Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A mother can be an odd creature, but very important.

My family lived in Norway when I was a child and my mother once took a short trip to London while my brother, dad and self stayed home. In the hours between the end of school and dad’s getting out of work, by brother and I stayed at the house of a sweetly loopy woman named Maria. Maria had a spastic little son named Nodder and a very butch older daughter who collected comic books and pretended not to care about anyone because she actually cared about everyone and it left her a total mess. I do not remember the daughter’s name, but I do remember that she let me read as many comics as I liked and when she heard my mother was in London, she quoted a fragment of a poem that has been a favorite ever since. It is taken from Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal, c. 1939:

“September has come, it is hers
Whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
Whose nature prefers
Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace.
So I give her this month and the next
Though the whole of my year should be hers
who has rendered already
So many of its days intolerable or perplexed
But so many more so happy.
Who has left a scent on my life, and left my walls
Dancing over and over with her shadow
Whose hair is twined in all my waterfalls
And all of London littered with remembered kisses.”

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