Thursday, September 18, 2014

City Lights - Mary Avidano

My father, rather a quiet man,
told a story only the one time,
if even then - he had so little
need, it seemed, of being understood.
Intervals of years, his silences!
Late in his life he recalled for us
that when he was sixteen, hí papa
entrusted to him a wagonload
of hogs, which he was to deliver
to the train depot, a half-day's ride
from home, over a hilly dirt road.
Lightly he held the reins, light his heart,
the old horses, as ever, willing.
In town at noon he heard the station-
master say the train had been delayed,
would not arrive until that evening.
The boy could only wait. At home they'd
wait for him and worry and would place
the kerosene lamp in the window.
Thus the day had turned to dusk before
he turned about the empty wagon,
took his weary horses through the cloud
of fireflies that was the little town.
In all his years he'd never seen those
lights - he thought of this, he said, until
he and his milk-white horses came down
the last moonlit hill to home, drawn á
from a distance toward a single flame.

This lovely poem by Mary Avidano is about cherished memories, and the story we hear about her father's past is one of hers.  We know from the intro that he was a soft-spoken man, content in his silence, so when he shares a special memory from his boyhood days, when he was entrusted with a job by his father.

The entire poem has a pleasant dreamlike quality, and its significance lies not in any message, but in the remembering itself.  Who can read this poem without thinking of some old family story, which you've cherished in your mind as lovingly as a musuem curator cares for some ancient exhibit?

That besides, the images are clear and beautiful, and my explanations could only serve to make them non-magical.

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