The stones and arches cross an ancient river and lie hidden now behind a junked car and a patch of bamboo. The Trimethos River has changed course and a new bridge spans it on the main road out of town. The echoes of Count Gibelet’s horses, his soldiers, the burdened donkeys carrying loads of carobs and swinging leather pouches of wine, the monks from Constantinople, the Russian pilgrims off ships from Syria, the invaders with their broad swords, a carriage full of women, its window flaps down pulled by white horses, they have all passed over where I now kneel knee deep in mayweed and scarlet pimpernel. When we asked the shopkeeper at the church store up the road where we could find the bridge, he told us just down the road apiece. “We should really raise the money to fix it up,” he added. It wasn’t hard to find. We could see the ancient stonewalls follow the waterway from the new bridge to a patch of bamboo, a rusted Morris Minor and farther down shaded by giant fennel and stately juniper the hint of arches. We drove to the far side of the river, climbed a wall, followed it, and stood on the pebbled road. The water rushed beside us on its way to the sea and the archway stood dry. The early spring sun cast a spell as we joined the tallies and lists of those who over the centuries have crossed the Venetian bridge near the town with the church that angels built, on an island in the midst of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Archive for February, 2012
I picked romaine lettuce in the rooftop garden beds off the library and then went home. The sun is out later in the afternoons, the cool air comes down from snowy Mt. Olympus, and the sky is cobalt with a glimmer. Jars of humus are in all the shops since Green Monday and the Lenten season begins next week. I have mushrooms steaming in red wine; green beans cooling for the salad; and a bottle of French uncorked. Life brims over, boils over on the burner. I keep my eyes wide open just in case.
I handle books on a daily basis. I talk about them and I am told about them. I order them. I try to fill the library shelves with variety, keep clean copies of classics, and order bestsellers. What are books but big ideas. I’m not interested in being entertained but some readers seek it.
I found Bleak House on the shelf. I had ordered it as a classic from a list I use to help with my selections. Dickens’s best it had said. When it arrived several years ago, I shook my head and smiled thinking I had made a mistake. No one in my library would read this enormous book, no matter how entertaining or instructive.
But I am.
A few days ago, I was looking for descriptions of the slums in Victorian England, so I took the book home and began reading. If my iPad hadn’t been stolen, I would download it. The book is a trial for me to hold, one thousand pages and tiny print.
As a reader, I am mystified by it and fog filled London. Dickens chastises his world. He wanted me to feel that and I do even though his world is gone. Or is it? He cared as a writer about what I would think. It’s grand to converse with a genius.
When I am done, I will put the book back. The next someone who asks my opinion about a good book, I will mention Dickens. What a storyteller! I am over bestseller lists right now and on the trail of those whose names we know so well but have forgotten.
My last brush with this was Walt Whitman.
“They had time to think,” the English teacher said.
I can’t dismiss his passing comment.
Someone asked me, “Where are our children going?” and I answered, “ I am not sure. I see them jump, laugh, hit; I see them hug. They are going where we have all gone before and after.”
Then someone said, “We’ll make a better place.”
“Yes,” I said.
“You mean like those children over there, sitting still, each alone?”
“Sure,” he said.
“For certain,” she said.
I closed my eyes. I rubbed them. I walked for a time and then a time again.
“Dare I look?” I asked.
I took off my cap, looked and cried.
I dried my eyes and returned to my bookcase and took down Leaves of Grass and read it over and over again.
In several years, I gave it to my granddaughter.
I said, “ this is your school, absorb.”
She laughed and threw it to the wind and the leaves reached heaven.
I said, “throw it to the wind and watch it return on angels’ wings.”
She smiled and it did in seconds with open pages for open hearts.
Someone asked me, “Where are our children going?” and I answered, “ I am sure. I see them jump, laugh, hit; I see them hug. They are going where we have all gone before and after.”