Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

  May 24, 2004

If our entire lives were just that simple

A few weeks back, I published a poem in this space. It was wrongly attributed to a real poet named Cecilia Woloch. Her poem was also published in this space, but without attribution. Here is my poem again, if the editor is kind enough to print it. I promise never to do it again; that is, write a poem.

Waverly Is Full of Ghosts

(by James O'Leary, non-poet)

Waverly is full of ghosts,

our town is.

Our town has child ghosts.

You can hear them of a summer night.

They sing with silver voices:

"Annie, Annie over."

"One, two, three. . . " all the way to ten as they seek and hide.

You can hear them of a summer night:

The Zellers and the Copelands,

Ralph and Aldie Gagnon. Jerry Hoover.

The pretty red-headed Rauschendorfer girls.

Jimmy Kemp.

You can hear them:

Mary, Dan and Annie Herbst, singing themselves to sleep.

The Daigles, Jack and Lorraine.

Don Smith and Bernie Althoff.

"Star bright, star light. First star I've seen tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight."

And their wishes came true, or didn't come true

From New York to California.

Our town is full of ghosts, our town is.

But their sweet voices fade away as their parents call them home,

One by one.

(I got a couple of irate calls from Waverly people telling me, by golly, they weren't ghosts! I wish I could have heard from the Rauschendorfer girls, Mary and Mavis.)

An addendum to First Star I've Seen Tonight:

Why Fear the Dark?

(By Dom Helder Camara)

Why fear the dark?

How can we help but love it

when it is the darkness

that brings the stars to us?

What's more: who does not know

that it is on the darkest nights

that the stars acquire

their greatest splendor?

Psalm 139:11 "Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike."

In response to my Mother's Day column, a friend of mine from San Antonio sent me this personal memory, which is worth pondering by all sons and mothers:

"My mother died in 2000. She was 85 and lived a full life. I went away from home for the first time in 1973, when I was 22 - a three month trek through Europe alone - and I was very unsure of myself, very self-conscious; almost afraid, many times.

"I got a letter from her in Paris at a student USIT drop. I held it dearly and carried it down the street to a park to find the perfect place to sit and read. I opened it with great anticipation, and found only a simple sentence in the middle of a large page: ‘Go, and be free.'

"But that simplicity told me everything I needed - even what I didn't know I needed, and it filled me with the power to grow, to attack a foreign place, to step out into life.

"When I left my son on his first day of college, I hugged him with tears of joy, and gave him the ultimate gift a parent can impart: ‘Go, and be free,' I told him.

"My mother spent her last week in an ICU attached to an oxygen machine. She was extremely weak and the equipment prevented her from talking. We agonized over the final decision to remove the life support, but faced the reality that it was the best thing.

"The tubes came out and off, the monitors blinked down except for heartbeat, and she entered into her last moments. I held her hand, and bent close to her ear and whispered, ‘Go, and be free, Mother.'"

-Lyndon Dodd

In keeping with this theme, here is a poem by Warren Prunty:

Learning the Bicycle

(For Heather)

The older children pedal past

Stable as little gyros, spinning hard

To supper, bath, and bed, until at last

We also quit, silent and tired

Beside the darkening yard where trees

Now shadow up instead of down.

Their predictable lengths can only tease

Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone

Somewhere between wanting to ride

And her certainty she will always fall.

Tomorrow, though, I will run behind,

Arms out to catch her, she'll tilt then balance wise

Of my reach, till distance makes her small,

Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know

That to teach her I had to follow

And when she learned, I had to let her go.

This just in from England:

The Rasmussens' granddaughter, Adrienne, who had a dramatic Sept. 11, 2001 romance which ended in England, now has three children.

"I've got three little men with me now! Oliver Chase and Xavier Gray joined our happy home on 26 March 2004 at 12:00 p.m. and 12:08 p.m. respectively. Ethan (Big Brother) loves his baby brothers. Relief! People have been telling me stories about how the first child resents the new baby (and in this case, two babies), but we haven't had any of that here. Thank you, Lord!

"I have some friends coming to visit me from the States. I told them I would pick them up at the airport, but now I've thought better of it and I got a car to go pick them up and they should be here any minute.

"I almost forgot I had three little ones when I made the offer. I don't know what I was thinking. It must have been sleep deprivation.

"Arthur takes Ethan fishing with him every week. It's so cute. Ethan has his little fishing pole and he's just as serious as his dad when he casts out his line and stands there waiting for a bite. Arms crossed.

Staring out into the water. Wellies on his feet. Just like dad. Baseball cap on head. Just like dad. He doesn't understand that if you throw rocks into the water it scares the fish away. He loves to throw rocks and watch the splash. Oh, if our entire lives were just that simple."

- Adrienne in England


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