Saturday, April 6, 2013

From My File Cabinet - 9 - "Some Letters to TS"


To T.S.
10 April 1972

            Anyhow, you still planning to quit and go back to Ohio?  I guess it’s the spring migration.  Like the swallows (or whatever they are) that return to Capistrano, it’s in our blood to return to the place of our birth.  Being away, we are restless.
            It’s as though we once left something behind.  It’s there, somewhere on a summer afternoon, or perhaps an evening with the sun’s warmth still in our bones.  Not being sure of exactly what it is, we return to search for it . . . until, year after year, it gets farther away, until we’re not really sure there’s anything there or we forget why we came.

            Right now, I think it’s on the sand, among the reeds, like a footprint never to be found after so many years . . .

*   *   *  *   *
To T.S.
March 1973

            Just heard on the radio that the swallows once again returned to Capistrano, as always on the Feast of Saint Joseph, 19 March . . . happened to mention it to a few people – they were unimpressed.  As for me, I think it’s beautiful.  I can’t describe the feeling it gives me to know those swallows return faithfully, while people stand and watch in amazement and delight.

            The sap is running – slowly but steadily filling coffee cans on the sugar maple in the back yard.  Hope to make a cup or so of syrup.  The nights haven’t been very cold but the days have been extremely warm, between 60 and 70.  Yesterday we started a bit of a cold spell.  Perhaps it will be good for sugaring . . .

            The tomato seedlings are sitting in the sunny bedroom window photosynthesizing along with the sweet basil . . . toward a delicious tomato sauce, I’m sure.  The garden awaits the turning and the manure to ready it for tomatoes and squash, peppers and beans, lettuce and chard, parsley, basil and beets, perhaps some eggplant and pumpkin and cucumbers . . . I guess I’ll have to widen the plot by two or three feet and plant the pumpkins in a patch off to the side . . . almost half the backyard would go to garden if I had the time . . . so many good things to plant and nurse and to watch grow and blossom and bear fruit.

            Which reminds me: it’ll soon be time to go off to the green fields and meadows for frest tender dandelions . . . great in salad, better cooked like spinach with oil and garlic (just a little) or with butter; best cooked with white kidney beans and ham hocks and a bit of red pepper, just for taste.  It takes a lot of dandelions for a big pot of greens.

            I’ve made friends with the little brown and white dog next door . . . she’s so timid, but was brave enough to suffer a few pats on the head . . . has since been eager to hear a few words from me on my way to work and again in the evening on my return.  We’re now separated by a greater distance as her master has moved her quarters a few yards: with the fence and her chains she’ll have to forego the occasional pat on the head and settle for a friendly whistle and a few kind words.  Her barking and wagging tail make me smile . . .

            Life should be so simple.  That’s about all the complexity I care to deal with at the moment: swallows and maple syrup, gardens and dogs.  Yet I’m inclined to give some thought to how the cigarette I’m about to light is going to damage my lungs; to how the paper bags from the grocery shopping add to pollution; to how legal abortion affects the psych and sensitivity of our society; to how many people are telling you to write your congressmen about everything; to how everyone talks and no one is worth listening to; to how it is that I’ve gotten to be twenty-five.

            I’ve been meaning to write for several weeks.  Since the sun warmed my face one afternoon and the smell and feeling of spring was in the air: all my senses brought me to another spring, another time.  Fleeting memories like a word on the tip of your tongue.  Memories of having friends near.  Memories of sunshine and warmth, of soft, wet earth beneath your feet, a light and happy step . . . Yet somehow it’s not important.  For today the swallows returned to Capistrano.  Today the brown and white dog next door barked and wagged her tail at my coming.  Today I wrote a letter.

*   *   *  *   *
To T.S.
16 March 1977

            Rummaging through desk drawers, attempting to clear the cobwebs in my head.  found a few letters that you wrote me . . . long, long, ago.   I thank you.

            I sit here alone, watching my supply of cigarettes go up in smoke, smoking the butts from the ashtray in anticipation of a nicotine fit at some later hour.  It has been a rough winter: not so much the weather outside, but the constant storms within.  A feeling that the picnic has been ruined.  Like a child who has not yet learned to be patient with the ways of nature.  And now the fog has set in . . . so thick I cannot see where I am going . . .

            Going . . . not sure I really want to go anywhere.  Take your coat off, sit down, stay awhile.  Like being in gear with one foot on the brakes and the other on the accelerator, getting nowhere, exhausted.

            Thoughts spilling out of my brain like the saliva dribbling from the mouth of the village idiot as he sits mumbling to himself.  What to say next – no matter, no one is listening.  

            Wondering what has happened to my memories: hoping they are safe and well and happy.

            Hoping this message doesn’t arrive at your door like an unwelcome visitor.  We cry only when we know there is hope . . . the sun will shine again.   Thanks.


  1. Poignant thoughts - but who's T.S.? Friend, family, or lover?

  2. Hi Frank - beautiful words although the last letter seems rather down. If you have these letters to TS in your file cabinet does that imply that they are unsent?

  3. T.S. was a guy I went to college with and someone I considered a close friend. You'll have to wait till my memoir comes out to learn more!

    Back before email, I sometimes kept copies of letters I sent, so, yes these were actually sent...

    I struggled with my sexuality and melancholy throughout my adolescence and young adulthood; I am still prone to pensive, existential ruminations.



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