Monday, August 1, 2011


     My first substantial collection of poems was UNCLE GEORGE:Poems of a Maine boyhood. It was well received and I had enjoyed producing it, both the poems and the wood cuts that illustrated the poems. When my cousin told me he would give me the collection of diaries kept my George's wife, Anne, my mother's sister,  I was elated: here was a possible source for another collection. They did inspire poems but I think you can see as you read them why they did not inspire a collection. As the first poem tells you, the diary began a year and a month before my birth.

          Aunt Anne Begins Her Diary
Jan. 1, 1925: decided today to keep a diary.
So there will be a record
good or bad of this passing life.
Will I have anything to say?
It may be enough if it
makes me remember, tomorrow,
the trivia of today.
Can I call what I do “something”?
Writing may be more important
than what I write about.
A list of unpleasant things —
   Work on Saturday
   Sewing tickets at the laundry
   Cold weather
   Mr. Kardish

The order of the poems is, as well as I can remember, in the order of composition. They were sometiems years apart which accounts for the repetition.

              The Diary
The twenty years fit easily
each in one slim booklet. 
Aunt Anne gave equal weight
to each item with hardly any 
lines to read between.
George and Bobby caught a fish.
Bought dress material at Porteus.
Lizzy writes from Florida.
George died today.
No notice of Uncle George’s death
beyond these words as terse
as brittle as rose petals pressed
between the pages.
George died today.
Perhaps that was 
all there was to say.

         Aunt Anne’s Diaries
Seventeen slim volumes
as spare as winter trees.
Warm for this time of year.
Lizzy wrote from Florida.
Weather. Names only
of neighbors who called.
Bought material from Porteous.
George’s new teeth don’t fit.
Shopping lists. Threads
of a life worn thin.
We let the furnace go out today (May 15).
George and Bobby caught a fish.
The blank remainders of each page filled
with wash worn silences hung out to dry.
Tue. August 14. Lizzy died
half past twelve today.
The record ends. A life so nearly spent
no surprise remains.
Went to ride with Bill in AM.
Watched old yr out and new yr in.
Tomorrow will be no surprise
even if the sun won’t rise.

Aunt Anne had come
to live with mother
for the summer. The operation
had been delayed
too long.
I read the short flat
line-a-day entries
in Aunt Anne’s diary.
Very hot.
Delano and Olive visit.
Lizzy had a bad day.
How well these almost blank 
revealing pages
echo the snow-bleached fields
outside my window. (I’d been
many miles away.)
How well they echo
long empty afternoons,
those hot breathless
August nights
they waited through.
Lizzy died: 2PM today.
I was miles away.

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see your post!! Thanks so much, I love the poetry.