Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Symphony of Bells

A Symphony of Bells

Every loss tolls the bell of every other loss

so that what began as a solitary mournful knell

becomes a pealing of farewells:

The kiss on the lips,

the turning away at the dock,

“Must it be? It must be.”

“Can you see me?”

“For all we know, we may never meet again.”

She took her regal pose in a forbidden place,

looking perfectly entitled. We didn’t know

that she was telling us goodbye.

Later, she appeared in a dream,

but she was running away, not staying.

Mourning for a small animal

brings with it the ghosts of friends

dead, too busy, estranged or distant,

the helpless affectionate shrug

from the spirit about to depart,

reluctant, but having no choice in the matter.

The tolling of remembered farewells

becomes a symphony of bells.

Does it sing of love lost

or love endured

or something else entirely?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Good Edumacation

Matthew, a former piano student, when asked what he was getting from Home School, said “a good edumacation”. When I heard that it now costs $50,000 a year to attend the University of California at Berkeley, I thought about what I learned at my (much cheaper) college back in the seventies.

*Other people are not necessarily like you (Political Science).

*Teach scales in parallel, not by key signature (Piano Pedagogy).

*Everybody—even you-- has to take the junior English exam.

*Freshman English is fun, even if they make you take it in your senior year.

*Weekend credential courses: Take lots of snacks.

*When you phone somebody with a question, get their name. Write it down.

*If you know some Greek, you can ace beginning Biology.

*When you graduate, take with your left and shake with your right.

I learned left from right, however, in kindergarten. Left was the windows; right was the restroom. I also learned how to pronounce “W”, which unlocked the code of written letters. I learned that it is important to be self-sufficient, like the Little Red Hen. I learned that you have to brush your teeth. I learned that it was OK to sit in the teacher’s lap.

I am sorry to say that at San Francisco State’s graduation, where they herded all of us down to the football field in our disposable caps and gowns, I got confused and took the diploma with my right hand.