The Advent of Wisdom

The key sits loosely in its lock, unturned, unnecessary.  In a neighborhood where children drift from one house to the next with the freedom of wind-tossed leaves and women freely borrow milk or sugar from unattended kitchens, no one locks a closet.

In this neighborhood, closets hold no treasure – no jewels, no gold, no banded stacks of bills.  They overflow with life’s necessities: shoes tidied into original boxes, purses and shirts, a wardrobe of ties. Now and then, two closets nestle side by side. Hers is obvious, all ajumble with boxes of quilting scraps, extra pillows, photographs and report cards. His, more intentional, arranged with more precision, is a purposeful array of hunting vests, stamp paraphernalia, drafting tools and gun cases. It’s a perfect marriage of closets.

Dimly lit and cave-like, the closets are mysterious, compelling and sancrosanct.  Few children dare enter them without permission, but in these weeks before Christmas a child might be tempted to cross the bounds of caution by the merest whisper of possibility: “There might be presents…”  

It’s a special kind of hide-and-seek, this business of children seeking out what parents have hidden  -  under the bed, in the basement, on those out-of-the-way shelves behind the washer.  And always, the list of potential gift caches is crowned by the best hiding-place of all -  a parent’s bedroom closet. (more…)

Team Muse


Years ago, before the advent of computers and electronic organizers, I kept a manila file folder filled with clippings.  I tucked away poems I found especially moving.  I kept funny cartoons, interesting speeches reprinted in the newspaper, book reviews and critical essays torn from magazines.  As years of reading and re-reading passed, I unfolded those fragile pages ever more carefully, watching the paper brown with age and begin to grow fragile. The file became a touchstone of sorts, and it always was close at hand.

Eventually, I lost the file.  Where or when it happened is a mystery.  I simply reached for it, and it was gone.  Since that day, I’ve spent years searching for a half-remembered poem about a dog, a poinsettia, and loss, not to mention a commencement speech about climbing a mountain.  I’ve not much hope of finding either, because I remember only a few words from each and have no idea of their original source.

On the other hand, I do remember some of the cartoons. One of my favorites showed a disheveled Graeco-Roman woman standing outside a cafe filled with patrons engrossed in books or bent over coffee cups, writing in notebooks.  Barefooted, dressed in a flowing robe and sporting a laurel wreath in her hair, she clutched  a sign that said, “Will inspire for residuals”.

I didn’t do a lick of writing at the time, but I knew enough to laugh.  The thought  of a down-on-her-luck Muse soliciting business outside a cafe is humorous because it’s so absurd.  (more…)


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