Air Tea With Dolores, my sixth volume of poems, will be released by Leaky Boot Press, UK, August 1. It’s my homage to first love. Dolores was an English girl sent to a religious boarding school in West Islip, Long Island, to escape the World War II bombing of her native East Anglia. I was one of the few Americans at the school. The news we received was usually bad. The school had in store for us moments of sublime pleasure, enlightenment, noble sacrifice, and abuse, molestation and rape. Dolores and I formed a bond that began by sipping imaginary high tea in a ruined gazebo. I’ll never know if she remembered me as fondly and as often as I remember her. I know that one of the crucial things I was to know about the girls and women I would meet is that they were not Dolores.
The city of Hudson, New York, is the seat of Columbia County, about two hours north of New York City on the Hudson River. About 6,700 people live in Hudson, but Saturday its streets were choked with thousands more as the city observed Gay Pride Day with a gala parade. In many ways the day was a tacit rebuke of almost everything the Trump Administration stands for. The participants affirmed tolerance, compassion, and respect for dissent. Hudson, an old whaling town, has had to reimagine itself. Its wealth and vitality were sapped first by the decline of manufacturing and then by the helter-skelter and often reckless growth of strip malls in adjacent Greenport. Like other Hudson Valley towns and cities, malls sucked the blood out of downtowns, but today Hudson’s commercial area, mostly along its main street Warren Street, enjoys a vibrant arts, antiques and food service economy, albeit hampered by high taxes and commensurately high rents.
Twilight, dusk, is shape-shifting time, reminding us that nothing is as it seems. It’s the time elementals are about. And if lightning is flashing creatures are seen for which we have no name.
I’m cross-dominant, meaning I prefer to perform some tasks with my right hand and some with my left. About one percent of the world’s population is cross-dominant. I am by birth left-handed, but like many children of my generation I was forced to use my right hand where I naturally inclined to use my left hand. In addition to being cross- dominant, I’m right-ear dominant.
In old age I’ve become acutely aware of these factors because I have a bone-conductivity problem that inclines to misconstrue words, making it difficult for me to read aloud or recite. But there’s an upside. The misconstruction of words often leads to unusual and sometimes strangely felicitous constructions. An example of my cross-dominance, is that I throw with my right hand but routinely plant shrubs and flowers with my left hand. I lead with my left foot, which provided the clue to a therapist years ago that I am by nature a lefty. Suits my politics, too.
As a baseball catcher I could catch equally well with both hands, but I routinely threw with my right hand. That said, on occasion I threw the long ball to second base with a fair amount of accuracy. Playing ice hockey, for some reason I was persistently left-handed.
The light of a fey friend
never quarrels with the dark,
but the light of a false friend
only pretends to dispel it.
Sometimes saying there are no words is saying too much.
Suddenly, in the middle of the night, I remembered being sung to, rocked in someone’s arms, the heave of someone’s breast, the rhythm of someone’s heart, but not the song.
Certain people when they’re with you give you the impression they’re not, thinking perhaps of somewhere they’d rather be. Others are so wholly with you you find yourself more whole. I’ve been trying lately recollect which sort of person I was when I was young. I’ve been summoning ghosts to testify. Some come eagerly, some balk.
No one is illegal. We are all asylum-seekers.
Sometimes there’s nobody to tell it to, and that can be a kind of prison, unless your mind is a kind of film studio.