Suzanne Townsend
Once upon a time, Bill and I lived together in San Francisco. It was a busy time. Between our dharma and livelihood and social activities, driving around the city, cooking dinner with Steve (Lowell) and Donn (Tatum), we’d have long, rambling conversations about all kinds of things. One evening I asked him what was his first memory, and he said, Being in a doorway, seeing my mother with her back to the door, bent over her sewing table. We talked about life in moments, a string of first moments. Later, as he was leafing through his textbooks on certified public accounting, I thought about the year and all the steps leading up to being there together, and wrote this poem for him. I never gave it to him; later we split up, drifted apart. The poem followed me around for many decades. Last year I finally sent it to him. He asked if he could publish it -- but with just a few little edits? Sure I said, so he did, and sent the final to me. That was about the last time we really talked. We both got busy with other things and he did not get around to updating his site. So here it is, a little bit for Bill in the beginning, a little bit from Bill in the end. I know he would approve of the punctuation because he edited it that way. May he now be drawn to a safer shore by those very energies that he explored so courageously. Did I Miss the Dralas? Mostly, but Well — there were some things. The attic, the bound letters, the laces the maple tree in the clearing, the sunlight on the Charles, the smell of the various blossoms. The times of night, the diner, the grease, the parking lot at Girl Scout Point, the drives down the river road The solid sticky front door, the glow of the television, the solid quiet house, the bacon at six a.m., the faces of my parents — the feel of waking up. The cold house, the frozen laundry in the snow, that room, the bullet breaking the bottle, the bounce of the truck The slummy, half-built house near the waterfall, Rinpoche's book on the floor, the hours, the station wage and the deserted main roads my sister Heather, my brother Rob New York City side roads, my brother turning in, saying, well, you only die once The bottom of a riverbed, green clay, a swarm of hornets under the deck Niagara Falls, the Kansas highway at night, a waitress's smile; the familiar porch again, the rice wine, a tiny sweet apple the grasshoppers on the irises, the white porch furniture, the Wall Street Journal, hot from the sun; Standing in nylons in a cold, cold viaduct at night, looking for a lost pair of glasses Lying under yellow aspens in the clear fall clear blue sky the garbage truck at 5 a.m., the dope in the kitchen drawer, Rinpoche's flossing gear in the tiled bathroom the dirt road in Jackson that was just like Gustavus, that was just like that certain street in Boulder that I'd cross in the morning years before The walk to the assembly hall, the moon on the mountain; cleaning the ink off the brush. You know, some day we'll remember all this just like this on a cool, steel-blue day: the candlelight and television the feel of the car, the brakes, the traffic in San Francisco; the dining room table's squeak, the textbooks, turning a page and your mother bent over her sewing as you watched through a partly opened door.
Previous article Theresa Luttenegger
Next article Dennis Morbin
Alan K. Anderson spent 20 years as a veteran educator in the Milwaukee public school system. For the past 4 years, Alan has been teaching and mentoring through Reset Mind/Body, Arts@Large, and Growing Minds, teaching mindfulness and focusing skills to our children. He is also the originator of A.MAP—Arts and Mindfulness for Academic Progress, and has led professional development seminars in education and business.