A couple weekends ago, I was feeling a particular delight in the wonderful late-spring weather, and on impulse sent a note to my retired nurse-friend:
Yesterday evening, first night of June, there was still enough blue in the sky at nine o'clock, that Maxfield Parrish would immediately have set up his canvas and begun capturing the sight and sense forever… especially for the cold months, and shriveled days. It was tinted something like this:
…and is part of what I was crowing about earlier: no bugs to speak of (excluding teeny ants and a few fat flies), no blazing heat; lovely sky with only puffs of happy cloud…
Given the choice of when I die, I'd select mid- to late April, with all the blooming trees, and the full return of light to days. Second choice, I would be the very beginning of June, I think now, with fingers crossed against the chance of too-much heat.
You know my big heart, sometimes helpless and hopeless, and always given to dream and trust even today, despite scarring and scoring, bruise and betrayal. It's alive and well!
The summer after Beej and I separated – 1986 – I was burned up and left for ash by a powerful, two-month relationship. Torie could have been a model, looking like then- Ally Sheedy on one of Ally's very-best days (less jut to chin, and much more permed, thick hair). We'd met each other at a dance in April, fell out of touch awhile, as she gave her failing marriage one last futile try.
We got back in touch – probably Torie with me – and on the last day of May, drove up from northwestern Virginia up into western Maryland, ditched another dance, and took a long, secluded walky-talky to see where we wanted to go on the inside. Midnight found us in a perfect movie scene: full moon above, thick moonshadow cast on us by the lush trees in that community park, and standing on a wooden bridge over a whispering creek. There in my arms, Torie's eyes widened at moon and shadow and stars and couldn't-ever-be-better ambience, and she gasped in wonder, "You planned this!" And I smiled, innocently sharing her wonder, and wished I could take credit for the moon, as I wrote years later, looking back.
And midnight made it the first of June, of course. The summer quickly became all ours (and our children's, yes), and ultimately – as I said – the flame between us roared into a mighty blaze that burned me up completely (and burned Torie out completely). Almost no ash was left when, two months later, I found my arms and life empty again, head spinning and heart sore and reeling.
I love June because sometimes it spurs the muse; the month that escorts us into summer, and paints storybook weddings… also gives great sweeps of life to fill the grandest canvas – be it with palette, once-blank paper, musical instrument of choice, wood and marble and chisel.
I was years healing from the near-bottomless intensity of dating lovely Torie. To this day (and there's absolutely no way it was thirty-one years ago), I can't say I regret a moment spent with her, though I see areas where a little fuel should have been withheld from the flame.
One of my avenues of catharsis – as you patiently know – is writing it out. And if it's the heart being cathartized and cauterized, then the finished canvas is filled with verse. If there were a market for modern poetry, I'm ready to publish at least three books of verse; one would be called Verses to a Ghost… I wrote many about her as I healed.
Ten years after our golden summer, in mid-September, as summer '96 was about to be rolled up and put away until after spring of '97, I took up pencil and once-blank book, and wrote:
Verse #37 to a Ghost: Endless Summer: When Time Stood Still
Each person, I’m sure, carries deep inside
– almost safe –
A heart and home of many doors;
behind the doors, their private rooms;
And in the corners and cupboards and closets
are special precious boxes
holding letters, pressed flowers, smiles, tears.
(Some hinges fuse, rust shut;
some, well-worn, slide smoothly;
some rooms bear no doors at all – )
We carry within us sweet moments or eras
frozen in time:
Ageless lovers, gentle hands, skillful dancers.
We bring along, inside, unforgotten places,
realms of rain and moon and sun and star.
We close our eyes (or open), and hear long-gone sounds
of music, whisper, ocean, thunder, embrace.
We never forget, nor leave long aside, each tender touch:
caress of skin, surge of love, leap of faith.
These are things that feed our souls,
that build our lives, and make us real;
These are our refuge, our comfort, our hope;
our beacon, our surcease, our dream.
These are all I have, sometimes, or can hold,
when the silence or solitude floods my valley;
Each memory and touch and realm and voice,
though frozen, is rich with warmth and life,
...and some are quite wealthy indeed.
Here, in these pages, this box, this corner, this room;
behind unknobbed door on well-spun hinges,
I still feel her lips and hear her laugh,
hold her close, feel her silken skin,
smell her perfume and move deep inside her
– Ever less, I know, ever fading, ever long ago;
oft forgotten, far, remote, yesterloved.
Even now those warm days and steaming nights
are near-unreal, clutching me no longer.
Yet I think there is a land of Summer:
At times I still can hear it
through closed doors, shuttered windows,
over forgotten paths and distant hills behind me,
I still can hear it,
whispering in cherished voices,
caressing with old yet freshened fingers,
singing clear notes of songs dim-recalled,
Walking yet behind me
almost touching me
...It was the endless Summer
For me the ’leventh Wonder
A Spell I’d fallen under
The Dream without a slumber
Did I mention that I like June?
Christ loved us and washed us clean of our sins by His blood, and made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father. — Revelation 1:5-6
Either one of my astute readers, when they wander back to this teeny blog at some point, might recognize the heart-parallel with another summer girlfriend, sweet-and-sassy Jane, 1979. And there are some others, of course; this human heart by reflex swims best in the deep end of the pool, and so my life and heart and summers have been blessed by a handful – an armful – of wondrous swim-companions.
PS: As always, unless I say otherwise, my writings – verse, meditations, maudlin meanderings, and so on – are mine. Feel free to read… but not to take; that's not nice. And I've got the originals, the drafts, the backstory… and the rights. I may someday publish; who knows?
Please pardon my disclaimer though… and enjoy your June. See you in the pool!