Posted tagged ‘Memorial Day Weekend’

Liquified Whitman – First Weekend of Summer and More

May 28, 2012

On Memorial Day Weekend

First outdoor pee of the season, infused
with Vitamin B (to ward off
bugs), blends with blades of deep yellow-green
liquefied Whitman,  the
world lush at my feet as I feel, excitedly, that I just
can’t wait.

Later, I think
of the date–of those not far
away who bunch cut flowers in
cut glass to place in other fields of
soft, much-better-tended grass–and my forehead bristles with
thanks, insufficiency, those fields
of soft green grass.
I’m so sorry,
I want to tell them–all who carefully
position those
bouquets, and those who
lay beneath them, and all those too
who have no bouquets.  I’m so sorry
for all that you’ve missed–the glistening,
urgent, buzz of being, this summer, this
bright day. 


Here is an old poem, much re-written and re-posted  for Memorial Day weekend, and especially for the dVerse Poetry prompt hosted by Victoria C. Slotto.  I hope it’s not too weird or disrespectful feeling.  Veterans, and the lost, have  a great place in my emotional landscape, but Memorial Day weekend also always meant for me the glorious beginning of summer and the freedom it brings (if you have private places to be outside.)   An odd mix.

Memoriam Day Weekend – Thinking of Old Friends, Swimming, Summer

May 29, 2011


Memorial Day Weekend. These were days of great joy for me as a child–the swimming pools opened! Water, still shiver-producing, but already shimmering in bright sun, could finally be dived into, waded through, lingered in. My life, for at least the next couple of months, would no longer be just lived on earth.

Memorial Day still fills me with a kind of reflexive exhileration, and I still use it as pretty much as the marker for the beginning of the swimming season. (I have a childish heart.) Except that now, of course, I’ve lived long enough now for the weekend to be imbued with not just anticipation, but remembrance.

In my case, the memorial is not so much for victims of wars, as for two specific friends, now lost, whose birthdays happen to fall on this weekend, just a day or so ahead of my own.

I used to joke that I felt so akin to these two people–a French man much older than myself named Rene-Jean Teillard, and a friend my own age, Rhona Saffer–because we were all three Geminis. Although Rene and Rhona did not know each other, we all three shared certain classic (if you believe in that kind of thing) Gemini traits–a quickness to both delight and bemoan, a love of the verbal, an inability to ever do just one thing at a time.

Having gone through the deaths of each of these dear friends, having met the cluster of kith and kin around them, I increasingly suspect that my feelings of closeness with them had little to do with our supposedly shared Geminicities.

Each of them was simply an incredibly good friend. By this, I do not only mean that they were each a good friend to me–but that they were each very very talented at friendship itself. They were thoughtful, loyal, fun, caring; they had the even more unusual quality of being able to inspire thoughtfulness, loyalty, fun and caring in others.

I think of them now–of Rhona Saffer especially, whose birthday is today–this beautiful, lilacy, water-filled day, a day when swimming has always begun for me, in pools and ponds; when the flickering shimmer of light is not just seen, but moved through, floated upon, and, briefly, briefly (it’s cold below the surface) plunged into.

Other posts on Rene, Rhona, swimming in summer.

Memorial Day Weekend- Liquified Whitman

May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Here is a draft poem for Memorial Day weekend.  Did you know that Vitamin B is recommended to ward off bug bites?  Apparently, mosquitoes hate the smell.

On the Grass By the Pond

My Vitamin B-infused pee
blends with the blades of yellow-green
below my thighs, like
liquefied Whitman.
Memorial Day Weekend.
First outdoor pee of the season.

Memories of Memorial Day

May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend.

When I was a child growing up in suburban Maryland, the weekend was glorious. It meant the opening of swimming pools for summer; it meant the opening of summer for summer.   It meant that any school days we had left would count for nothing but a countdown, in which the sweat accumulating at the backs of our knees would smell faintly of graphite and the white vinegar used to sponge down the school cafeteria.

The pool was where we spent almost every daylight moment in our summers.  We had no air conditioning,  managed the heat through damp bathing suits, that were kept on even after we came home, darting around the slow darkening of summer yards, kept on even in the blue glare of night TV.

Later, as an adult, Memorial Day Weekend meant a chance to drag my two children to upstate New York, leaving the very momentary green of May city for some real, deep, comprehensive, green.  We seemed to be collecting coolness up there too.   (Air conditioning has not been an easy accomplishment in my life and there is nothing like most New York City apartments for jumping into summer fast, each room its own little microcosm of global warming.)

It was only on these trips up to the country that I glimpsed the true meaning of Memorial Day.  There is one cemetery our route passes; actually the road bifurcates it; drives smack down the middle.

Of course, the cemetery is green in May;  it’s green all summer long, the grass lush, fenced in, mown, lined with small brown and grey headstones that look almost like the class of kids in my old schoolroom, half-asleep.

There were always a few little bouquets, some too brilliant against the rectangular stones to be completely real.  But on Memorial Day weekend, there were more, and, with the flowers, small American flags, prongs stuck into the earth or on small stands

Sometimes, driving by, we’d see a few small groups, women with pale hair scalloped around their faces, the curves made by curlers, or permanents, old-fashioned hair.  Women with pastel pants, sometimes worn under dark windbreakers; upstate New York’s weather changeable in May.

Even watching them, with their curled hair and small American flags, it took me a while to catch on.

(For a villanelle about swimming in summer at the pool, check here.)