Academic journal article The Hudson Review

November

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

November

Article excerpt

No order, not even chronology, to these snippets

of spliced together home movies, digitalized

by a niece and arriving in the mail today-a flash drive

of my life over fifty years ago.

October lingered on and on, then ended.

I've spent this first November afternoon, cold rain

darkening the slate of the patio,

and now afternoon darkening the windows,

watching my grandparents and parents walk toward me,

or more accurately, toward the camera, images

of Christmas and Easter, birthday parties and anniversaries,

tables piled high with turkeys and roast beef,

with trays of cold cuts and potato and noodle salads,

with Seagrams 7, Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker.

Everyone dancing and eating. How different and similar

they look. Their feelings are commonplace and profound,

and, of course, unknowable. Such pleasure now to find

my ten-year-old self diving off the dock in unison

with my brothers, and then, as we loved to see

when we were children, flying up out of the water in reverse,

returned once again to the dock in a kind of comic eternity.

Of course there's the sad undertow of the dead-

grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins-

even if they are almost a story now, their lives

ordered in retrospect, made complete.

All afternoon, the negotiations of memory

have worked out its algorithms of happiness and pain,

figuring forth the sound of Uncle Bill's laugh,

and my brothers' accordions and the clacking shoes

of my mother and her mother, dancing polkas

then holding their weak hearts, out of breath, wheezing

and laughing. …

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