DEDICATED LINES, by Robert W. Greene.
It's summer 1980 and we're in London with our son Sean. We're visiting my brother Ed, who has an apartment in Kensington, near Holland Park. At this season of the year, twilight goes on forever in London.
After dinner one evening, Ed takes us on a stroll to Holland Park, to see the Scottish dancers. From June to August, it seems, young Scots working in London gather once a week in Holland Park to dance, just to dance.
Lassies in tams and tartans, laddies in kilts and Argyles, heed the pipers playing. With dirks sheathed on calves, spines straight as swords, arms arcing high, a clan in rainbow wool hops across the lawn in style, chasing the whine of the never pausing music. Peacocks, reckless as pigeons, whir among the trees, screech against the tunes washing over us.
Druids turned dervishes, the steppers fling and whirl to a beat, foretelling the splash of "Riverdance." Gaels rule the waves in London's gloaming. We thank God for Sean Connery, who taught the world how to sing our son's name.
WINGS OF THE MANOR
One aspect of the dream never varies: I am always indoors, so I don't see the place from outside. And Judith is there with me, apud me, somewhere behind my eyes. Family members and dear friends, who have obviously come for extended visits, sit scattered throughout its gleaming marble halls.
A sense of ease and well-being abounds, although not a single goblet, bowl or platter is in sight, and conversation is taking place without a word being uttered, but with every gesture balletic, stylized and eloquent. Yet we are not mannequins, far from it, since we smile at everyone we meet, and everyone smiles back, as we glide, as if on magic carpets, from one luminous, cathedral-sized chamber to another.
Sometimes a wall panel at the far end of a chamber we've entered swings open and long-lost relatives and acquaintances, apparently staying in other wings of the manor, step into our company, salute us warmly, then leave, drawing the portal shut behind them.
In feel, it most resembles the house we rented during our time in Berkeley, where Rachel was born, when every day we shot the glistening Bay and the Golden Gate from our tall, sky-filled front windows. What else could it possibly be but heaven?
for Gene and Margaret
Once upon a time I loved September,
low crunch of cones and curling leaves
inhaled on a whiff of too-ripe pears.
Deep-orange pumpkins lay scattered
in ditch-framed pale yellow fields
and apples shaded pink blossoms red
in lumps of maturation under trees
and skies stayed shrouded all day
in offwhite sheets of scudding mist.
Then one year, I can't remember which,
came June, June, June, with children
still in school and me wheeling free.
Buds and morning glories opened wide
and midsummer night took my breath,
a gift of arrestation from the gods,
a rest in the melody of bloom, a green
here and now I'd never sniffed before,
a holiday no sleepy hollow dreamed.
for Ricardo and Isabel
Bivouacked under the stars in Central Asia,
Borodin wakes up to sputtering campfires.
Shadowy Polovtsians chant around his bedroll.
Gone South to Gullah country with his librettist,
Gershwin meets the source of Porgy and Bess:
"Harmony in twelve parts, Heyward, twelve!"
Borodin and Gershwin listen closely, then
head for home, changed forever by their hearing.
After the habanera, heels pounding to
build an enchantment, and the seguidilla, Bizet
writes another gyro-number for the Gypsies.
His chanson bohème molds Carmen's passion,
throws her wild heart into a potter's vase.
So we spin, Spanish Roma, in a vortex of
crescendos, high above the turning tables.
Mozart by himself, or Verdi, hums
the news: music from beyond our ken sounds
the deepest well, heals the oldest wounds.
To Of(f)course home page To Index of this issue.