Sunday, January 06, 2008

Esther - the first engagement

This afternoon we had tea with Esther, poet, painter and sculpter. 84. Is in love with being in love but her closest love has passed away.

The Lamp, Held High

Early every morning, an old woman puts
Her leftovers in a garbage can,
Because she has seen delving there
A hungry homeless man.
In that street can, at breakfast time,
He finds tasty, home-cooked food,
As when the neighbor holds the lamp
To lighten up his load.


Because her old one broke, an old woman
Bought a graceful new television.
The stand she had wasn't wide enough,
And, after investigation,
The stand she chose weighed fifty six pounds.
How did she bring it home?
As when a young man held the lamp
To lighten up her load.


Graggle, Gloggle. Midnight song.
Full sixty minutes. I long to sleep.
Is my young and elegant neighbor
So very dirty? I could weep.
We talked. "Is eleven o'clock at night
And bathing for ten minutes good?"
As when the neighbor holds the lamp
To lighten up my load.

Esther Lazarson
December 17, 2007

Inspired by Emily Dickinson from poem 419:

We grow Accustomed to the dark--
When light is put away--
As when the neighbor holds the lamp
To witness her goodbye--

Shortly before 17-Dec, Meghann and I were riding the free bus back from Ikea. The bus was packed above with consumers who had perused the Swedish selection and selected their wares, packed below with the wares. Packed. The ride is from Jersey to the center of Manhattan and people were standing in the aisle.

We had one bag of wood panels stored below. Esther, whom we did not know and did not notice, had a TV stand stored in the neighboring luggage compartment. "Excuse me young man, can you help me with my box?"

It took a second to realize she was talking to me because, when I'm in a crowd, I feel like I don't exist in any substantial way. I'm one drop of water in a stream, an indistinguishable part. Anyways, the luggage compartments and about two feet tall and seven feet deep. I did a monkey crawl to the back of the hole and pulled out her box. It felt good to assume a position other than the big three (standing, sitting, laying). We exchanged phone numbers and that's how we met Esther.

She called a couple weeks later and said that she had written a poem. She read it over the phone. It takes time for me to process a conversation which is part of the reason I do well with the written word and the simple childlike games but so poorly sometimes with more serious conversation. Anyways, I didn't understand all of the poem but she sent us a paper copy.

I was blown away. Most public acts of politeness live short lives and bear no young but my box retrieval bore a spoken poem. Esther immediately became an inspiration for me. She recognizes good deeds with heart. And she takes the time to convert her heart into craft. I learned tonight that she paints and sculpts as well.

It's because of her that I've been posting here. I've always wanted to express myself but never had the discipline to learn how. I painted one painting and found great worth in it, despite its modesty. I sculpted one sculpture and that was good too. And I've written some but never written enough to like what I write.

So I post here with the hope that, one day, words and plots and characters will flow naturally. One day, there will be no barrier between my thoughts and my words.

I pledged to Esther that I would bring her a poem at our next meeting. I'm not a poet. I can't rhyme or meter myself and I'm too short-sighted to consider an unmetered poem that doesn't rhyme anything more than prose with a healthy mix of pretension. But I would love to match the earnestness of Esther's poems with and earnest poem of my own.

I'll probably post a draft of two.

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