The Eternal Life of Objects

Book of Tennyson poems on old wooden dresser

The connection between material objects and time fascinates me. Things can transcend time. They are more eternal than people, in one sense. For example, I recently found on our shelves a 1942 edition of the “Song and Service Book for Ship and Field: Army and Navy.” It’s still here, thousands of miles from the city where it was published, transcending who knows what dangers, surrounded perhaps by death on every side. Human death. And yet, it’s still here.

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Walking Down the Drive

Once upon a time, when I was little, I went outdoors on a summer afternoon. I walked down the long driveway, from the backdoor of our yellow house, past the garden and the swingset, toward the garage. As I walked, I heard my own voice inside my head, telling the story of what I was doing. I knew the story stretched back to my beginning, and that I was just noticing it, not beginning it. I knew the story was happening still, and that it would keep on happening, as long as I kept on telling it. Continue reading

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Blue ocean water showing a small wave

Three years ago, we said goodbye to the Navy. If someone were to ask, “What’s it like, being a military family?”, I’d say, “The most lasting of my memories is the way that good things and hard things were so completely welded to each other. Being proud, being lonely, laughing hysterically, crying inconsolably, loving a place and wanting to leave it, missing a time you wouldn’t want to live through again. It changed everything, sometimes at high cost. But I would do it again, in a heartbeat.”

-Photo by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

Memorial Day

Anchor recovered from the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

Anchor recovered from the USS Arizona at Pearl HarborIt’s about to be Memorial Day again. Remembering time. Truth is, what we have to remember is more than we can handle. People die, in a war, and that’s already too much to grasp. But there are other casualties. Hundreds of them, for every soldier, on both sides. These casualties seem small, and they sometimes fly past so quickly that there’s no time to name them. But the empty places left by these small deaths remain, and there will be years and years to feel the loss, after it’s too late to prevent it. Continue reading

Aunt Nadia’s House and “Sea Fever”

Memory works two ways for me. Sometimes, it’s linear. I remember a specific event and its context, and I’m sure both are plain facts. Sometimes, it’s associative. I remember things connectedly, and the power of association may overcome aspects of the original history.

This poem, “Sea Fever” by John Masefield, is strongly connected in my memory with my great Aunt Nadia’s house in Rockport, MA. The house was 300+ years old in parts, and a “witch” lived in the oldest room when it was a raw wooden cabin in the woods. I wonder about her. Continue reading

Question by the River

I have lived in several worlds in my life, and I don’t suffer homesickness in the ordinary way. But sometimes, in the middle of a song, in a cloud of flower scent, at a moment of child-like peace, a wave of grief will rise over me because I can no longer go back to any good thing I remember. When I reach the river that flows by the throne, that might be my question – why couldn’t I bring together all the fragments of pure beauty I have seen and felt? I hope that’s what awaits me on the other side of the river. All those lost moments, the bouquet that was too much for human hands to grasp.

-Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash