Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Finding Consolation


Normally I'm overflowing with words. I talk a lot. I write a lot. I remember the lyrics of practically every song I've ever heard and I remember the exact wording of everything you ever said so don't argue with me. (Yes, it is annoying. Even to me.) So I guess it's not entirely surprising that the two times my husband- the rock of my life, the pillar that holds up my sky - has gone under the knife, my post operative stress reaction has been to go flat, lose my stuffing, lose my words. Since his surgery, I haven't been able to work on my writing projects, have had a hard time coming up with things to blog about, and don't have much energy to gab on the phone with people.

Instead, I've been aching for a vacation. A long quiet vacation in a warm place where I don't have to talk much because I don't know the language. Or at the ocean, because the ocean roars over, washes away, speech. But the husband is still weak and hunched and he tires easily. So here we stay. Which, really, in the scheme of what could have been, is fine. But still....

So today, in a thrift shop, I pulled a slim volume of poetry out from its hiding place between a door-stopper Grisham thriller and a self-help tome. it was "The Art of Drowning" by Billy Collins. I opened it. It was signed, "Cheers, Billy Collins." Then I opened to a random poem. It was one called "Consolation." It's a wonderful poem, and I recommend you read the whole thing. But here I'll only quote the first strophe:

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hill towns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

It was like getting a message in a bottle, through an ocean of detritus and words, from Billy just to me. "Cheers," he tells me. And here, dear. Here is consolation. It was perfect.

Here's a link to the whole poem, if you'd like to read it.

14 comments:

more cowbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
more cowbell said...

Beautiful pic, Elizabeth. I like it when something jumps out like that, like your poem, as if it were meant for you at just that moment. I can't imagine what you've been going through of late, but I've felt those end result feelings now and again. Sometimes, when the most is going on inside me, those are the times when the fewest words make it out for others to hear. Good thoughts to you, sweets.

Willym said...

I often think that the best part about being away on a trip is the coming home. Familar things that you have missed - in more senses than one. And what you, KH and the kids have been through the familiar sounds like what is needed.

The poem was a bit of serendipity sent by the earth goddes to remind you. She can be a powerful bitch sometimes.

Baci a tutti - there are still candles being lit.

Willym

a thousand shades of twilight said...

For someone who has 'lost their words', you still write beautifully, Elizabeth. I'm not at all a spiritual person but reading things like that give me the shivers. Sorry to hear that you have been so flat, darling, and that your husband is still so weak. I'm glad to hear that you found some genuine consolation in an unlikely place (I KNEW there was a reason why we are addicted to thrift shops)...

JB said...

I love Billy Collins.Serendipity at work.

sageweb said...

That was nice. I crave getaways all the time and then when I get away I miss home.

Hope you everything is well with you and your family. Miss u bunches!

Anonymous said...

I love Billy Collins, too. Wouldn't it be great if he happened across your blog and read this? I'm sure it would make him smile.

Here's to your husband's total and swift recovery and to the two of you at the beach sometime soon.

Elizabeth said...

Cowbell - The picture is from my trip to Paris last year, taken on a dreamy evening walk through the city.

Those little moments where the universe seems to be offering you just what you didn't know you needed are wonderful, and it was needed just now. The knuckle head is recovering, but more slowly than either of us wishes. And we're both adjusting to the idea of him as a person with a chronic, incurable illness. Thanks for the good thoughts.

Elizabeth said...

Willym - As ever, thank you for those candles. Whoever sent me that message, the Goddess or Billy Collins, i took it to heart with gratitude.

Twilight - Thank you, always, for the writing props. The wheels of the publishing industry grind exceedingly slow ...

And yes, going to thrift shops is a part of my meditative practice in making myself available to the messages and gifts of the universe. Or so I tell my husband!

jb - Isn't he just wonderful? He is so restrained and subtle and makes it look so effortless.

Sage - I miss you too sweetie. I'll be back to normal, yaking a mile a minute soon, I'm sure.

Elizabeth said...

Anonymous - I'd so adore it if he were to stumble across this little thank you note to him. But even if, as is most likely, Mr. collins never does, I still have the rest of the book to read and much more comfort to find there.

Thanks for the good wishes. And as for the beach, maybe next year!

Doralong said...

Frequently the universe bestows these small gifts precisely when they are the most needed. Rest, adjust.. And the beaches down south are pretty swell in the fall after all.

yellowdog granny said...

will light more candles and send out more prayers for his speedy recovery...hugs and a ahh, shucks to you from west,texas.

mrpeenee said...

You know, thanks for this. It was just what I needed.

Elizabeth said...

Mr P - I'm glad. I added a link to the whole poem at the end of the post, if you'd like to read the whole thing. It's a good one.