11,041 vagabonds plus:
little church in the vale
I have found our place. All ours. There’s a single trail near Old Post Road, right amongst where the fragrant pine needles thickly cover the gravel road that lazily winds upwards along the North slope, off the beaten trail not taken, appropriate here on Frost’s birthday. I stepped carefully over polished rocks in a silent creek, losing my balance once, my left foot dipping ankle deep in cold water and my backpack splashing before me. Everything was soaked - all my poems. That is why I’m writing this letter on napkins here at a little café called The Magpie Junction Diner, under the churlish eyes of a waitress in a dirty apron. It’s really a charming place though, lovely blue and white checkered oil cloth covered round tables, and the coffee ain’t bad. The French Toast came hot enough to melt butter. Across the quiet street is The Black Buggy General Store. I’ll check there for thick dry socks soon. And to mail all these napkins. I imagine the envelope will look like a small pillow to you. You can pluck the feathers but keep them away from moisture.
Emerging on a plateau beyond the creek just past the North slope the road fell sharply, an old faint sign bolt upright says Graveyard Road, surrounded on both sides by yellow flowers.(I’ve asked for more napkins. She looks less like an angry schoolmarm, maybe I’ve won her over - she's reading napkin number 4 and making corrections). You’ll see when you come, Darling, I have no idea what type of flower. That is, if you can manage crossing the creek without being swept away. In the cold sunshine, beyond a clearing of pines, was the remains of an old church, roof caved in, mildewed planks, splintered floors, low stone wall lined driveway intact. The light coming in from above seemed to carry a voice of many past voices from 100 years of prayers. One weeping willow stands in majestic solitude among the pines. It can easily be saved when I rebuild. When WE rebuild, yes. From a distance the willow looks like fireworks falling from the sky, and I can imagine frosted in the dead of winter it would resemble a frozen fountain bubbling over. But somehow, Darling, with you here I know Winter will never arrive.
p.s. pack a hammer and hiking boots.
quote for bookworms
There is no friend as loyal as a book.
doomed radio show, 1948
[commercial ends for the Big Sucking Vacuum Cleaner,
WKVJ Announcer:] 'Now! Back to you, Carl!'[theme show music swells]
'Let’s welcome now please ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Irving J. Heddenmeyer, from Willow Falls, Wisconsin!'
[canned over-zealous applause]
'Well, Irving, tell the good folks a little about yourself.'
[voice shaky] 'I’m from..'
'Please step closer to the silver microphone, Mr. Heddenmeyer.'
[proudly]'I am sole proprietor of the Steel and Wire Hardware Company in Willow…'
'Fascinating. And what hardware item is most requested, Mr. Heddenmeyer?'
[over confidence seeping in] 'Ummm. That’s a tough one, Carl. I would say it’s between bananas and electrogalvanized five penny nails, Carl.'
'That’s fine just fine, Irving. You’ve chosen as your category Talking Vagabond Birds. Why is that, Irving?'
'My wife Beatrice’s mother used to have this cat and..'
'Very good, I too had a mother-in-law once, Mr Heddenmeyer, here is your Big Question. And remember, if you answer correctly, you win a Big Sucking vacuum cleaner, or a covered butter dish. Ready?'
[singing, off-balanced Bing Crosby] 'Why yes I aaammmm, Carl.'
'Your question:' [drum roll]'What kind of birds are Heckle and Jeckle?'
[bouncy music plays and clock ticks for two minutes] 'We need an answer, Irving.' [music and clock for seven minutes more] 'Irving!' [unintelligible voice, like someone talking into an empty mayonnaise jar. Jarring sounds, dissonant, unidentifiable. Theme music speeds up, obviously a recording, stops. Sound of glass smashing. Dead air. People all over the country drop their newspapers, lean across, knocking over table lamps, turning up the volume knob of their worn Crosley Radios. Two days later, Irving found bound and gagged, slumped over dead in Queens. Carl never seen or heard from again. Police discover WKVJ ransacked, cordon off from curious neck stretchers. One year later sketchy radio homicide incident manifest mysteriously swiped from J Edgar Hoover’s desk.]
Did I ever tell you where I picked that up? By all means,
have a seat. I have coffee on, you must stay, my friend. No, not there, the dog is shedding and you’d end up with mohair pants. Bring it over here by the fire. Yes, it’s a hand. A woman named Willow gave it to me. Yes, first name. No, I believe I’d never heard that name for a woman either. And the only woman I’d ever met with orange eyes. At least I think so, the sky was blanketed near sunset and she stood before me with the Sun at my back, orange light coming from the end of the world reflecting in her eyes. The cottage down the pasture lane, I know you’ve been by there. The black heavy gate with the embedded cast iron magpie. Yes, that’s her.
I’d dropped off a bundle of books. Saw her there. We talked and then we said goodbye. That hand came gift wrapped the next morning at the back door. We talked outside the After Hours Bookstore. Orange eyes. It was cold, I had on a hat with ear flaps. She called me Elmer Fudd. She uses a typewriter and enjoys. Enjoys writing. Oh yes, that’s important. Old fashioned she said, but I told her no, I use pencil by hand. That’s older. But what I really wanted to do, I said, was use spray cans on the side of a barn. She smiled I remember. Do you want coffee? No? You’ll stay for dinner? I’m preparing a small dinner soon. Small like the old automats from the city. Remember those small platters? They were so good even though the company was so bad. Lovely steamed windows, men in hats, women with pearls, but you never knew who’d you be sitting next to.
Pencil gives a chance to better a draft I said. Work it over. Refining. Conveying every sensation. Like you’re standing in someone else’s shoes. Like Atticus Finch tells Scout. I should say Harper Lee tells Atticus to Scout. Oh, how I write in margins. By hand.
March came in...
...like a cat on a windowsill staring at a fly. Kinda dull.
How abouts where you live?
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