Tag Archives: memory

Rain and a hundred connections.

It’s still raining here, but it’s not hailing, and the air is warmer. So it’s a day when I can imagine spending time in the elements with someone you love, and this poem I’ve been wanting to share finally fits the mood of the season, and the current weather. On our honeymoon in the Santa Cruz mountains of California, my beloved and I walked in rain under redwood trees, and it wasn’t the last time. Here’s to all the rainy days when we’ve been in love with somebody and with life.


Remember that day in the rain
at the park where we used to meet,

how we took and we gave,
and what couldn’t be spoken

was nevertheless contained
in what we were able to say,

well, it’s raining again
and it’s the body, I realize,

that stores memory
and sends it, when keyed,

to those long unvisited
regions of the brain – remember

that steady collision
of rain and branch and leaf,

a hundred connections
happening at once,

long before I said I do.
I was saying I will and Let’s.

-Stephen Dunn

Saving the mystery women.

Last year I spent quite a few hours sorting through photos of several generations of ancestors, my late husband’s family and mine, plus those of our own immediate family, children and grandchildren. I barely made a dent in the collections!

My husband’s family seems to have taken more photographs of their relations, and saved many more than people on my side have done. And while my siblings keep and store some of our relatives’ pictures, I am the sole curator of those that were passed to us from my in-laws and their in-laws, and so forth.

It wasn’t too hard to find at least a thousand pictures that could be put in the trash. It pains me to say that, because an image of a human made in the image of God feels like it retains something of the holiness of that connection, and it doesn’t seem right to be disrespectful of it. That shows that I come from a generation before digital images. I discard those with abandon.

Many that I tossed, however, were of such poor quality that I couldn’t see the faces, and quite a few were superfluous, because of there being much better or identical pictures of those people in existence. I have many more to purge, hopefully this year, but I have sifted through the oldest ones.

Among the boxes of pictures coming from my husband’s family, the third category that I needed to discard was this: Women who were unidentified, and did not match any pictures of known relations. Yes, there were also some mystery men, but they did not impress me in any way. Most didn’t look composed, or handsome. I felt differently about the women, I suppose because I am a woman.

Were they distant cousins? College friends? Maiden aunts? No one in my family knew them, no one cares about them. They all sleep in death. But — I did care about them. A hundred years ago they meant something to someone in our family, and since it is so easy to save digital images, I laid their paper pictures out on the carpet and took group photos.

I hope that each of them is known by name by someone somewhere, friends or descendants who have copies of these photos that that they won’t throw in the trash for a while yet. My curiosity about them is curious, these who represent thousands and billions who no longer walk the earth, most of whom never had their picture taken. But even if they are all forgotten by us living humans, God does know about them. And I, briefly, knew them ever so slightly….

You who have stood at the bedposts.

We have a new baby in my parish, over whom we are rejoicing, though we haven’t met him yet; he has a few weeks to go before being brought to church on the traditional 40th day after birth. It’s a good time to post this poem that I only recently discovered. 

Every baby coming into the world is a unique event, and my own feelings about births I’ve been present for have also been various. The group of people who have been appointed, as it were, to participate, each in her own way, bring all their personalities and prayers, and God is always present. 

I’m sure that many of my readers also retain impressions and images from standing by the bedposts (or lying in the bed), during or just after childbirth. None of the photos I might put here (the one above is from the internet) are much good by comparison with the golden moments that remain our personal possessions, even if with time they lose their crispness in the mind.

“Nothing else was ever so important.”


Being born is important.
You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.

You who have seen the new wet child
dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready —

You who have seen this love’s payday
of wild toil and sweet agonizing —

You know being born is important.
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood —
It must be older than the moon, older than salt.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Here’s a little something about Carl Sandburg’s own children.

One thing does not exist.


One thing does not exist: Oblivion.
God saves the metal and he saves the dross.
And his prophetic memory guards from loss
The moons to come, and those of evenings gone.
Everything in the shadows in the glass
Which, in between the day’s two twilights, you
Have scattered by the thousands, or shall strew
Henceforward in the mirrors that you pass.
And everything is part of that diverse
Crystalline memory, the universe;
Whoever through its endless mazes wanders
Hears door on door click shut behind his stride,
And only from the sunset’s farther side
Shall view at last the Archetypes and the Splendors.

-Jorge Luis Borges
translated by Richard Wilbur