Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Passing By

Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.                                                            ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
One Exquisite Picture
(Or excruciatingly sad violin
farewell to Boston's downtown Borders.)

Oh, hello there. I wasn't sure when I'd make it back either. Then, there was the needling question: Am I prepared to come back?  One minor issue: I haven't settled upon a few sensible words. Which, incidentally, seems of no importance as I've once again misplaced my steno pad. And I'm surely not dressed for a big return—barefoot, in rumpled clothing and disheveled hair. As it were, my writerly chapeau is not fitting well and is in need of a large, pearl-topped hat pin to keep it sitting squarely, and securely, upon my head.

Frankly, I'm not fit to step out, to pass by if even briefly, into grid-swoosh. (Maybe I'm troubled by the potential for gridlock.)

But, I have one little song for you:

(Zaz speaks—or shall I say, sings—for herself. The song title means: passersby. Here are the lyrics in French and English.)

And more—one good poem:

Passer-By, These Are Words 
by Yves Bonnefoy

Passer-by, these are words. But instead of reading
I want you to listen: to this frail
Voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

Lend an ear, hear first of all the happy bee
Foraging in our almost rubbed-out names.
It flits between two sprays of leaves,
Carrying the sound of branches that are real
To those that filigree the still unseen.

Then know an even fainter sound, and let it be
The endless murmuring of all our shades.
Their whisper rises from beneath the stones
To fuse into a single heat with that blind
Light you are as yet, who can still gaze.

May your listening be good! Silence
Is a threshold where a twig breaks in your hand,
Imperceptibly, as you attempt to disengage
A name upon a stone:

And so our absent names untangle your alarms.
And for you who move away, pensively,
Here becomes there without ceasing to be.

* * *

Today the children are back in uniform and at school. Everything passes quickly. Even the things we think will never pass, like babies in diapers, toddlers of the terrible-twos, threes and fours, and sleepless nights pass. I look back and can barely see where those moments once stood. I've not done much to record them but for photos and a few scribbled notes. I remember little bodies scampering about and firm biceps that could pick them up or stop them in their tracks. I remember little voices, loud and exuberant, and often, chafing. All these things pass.

Now, junior high and high school have become a slice of what is here.

My fourteen year old son still has his pre-pubescent early twelve year old voice recorded as a greeting on his cell phone. "Hi, this is Max. Leave a message after the tone."  I thought I might mention this to him before the start of high school. But I couldn't. The under-six-foot intonation is too cute. It makes me smile—and for the time being, is my oral token of what once was there.

We are all just passing by. I'm glad to be passing by here once again. But I really should get dressed and find my notepad and some sensible words.

The real Exquisite Picture
By Étienne-Jules Marey


  1. Enjoy every moment - it passes so quickly.

    Soon they are off to college or walking down the aisle.

  2. ha. mine are grown and the girl has kids in junior high and high school. she was just lamenting that very thing.

  3. Lovely post. Noooo! Don't tell him about the answer phone message.

  4. Ah, I say don't tell him. And call it every day. (But I'm sentimental that way.)

  5. i'll bet you 50 cents that old wolfgang didn't do that stuff every day. i wouldn't last a week.

  6. A slice of what is....I love it! J-Girl, seeing your words on my screen was a nice eye opener for me, a lovely piece.
    You will find that steno as I am sure I will find mine....all my crap is still in scary looking boxes in my spare room, gathering dust whareas they should be gathering words, ideas and fragments...

  7. Well I love your not so sensible words, spew them anytime. And it sure was great to have you pass by even with rumbled clothes and disheveled hair. (Bare feet are normal in KY) :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  8. Loree- College! I don't want to hear that yet! :)

  9. Ellen- I like that you still call her "the girl."

  10. Dicky- I'm holding off. It's not like his friends call--they only text one another now. Call and talk? That would just be plain weird. ;)

  11. Danger- Ha! I should call everyday. But he's back in school and that may pose a problem now. Then again, he never answers his phone no matter where he is.

  12. BP- You don't think so? Who has the time?! But then again, he didn't have me to condense it all here. ;)

  13. Dan- Oh, it's so good to be back. And I bet you're filling up those notebooks. In fact, I'm going to take a peek... ;)

  14. Jules- Bare feet... I think I need to visit Kentucky. Do I have wear a hat, though? ;)

  15. I don't blame you for wanting to hold on to the twelve-year-old memory. My oldest started college classes yesterday and my youngest started tenth grade the day before that. The other two are lost to The Wanderer's Call. (They seem to find their separate ways home for a hot meal, a hot shower and laundry services...)

  16. i didn't even notice your mussed up hair! ;)
    i was in a shop today and 'man on the moon' came on the radio and i weirdly started to get all choked up. why? idk, i guess because andy kaufman was talented and he's dead and then it made me think about how we really can't hold onto any of this, it's all so fleeting and unpredictable in a way. ...and i was totally drunk too...haha, just kidding about the drunk part. :)

  17. Lovely lovely post -- and a wonderful Goethe quote!

  18. Mine are grown...enjoy while you can!

  19. My Dear Jayne, You've said so well what we all feel. Actually, I was all tangled up in similar thoughts just this morning…how everything passes by so quickly. A part of me wants to reach out and catch hold of things, but everyone knows that you don’t lean out of a speeding car and grab at things…one could lose and arm or a head that way. So, we plop down on the cold sidewalk, and watch things pass us by, sitting on our hands, as our hearts reach beyond our grasps.
    Thank you for a word in due season. It seems you have a knack for doing this;)

  20. So glad you passed by here again! Such a great post. Enjoy all your times.

  21. Nessa- I was lost to the Wanderers Call at one time, too. Somehow, you always find your way back home for laundry and other services--until the doors close for business. Then, you just find your way back home. ;)

  22. Id- I'm always surprising myself by what can get me choked up. Seems such random things: a song, a picture, words... I think crying is a precondition to interminable search for meaning.

  23. Kid- Thanks. Glad to see you hear, again. ;)

  24. Leah- I'm beginning to sound like those elderly folks whose thoughts I swore I'd never repeat. But. Well, there's just no denying it any longer: I'm old and the older you get the faster it passes. It's the truth, dammit!

  25. Carol- Thank you. The pass-by was a bit exhausting. I'm going to have to work on conditioning! ;)

  26. The Passerby song is great! I'm listening now. Enjoyed this post with its openness & creativity. The thought of things passing can be a relief at times...

  27. Jade- "Relief at times"--yes, very true. Sometimes it's quite welcome. But often bittersweet. ;)

  28. Such a way with words. That picture of the Borders closing with the violinist playing in front of it -- so sad.

  29. Angela- I wanted to cry. Instead, I went in and bought a whole lot a books. ;)

  30. I'm slowing the world right now, to watch.

  31. Munk- Good for you! I'm watching for Irene--she'll be passing by, making a mess of New England, soon enough!

  32. Sensible words may be over-rated and who defines sensible anyway? We lower the hinged arms of our Victrolas to catch whatever scratchy messages we contain, played back at what we hope is the right speed. xo

  33. Oh Marylinn- I just love your poetic and always very sensible comments. ;)