Monday, September 29, 2008

Thinking of You (Ghosts)

I once had a close friend who sometimes said "I'm thinking of you even when I'm not thinking of you." As far as relationships go (if those are warm thoughts) it doesn't get much better than that. He also liked to use the phrase "a friend to the end," echoing an indelible childhood spelling lesson. No longer alive, he remains a powerful ghost, an influence and inspiration.

We slip in and out of each others' lives, representing what? exactly. How do we pay homage to the countless ghosts who flitter around, moving in and out of our consciousness in apparently random ways? And then there are those invasive others: the mosquitoes, cockroaches, snakes in the grass. Today there are also twitters and tweets.

Not to mention public figures. Now we see, framed by physical finality, the exemplary life of the stellar Paul Newman: actor, philanthropist, husband, father, champion of hope, laughter, and healthier foods.

I seem to be someone who feels deeply indebted to inspiring ghosts, living and otherwise. Looking at the title of my mother's book, I suppose I must come by this naturally. Here is her poem of that title, drawing on the theater tradition of leaving a single light burning in the dark after actors and audience have departed.


The most precious
thing is hidden
within its home
of body – that spark,
that spark of spirit
that shines, that shines
no matter what,
as if it were a ghost lamp,
the bare bulb left burning
in the hush of night
in the darkened theater
after everyone has gone.

"Ghost Lamp" by Joyce Kennedy, from Ghost Lamp. © Laurel Poetry Collective, 2006.


Nor said...

hmm- am I repeatingmyself? Anyway, I love the ghost poem of Joyce's-- especially the lone bulb image-- but wondered why you didn't go on to mention your friends fignewman *tribute* to Paul-- eating some 700 plus a year. Makes me queasy to add it up. At least-- thanks to your encouragement-- I now know, after writing to Pa, that the corn syrup is not genetically modified!

elena said...

Hi Nor,
Check back later this week for more on Paul and organics. One of the cashiers at Bloomingfoods teared up yesterday when we talked about him. He was such a mensch!