Afterthought 278—A Perfect Circle and a Stone

Posted in sestet by maggie on 2015/07/14

Hey, I bet you know someone who would know
someone who knew someone who's now a friend
of mine.  Try this, if you've not yet done
so.  Make a new friend aged eighty or so.
Get her talking memories, then ask for one
of Christmas.  Do perfect circles ever end?

See, there's an elderly gentleman with whom
I often meet mornings, coffee in the park,
me pushing my youngest's carriage, him his
walker to a bench where crapemyrtles bloom.
This coming Monday, he told me today, is
his birthday, proud of the one he'll mark.

We'd not shared our ages. Now he asked mine
and chuckled as I figured it out in my head.
Numbers were never something I memorized.
We got talking memory.  His is quite fine,
which leads to something I'd not realized:
my old companion is Canadian born and bred.

"Ontario," I chirped, hazarding a guess.
He nodded.  "Toronto?"  Yes, an hour west.
"Kitchener." North of that, still unsure 
how I could know, but grinned a broad yes
when I named his hometown: "Elmira. You're
from good country, home to the very best."

His grandfather'd been one of Elmira's key
citizens, did watch repair on Arthur Street.
Each Christmas had a grand window display
that children'd come from all afar to see.
His grandfather's home still stands today
near where South and Arthur streets meet.

"The bandstand," I reminisced. He smiled,
claimed that's where its boards came from...
don't shoot me if he's bending the truth.
We both found it all so incredibly wild
how streets he'd known well in his youth
would so familiar to me since have become.

My friend's eyes took on a joyful moist.
How had I come to make his town my own,
he inquired.  "It's not supposed to be,"
was all I'd say. Yet what can't be voiced,
eyes that've lived there still can see.
"Here," I told him, handing him my stone.

My stone, the one I carry wherever I go.
My stone, the one I hold up to any sky.
My stone, the one I tell my secrets to.
He holds the stone reverently, as though
it carries him to the home he once knew
like yesterday. Do perfect circles die?

As my rock touched his hand, so his breath
reached ground he'd come from — the stream
nearby, the trees and other plants, birds,
other animals, people.  Before my own death
I'll reach his age remembering his words
returning home to Elmira as if in a dream.

The basement in my friend's grandfather's place,
should I reveal mystical mysteries it held?
Or boast that Santa scene on its bicycle wheel?
Are perfect circles pointless?  Not the case
here — he knew by my stone's familiar feel
in his fingers how love's magic flies compelled.

Not supposed to be? he repeated my words
in a gentle whisper, handing back my stone.
Then he hugged me holding my child as I cried
in my solitude. When the crapemyrtles birds
warned a coming storm, only then he replied —
Can a perfect circle ever get left alone?


30 Responses

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  1. maggie said, on 2015/07/15 at 08:35

    Today he returns to our park rendezvous
    with a handful of personal photographs
    from a 2012 visit — the Lutheran church
    his family attended; posed under the new
    trellis at his birthplace; a silver birch
    surviving as long as remembered laughs.

    We’ve talked health – diabetes, seizure . . .
    I understand things others cannot hear,
    he tells me. Sadly I nod, “Thank you, sir.”
    I’m to return the snapshots at my leisure,
    he says. Perfect circles are as they were
    and as they will be. Like home: always near.

    This Saturday I’m to join him and his wife
    for dinner at their home, me with Dean
    and our children. Supposed to be, he calls
    this whole encounter, crossing his life
    with mine – how bright what he recalls!
    “Supposed to be,” I echo words that mean.

    • maggie said, on 2015/07/15 at 19:24

      Great grandfather, he says. I’ll not change —
      my poem’s not false for being imprecise,
      with no designs to harm nor to malign.
      Great grandson or grandson, it’s still strange
      how streets he hasn’t known since he was nine
      would come back to him through his new friend’s eyes.

      • clarioretenebris said, on 2015/07/16 at 06:24

        A debt’s still an unpaid debt . . .
        once rejected, ever exiled, ever scorned.
        Careful, friend. Don’t forget
        what we were threatened and explicitly warned.

        • maggie said, on 2015/08/30 at 08:44

          Don’t worry. The threat and risk you speak of
          has already left me beautifully battle-scarred.
          As for my elderly friend, he’s seen enough
          in his time to know to not let down his guard.
          And I and mine won’t go back home until
          the ghosts who wanted left alone lie still.

  2. maggie said, on 2015/09/01 at 08:30

    He’s scheduled for a colonoscopy
    so we’ll skip this morning’s usual date.
    The procedure’s, he assures me, mere routine,
    though what concerns his doctor worries me
    and his wife, how if results are clean
    we’ll still not know why he’s been losing weight.

  3. davidelicet said, on 2015/09/05 at 16:03

    At this, even in comment, I have not the skill
    of Sara or of you or of your other friends. Still,
    with Cyndi permit me most strongly to concur.

    Sara had those same threats made at her.
    And like her, what with all you have at stake,
    be careful about the risks that here you take.

    • maggie said, on 2015/09/06 at 04:54

      Oh, I’m well aware
      we’re unwanted there. Even now.
      He’s still in control
      so neither friend nor sister he’ll allow,
      remaining on guard lest
      we make our nest where we belong,
      since he fears our love
      would prove him to’ve been dead wrong.

      Yet no threat can keep
      me forever from sleep in my bed.
      So, risk? I fear none,
      whatever ill is done or said.

  4. maggie said, on 2015/09/16 at 10:16

    Before they moved, his father used to teach
    classes in Elmira’s German Lutheran school,
    from whom he learned his ancient Hebrew, Greek
    and Latin, wanting then to grow up to preach…
    which in his own way he does, so to speak.
    His circles spread like ripples in the pool.

    • maggie said, on 2015/10/11 at 05:29

      Ah, he thinks me a separated Mennonite
      who can’t go home for something in my past
      perhaps connected with Cyn and Denise.
      I hug him, let him think he’s right.
      “Rest,” he reassures me, “Be at peace —
      what you will, none other can miscast.”

      Peace… Miscast… His words hit pause
      as if recalling where we’d crossed before
      in opposite directions. As his went,
      mine had come. Here we find cause,
      here we find our purpose and intent
      in whom we choose and do it all for.

      Does it matter who it’s thought I am?
      Can I find peace in someone else’s truth?
      There’re reasons I’m found active here
      while absent Facebook, Path and Instagram.
      A Mennonite? Who knows, perhaps his mirror
      recognizes me in reflections of his youth.

  5. maggie said, on 2015/10/05 at 21:43

    Some poison ivy, he told me, must be cleared
    from behind his shed and along the back fence.
    It hits him rather bad. In his childhood, smoke
    from a fire in a field with the vine badly seared
    his throat. His old eyes softened as he spoke
    of solitary pains from scars still open thence.

    Me it’s never bothered much. I’ve walked trails
    near his old home, brushing the noxious weed
    quite frequently, suffering no reaction adverse.
    Even so, we share a knowing hug. It never fails
    to touch me, how close we are. Nothing’s worse
    than confusing incidental itch with lasting need.

  6. maggie said, on 2015/10/14 at 07:38

    After his family moved to the States,
    Paul flew a chopper in one of our wars,
    it earned him a medal getting shot down.
    The circle honors him who waits—
    a vintage chopper like his hits town
    this week, and Dean has friends, of course…

    • poetalias said, on 2016/08/28 at 09:54

      That was a great surprise, that air show.
      Thank Dean and his friends, for Paul and for all of us.
      Paul has paid it forward for Earl. Just so you know,
      nothing in your circle will ever again be the way it was.

  7. maggie said, on 2015/10/28 at 07:57

    This week he goes in to get himself a new knee.
    He points to mine, says I should listen to Dean
    and do the same. Another neat circle we share,
    a circle not meant to be run around viciously.
    We connect through words of kindness and care
    that’ll last as long as stone, as was foreseen.

    • maggie said, on 2015/11/17 at 14:56

      Already he’s back out and walking well
      with stories of how far he walked when young
      to Waterloo, to Cambridge and to Guelph
      on roads I too have stories I can tell.
      He’s right. I need a new knee for myself…
      Perhaps that’s why this circle’s song’s been sung.

  8. maggie said, on 2015/11/23 at 14:35

    Three seizures this morning — two
    at home, then another in the ambulance.
    His wife will be keeping me up to date,
    having known how this’d be bad deja vu
    for me, to have a close friend meet fate
    via this particular encounter with chance.

    • quasimondaine said, on 2015/11/23 at 20:22

      Peace. He has friends to keep guard
      and to help him return.
      This is not yet his moment to say farewell.
      Yes, today was hard
      and yes, he very nearly fell.
      But from him both your children still have things to learn.

      • maggie said, on 2015/11/24 at 09:44

        And then in the hospital several more
        seizures… But you’re right, he’s through
        them all better than his doctors feared.
        Do you know, then, what he has in store
        for my two going where I’d once appeared
        and if what I’d dreamed is what they will do?

        • quasimondaine said, on 2015/11/24 at 17:23

          Look to the visions Adrien set in paint
          of Sara’s last poems done without word,
          overlaid with Paul’s wisdom and skill,
          then you’ll see it fully with no constraint.
          Exercise your belief to do as you will
          and your children’s voices will be heard.

          • maggie said, on 2015/11/25 at 06:27

            He’s drawn a seventeen hundred dollar check
            for which he feels indebted. I’m to remit
            funds to Sara’s son, for whom the check’s endorsed
            to sponsor him, enabling him to make the trek
            his mother could not when exile was reinforced.
            This check’s dated the day before these seizures hit.

            • maggie said, on 2015/11/26 at 06:57

              His recovery from his is quicker than Sara’s was,
              hit by more seizures but not having gone as deep
              as she went, so he’s home for Thanksgiving Day
              with family and friends, extra special because
              of seeing him and my children back at their play.
              The friend he’s been to them’s too precious not to keep.

  9. maggie said, on 2015/12/01 at 11:35

    More than just a circle — look, a sphere
    (and dimensions more, Adrien’d observe)!
    Alicia came to visit us Thanksgiving Day
    and connected well with Paul while here.
    My own circles are tiny ones, is all I’ll say
    for now. Hers hold a never-ending curve.

  10. maggie said, on 2016/04/03 at 15:27

    The snow held off just long enough
    to be no problem for us yesterday.
    From riding those shuttles to the event
    to taffy that tasted like honest love —
    what this time made it time well spent
    was new friends with whom to stay!

    • clarioretenebris said, on 2016/04/04 at 05:08

      Great spring trip! Nothing to lose,
      such joyous long-living memories to gain!
      Not only for your children’s smiles
      but for sweet protection of your brain!

    • clarioretenebris said, on 2016/05/12 at 11:13

      Here, this’ll make you laugh.
      The son of a town patriarch
      posted Facebook of the fun
      at the festival. A photograph
      there has you with your son
      in the crowd near Gore Park.

      • maggie said, on 2016/05/22 at 14:37

        That is me with him, yes,
        but in case anyone asks,
        say no, that you guess
        it was us wearing masks.

        • clarioretenebris said, on 2016/05/22 at 16:21

          Yeah, except masks that look like him and like her
          would appear not near so happy as you two were.

  11. maggie said, on 2016/04/22 at 12:05

    My eldest’s godfather joined Paul for lunch
    today. This marked the first the two have met.
    What circles now, I wondered, might emerge?
    —since, given our connections, I’d a hunch
    their paths must cross, so I’d no need to urge
    their friendship on—so perfect a duet!

    A breakthrough! So profound a healing touch!
    Miraculous! Paul’s done my eldest proud
    by plunging back into his own dark past
    to break a lingering evil spell. So much
    we owe him! More than three years on, at last
    her godfather has said her name out loud!

  12. maggie said, on 2016/09/07 at 19:24

    Close call, dear friend!—
    half the night surviving ER.
    Reminds me of someone we both know
    who very nearly came to his end
    on word he was free to go.
    Paix, au revoir.

    A living circle kept his stay,
    for another he carried the stone.
    You now too are part
    of us. Share our love today
    with renewed heart,
    your word never from us gone.

  13. maggie said, on 2016/12/13 at 13:22

    He refuses to continue physical therapy
    and has ceased eating. He’s ready to go.
    He’s been laughing with childhood friends
    playing in hometown streets he can see
    within reach. Perfect circles have no ends.
    He wants to take his closing steps in snow.

    His doctors doubt he’ll survive the trip.
    He smiles. He asks to hold my stone
    until we get there. His wife dries a tear
    in consent. I taste blood on my own lip.
    By Christmas she and I will be back here,
    his circles still living, dancing in our own.

    • maggie said, on 2016/12/17 at 18:49

      His doctors, his wife with we and he’ve talked—
      he got his hospital release plus a DNR.
      Aunt Cyn will keep our children for a week
      as Dean and I return him to streets he walked
      his childhood years. How delightfully unique
      a path from where we’ll be to who we are!

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