Sunday, November 09, 2014

`If Only Recollection Could Cohere!'

“Our past already had such distances!
Already in that fragrance we could sense
the end of childhood, where remembrance stands.”

Children, too, grow nostalgic. My middle son is home for a few days from boarding school in Canada. With his younger brother we visited a bookstore we first visited ten years ago, not long after moving to Houston from upstate New York. Then they were three and not yet two years old. It’s the store where I bought Michael his first chess set. Now he organizes tournaments at his school. Here I bought them boxes of comic books, Mad magazines, Dickens, Tolkien and Harry Potter. We reminisced about faded enthusiasms and a few that held on. Michael on Saturday wanted a posthumous Vonnegut and David wanted Philip K. Dick’s Ubik. Not my taste by a long shot but not much different from what I was reading at their age. The lines above are from “Rain in Childhood” (For a Modest God, 1997) by Eric Ormsby, a poet who, like Donald Justice, earns the right in his poems to grow nostalgic without collapsing into the maudlin and self-indulgent. It’s not easy. In “Remembrance” (Coastlines, 1992) Ormsby writes: 

“If only recollection could cohere! If only
Memory were cogent once again!”

1 comment:

Subbuteo said...

Love "a pandemonium of blank white wings"