Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Clarinet

My clarinet was beautiful. It was a black, teak instrument with shining keys. I would swab the inside of the tube with small square soft cloths. I kept it safe with a fragrant oil. The case had red leather on it with little brass feet. When I opened the case, the smell was powerful and always reassuring. The interior of the case was a red soft fur-like material. Each part of the clarinet had its own special place. Each section had to be placed precisely. When the case was closed and the clasps were clicked, the clarinet was safe
My sister, Elaine, gave me the clarinet as a gift.

The clarinet was from marked with the name, “Noblet” and was from Paris.

I bought Elaine a book, “The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám”.

A clarinet and a poem.

They live in my memory together.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Grief

Perhaps the wound is not a metaphor?

The wound is forever.

It is alive.

It grows and shrinks.

Sometimes others can see it.

Mostly I keep it hidden.

It comforts me.

I can keep it forever

The wound is not infected..

It hurts less today than when ...

It will never go away.

I want it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An important moment and a simple truth

My very first employment after graduating from Berkeley was as a Deputy Probation Officer in Alameda County, California. As a naïve 22 year-old, working in the criminal justice system was a huge awakening. One story is special for me.

I was doing adult investigations, which means I wrote short reports on various adults convicted of (mostly minor) crimes. I had an office in a new building near the freeway in Oakland. The office had what we now know as cubicles, but in 1967, it seemed only that the walls did not reach the ceiling. There were doors, but they were glass and I felt comfortable with that arrangement since I suspected many of the people I met were not my friends.

On this day, I met a young man who told me that his family was on “welfare” and had run out of money. It was the end of the month. He told me that he had two children and only a piece of bologna to feed them. He asked if I could “loan” him some money. I gave him 10 dollars. In those days that was a good bit of money.

The next day or so, I went to see my supervisor, Mr. Green, who I considered a very wise man. I asked if he thought I had been stupid? Had I been hustled? Was I a fool?
The conversation was very brief. He simply told me that I had a choice. I could be one of two people. I could be someone who risked being a fool, but also might help a family to eat. Or, I could be someone who is never a fool and who never takes the chance to help someone. Who did I want to be? Good question.--- I am grateful that Mr. Green shared his wisdom with me.