Friday, March 7, 2008

Rambling on a Rainy Day

Rain frustrates some people. They see their plans washed away, like a ballgame called on account of rain. Not me. I love it. And not just because we're in a drought situation those little droplets will aid in alleviating. Rain makes me introspective...which makes me want to write. Sometimes I don't have a clue what to write about, but when that gene gets itchy to play, my fingers seek a keyboard to help.

This morning began with a trip to the grocery store, prior to the rain's arrival. I'm happy to report it was boringly uneventful this time. Maybe grey skies keep weirdos indoors. Who knows. I got back in my car and began listening to a Book on CD which my sis-in-law had lent me. I almost didn't even bother because she groused when handing it over, "Here, see if you think this stupid thing is better than I did. I hate how it ended." I'm glad she didn't tell me...thus my curiosity would've been quelled before it even got started.

The book is entitled "Alone" and in the first five minutes I discover I'm about to spend the next couple of weeks commuting to a story about a police sniper. One who is accused of murder for doing his job. Now if this seems a bit morose, you have to understand that I tend to read genres that I'd never write about. Think Stephen King. Okay, so I don't read that bodice ripper romance stuff either. Why? Because it's not nice to giggle hysterically when someone took an hour or so to put together a supposed tale of love and lust complicated by greed and/or social status. I'm keeping the promise I made to myself last year to read for the last 45 minutes of my lunch hour. Last week I finished a Patricia Cornwell book. Let's just say for a polite, southern girl, some of my family don't understand why I'd read novels about a Medical Examiner...which includes detail. It's not because of blow-by-blow autopsies [yuck...I don't even watch stuff like CSI]. It's because I understand the world weary, overweight and burdened by the knowledge of what people can do to each other Detective. Him I understand. Knowing the world isn't fair, but participating anyway.

Yesterday, after discovering what will keep me company on my ride, I decided to lighten up a little at lunch. I pulled out Shug's book of poetry "Strange Bambo". Sadly, when I was growing up, poetry was often placed in the category of "For intellectuals only". Wordy tidbits for the artsy-fartsy crowd or college professors feeling a necessity to dissect each and every word searching for nuance and hidden meaning. I felt that way until I discovered Ogden Nash. How can you not like a guy who writes stuff like, "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker"? When I realized that poetry could be fun, I read more of it.

So with no need to perform autopsies on bodies of words, I opened Shug's book...and read it cover to cover. Yes, I did take time to "savor" but sometimes it was a phrase that snuck up out of nowhere that caught my attention to tug at my heart. "My Mother's Dictionary" spoke to me of a love of words that I totally understand. "Summer in Dumfries" made me smile because graffiti in public places is the same, no matter what part of the world you reside. As someone who's been in that uncomfortable box called Writer's Block which makes you reach for the most ridiculous concept at times, I laughed just reading the title "A Poet Sitting Under A Wall Mistakes Some Pints of Magnars For The Muse". Self explanatory. "The Lost Poems" made me think of stories I carelessly tossed aside, then longed to recover, knowing those thoughts defined who I was at the time the words arrived. "Marked" is a hilarious ode to grading papers while under the influence of liquid courage.

Two poems startled me....moved me unexpectedly, as if blindsided. All writers, no matter how hard they try not to, tend to leave a piece of themselves in their work. The first was "The Man Whose Last Kiss Was Me" in which a man goes from spontaneously celebrating a favorite team's victory to the cruel realities of life as his own is snuffed out. Then there was "My Father". An ode to the uniqueness of fathers everywhere...from offering advice to disarming intruders...it made me catch my breath in its contradictions. A man able to vault walls with ease as well as chase down his wife on a busy street to punch her. The father leaves and I suppose leaves his child wondering why...for a very long time.

A friend's father passed away yesterday and I recall her description of him filled with the same contradictions. The poetic father and hers both seem to succumb to a Jekyll & Hyde change when alcohol was introduced. It made me glad, quite selfishly, that my Dad never drank. Both the poem and her loss made me think about my Dad...the most unselfish human I ever met. I also inherited his off-the-wall sense of humor, which is good given I inherited his sinus problems as well. The combination of poem, loss and my Dad, who I lost 12 years ago to a particularly nasty cancer, made me remember how easy it is to take the good for granted. To assume that those you love will love you back and offer a hand up when you need it or a pat on the back when you deserve it. It drove my Mom nuts when my Dad would grin at me and say, "You done good." For someone who loves words, that grammatically incorrect phrase warmed my heart because there was pride attached to it each time.

There are times I am content to let my memory replay that line like a ghostly loop. I wonder, if our three Dads could sit down and talk, what would they say about us?


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