following his son's death. Sometimes, Robert is an adult,
serving as a parish priest in a church. Sometimes, he's still a
teenager, getting up early in the morning to deliver newspapers. And,
sometimes, he's a little boy, playing with toy soldiers in Ives' bedroom
on Christmas morning. Memories and dreams and visions of Robert haunt
Ives for the rest of his life.
This afternoon, I went
to have lunch at the surgery center where I worked for my sister for 17
years. Many of my friends still work there, including one of my very
best friends. All the people there know my sister. As I sat at my old
desk, eating, I looked down the hall, to the door of my sister's old
office. I could see a sliver of light under the door, on the floor.
several strange moments, I actually thought that the door was going to
open and my sister was going to come out of the office, calling out to
me the way she always did, "Hey, Mart." She would be dressed in her
blue scrubs, the surgical bonnet on her head and her shoes covered in
blue booties. It was as if I had somehow stepped back about four or
five years. I could actually hear her voice.
course, that version of my sister is gone. I know that, just like Ives
knows Robert has been dead thirty years in the above passage. But,
where I work, I'm surrounded by reminders of my sister every day.
Walking through the medical center parking lot some mornings, I still
catch myself looking for my sister's van. I'm living a wormhole
existence, in the past and present simultaneously. I think it's
because, out of everybody in my family, I spent the most time with my
sister over the last 20 years. Ten hours a day, five days a week, not
It was literally painful this
afternoon when I realized that her office door wasn't going to open,
that she wasn't going to come out.
Saint Marty needs to have lunch somewhere else tomorrow.
The Present Moment
by: Sharon Olds
Now that he cannot sit up,
now that he just lies there
looking at the wall, I forget the one
who sat up and put on his reading glasses
and the lights in the room multiplied in the lenses.
Once he entered the hospital
I forgot the man who lay full length
on the couch with the blanket folded around him,
that huge, crushed bud, and I have
long forgotten the man who ate food--
not dense, earthen food, like liver, but
things like pineapple, wedges of light,
the skeiny nature of light made visible.
It's as if I abandoned that ruddy man
with the swollen puckered mouth of a sweet-eater,
the torso packed with extra matter
like a planet a handful of which weighs as much as the earth, I have
left behind forever that young man my father,
that smooth-skinned, dark-haired boy,
and my father long before I knew him, when he could
only sleep, or drink from a woman's
body, a baby who stared with a steady
gaze the way he lies there, now, with his
eyes open, then the lids start down
and the milky crescent of the other world
shines, in there, for a moment, before sleep.
I stay beside him, like someone in a rowboat
staying abreast of a Channel swimmer,
you are not allowed to touch them, their limbs
glow, faintly, in the night water.
And now some love poems on the eve of vacation . . .
Mysteries of Light
by: Martin Achatz
With cherry blossom soap
2. First Miracle
I eat strawberries
Their tender flesh, their
I, Neruda at dusk
Whisper in my wife's ear
Kiss her fingers
Feel her breath
Given up for me
Sweet, seismic bread