Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Have Had Kindness Here

On the corner: Our Urban Mansion in West Philly

The beautiful imagery and heart - breaking clarity of Howard Nemerov's poem, Going Away," was new for me in 2004 when my good friend Cate (mentioned many times before on this blog) sent me a copy to guide me on my westward journey. For many years we had lived across the street from each other in Philadelphia; then Cate returned to Ohio, and a year later, following in her footsteps, my family and I returned to Indiana. How aptly Nemerov describes the intensity of those neighborly days and years, and how honestly he portrays the conflicted decision to move away. Nowadays, Cate and I remain "neighbors" in the Midwest -- well, Ohio is right next door to Indiana! -- living proof that some friendships manage to survive the momentous, earth - shattering, giddy, tragic, time - traveling confusion of moving day.
Across the street: Cate's Stately Queen Anne

Going Away
Now as the year turns toward its darkness
the car is packed, and time come to start
driving west. We have lived here
for many years and been more or less content;
now we are going away. That is how
things happen, and how into new places,
among other people, we shall carry
our lives with their peculiar memories
both happy and unhappy but either way
touched with a strange tonality
of what is gone but inalienable, the clear
and level light of a late afternoon
out on the terrace, looking to the mountains,
drinking with friends. Voices and laughter
lifted in still air, in a light
that seemed to paralyze time.
We have had kindness here, and some
unkindness; now we are going on.
Though we are young enough still
And militant enough to be resolved,
Keeping our faces to the front, there is
a moment, after saying all farewells,
when we taste the dry and bitter dust
of everything that we have said and done
for many years, and our mouths are dumb,
and the easy tears will not do. Soon
the north wind will shake the leaves,
the leaves will fall. It may be
never again that we shall see them,
the strangers who stand on the steps,
smiling and waving, before the screen doors
of their suddenly forbidden houses.

Howard Nemerov, American Poet
poem from
The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov
, p. 220

For more poems about packing up and leaving, see
"Moving Day"
my current post on
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

New post tomorrow:
"The Desolation of Abode and Boy"
~ also about moving day ~

Our downtown Philadelphia house.
The lovely vintage door is just the same,
but I have to confess that the windows were
never so elaborate as this when we lived there.
Beautiful job by the new owners!
Lovely photograph taken by my niece Sara.
Thanks Sara!

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed a lot of your posts are about moving lately. Is this a coincidence or are you anticipating a move? Maybe it's just the empty nest feeling of the last of your boys moving out. Whatever it is, thanks so much for these posts and especially the pictures of your homes in Philly.