Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Continuous Garden of Daffodils from Muskegon to Holland Remind Wilbo of a Woman Who He Loved in East Lansing.

Spring Days and Daffodils Shine Brightly on Window Sills. I wrote that short poem thirty-five years ago. Daffodils were one of the first flowers available in the spring, and I bought a bunch and bought a vase and placed the gift on the porch of a woman I liked. I left the poem in the stems, written on a three by five card. She dropped a note on my front porch, thanking me for the flowers and complimenting the poem. We didn't really have phones of our own; so we communicated by notes on porches. Or I would merely walk on over and knock on her door.

She and I had an English class together at Michigan State during the winter. We didn't meet until after, when I met her serving soup on MAC Avenue, working at a soup and sandwich shop called Hobies. Hobies had all the traveling troubadours playing on their small stage, wandering guitar guys who lived on tips, and I would drink coffee, eat soup mixed up with oyster crackers and write by pen and paper as the troubadour spun his tales. She would bring over more coffee and sometimes, extra soup. I was living on the soup and this was a kind gesture. And then we would walk home to the neighborhood called the student ghetto where we lived in rentals and talk English major kind of topics.

During the summer, she went back to Benton Harbor to live, where her father served as a pastor at a prominent church. We exchanged letters, and talked about my taking the Greyhound bus to Benton Harbor for a long weekend without really setting a date. She went off on an archaeological dig organized by Michigan State, and later she wrote me to say she had fallen in love with a graduate student in archaeology. And then she vanished into the world, which is what happened before the days of cellphones and Facebook. In 2005, I was called out to the nuclear power plant south of St. Joseph - Benton Harbor to consult, and I found the church where her father had preached for decades, and I wondered which house had been the parsonage. It was something to do on a weeknight, and I felt strange about showing up on the church on Sunday and asking any questions. So I didn't. It had been twenty-five years, after all. Who would remember the daughter of a pastor who had retired almost three decades prior?

I would like to disbelieve the alumni magazine published by my alma mater. If I read correctly, she passed all too young fifteen years after we met. I check the graduation year. I check the age. I check again. She had passed two years before I made the visit to her father's church. The internet, too much a machine to be cruel, had known this fact for twelve years. I am saddened and I feel abashed too.

I like this time of spring. I see that the crab apples are opening up leaves, yet along the freeway south to Holland, the twigs of the trees all had red tips, buds awaiting the signal to pop out the greenery. A rather busy gardener has worked the freeway from Muskegon to Holland, planting bulbs, and I couldn't count the number of daffodils in the median. The sap has been harvested for the year's maple syrup and yet we still have strawberries to look forward to with anticipation.

I need to plant daffodils in a random place to blossom next Spring.

No comments: