Monday, February 27, 2012
Quite some time ago Spouse and I dined at the house of a friend. The friend had invited along another companion, an ancient lady we'd not met before.
The entire evening brimmed with delicious food and curious threads of conversation.
The lady reflected as the talk turned to reading and childhood. She'd read Beatrix Potter as a youngster.
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny: that was her favourite, and she'd possessed a copy when she was little, a treasured volume.
She sighed, perhaps to nobody in particular, that she didn't really know anymore what had become of the book. It was so long ago; but she clung to the thought and the wonder of it.
Still I can bring to mind the name of the old lady's most beloved book;
that she'd lost it at one of the many tangled turns along the way in her life;
and with what a wistful air she told it to us at the dinner table.
But I cannot- try as I might- I cannot remember her name.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:42 PM
Monday, February 13, 2012
There we were at the airport in Dublin, Spouse and I, ready to depart Ireland again. Mater and Sibling K had accompanied us to the last point, and the minute of farewell had descended upon us all.
One of us exclaimed in a flurry, "look! Isn't that himself over there?"
We all turned our heads as one, and sure enough, it was himself.
Seamus Heaney: Ireland's distinguished premier poet, Nobel Prize Winner and, of most particular and immediate consequence to me, the author of not one but two books in my backpack on my back right there and then.
Spouse, Mater and Sibling K urged me forward, not merely because they know I read a great deal of poetry, but on account of the fortuitous, possibly star-aligned fact that Mr. Heaney's work was my chosen reading material for the journey home.
"I can't," I said, stalling. "I could never do it. Not I."
"Go on," they all said, mentally pushing and pulling and dragging me along- for my own good, you understand.
"Ah, no, what would I say to him anyway? 'Hello, it's me, I've got a couple of your books here. You can borrow one if you'd like.'"
They couldn't find much wrong with that at all, and begged me to go over, to wander five feet due north and greet the man himself.
The right words would come, they said, all I had to do was try.
I was nearly dizzy with the possibilities.
What if he looks through me like a pane of glass?
What if he doesn't care that I'm reading his books?
What if I forget my name?
What IS my name?
What if Mr. Heaney turned and strode away as I was dithering? What if, by the time I'd gathered my wits and determined to speak up, there was only a vacant space where he'd been standing? What if, in the end, the only story I'd emerge with was half a story about something that might have happened but didn't, really? Is half better than nothing?
I'll say this much: if I ever by chance see Seamus Heaney again, and if I then happen by more chance to have two of his books on my person, I'll be sure to ask him.
He might feel compelled to write an epic about it.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 3:23 PM