Loops of Memory*
I had forgotten to tell him
about their presence
until it occurred to me.
"Would you love to join the discussion
with Chomsky, Piaget,
and the others?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said kindly,
"Just tell me when".
That was during the conference
at Abbaye de Roy-au-mont,
just outside Paris.
He sat patiently
and followed the speakers.
It was a loud conference
But his doodle of cats
and other real fantastic animals,
I can't recall exactly,
On the way to our last lunch,
who had dominated this gathering
of Nobel Prize winning biologists and world famous mathematicians,
philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, (& etc),
walked up to him,
and shyly said:
you remember me,
when I sat in your class at Harvard
with Roman Jakobson?"
He looked at Chomsky,
and slowly said:
"I'm sorry, but no".
Those were the only words
he would utter
in that conference.
"I imagine myself in the New World
with Christopher Columbus
for he first time,"
(he mused the following year,
recalling the events at Roy-au-mont)
"A symphony of sounds,
and of hopes.
Then I imagine myself
on the moon
with the astronauts,
and all I see
and barren rocks,
and the earth I long for
out of reach..."
7 November, 2009
Promises to Keep: A Christmas Poem**
Two years ago the newly governor-elect,
told party delegates at a first conference
how he promised his widowed mother
he would be honest and never take bribes.
“She said: ‘Now, that you won, son,
whatever you do, be honest’.”
“And I told her: ‘Oh, of course Mom,
I’ll be honest because that’s how you raised me’.
“She said: ‘That’s good, son, I know you will.
Let me ask you another question.’
I said, ‘What’s that?’
‘Promise me, son, you will never take bribes’.
“I said: ‘Of course I’ll never take bribes,
not only would that be dishonest
it would be illegal,
and I would never do anything to dishonor
the memory of my father’***.”
“She said: ‘That’s good, son,
I’m sure you won’t,
but I just want to remind you
because that’s how mothers are’.
I said: ‘I know’.
“She said: “Let me ask you another question.’
I said: ‘What’s that?’
She said: ‘Do you think you can
get Aunt Daisy’s son-in-law a job?’
I said: ‘I dunno,
Two days ago,
or two weeks
to 'a very presidential' Christmas,
our duly elected governor
was led abroad from his home
by the FBI...
December 13, 2008.
*"Bricolage' (term suggested by Huon Wardle) from a serialized parchment titled "A Memory of Claude Levi-Strauss" by Scott Atran
**Adapted from "'R.B.'s Promise to Mom: 'I'll Never Take Bribes'", ABC News: Rhonda Schwartz and Kate McCarthy.
*** a former Nazi prisoner during World War II; subsequently a hardworking steel-mill immigrant in the U.S.