When he [the witness] says “one night at about two,” he would, in those days , have been understood by everyone to mean two hours after Avemaria and not, as now, two hours after midnight. Then—and indeed until well beyond my childhood—the day was not divided civically, as it were, by clock-tower chimes but ecclesiastically, by the ringing of church bells: Salveregina, Noon, Vespers, Avemaria, and the Second Hour of the night. And between Salveregina and Noon, the bells pealed at regular intervals to call the faithful to one Mass or another. A timetable that had more significance for the womenfolk than for the men, who were generally at work. A temps perdu today. Yet those bells still divide the recherche of all men my age.
This made me consider how the patterns of my early school days—a twelve-block walk at 7:30 in the morning, school from 8:15 or so to 3:30 in the afternoon, then twelve blocks back for a glass of milk from Mom and TV for an hour before Dad came home from work, then dinner, then playing outside past nightfall, in good weather, or playing inside if the weather was bad, then to bed with a toy Winchester rifle stood on end to make what I imagined was a tent where I could read by flashlight until my eyelids turned to lead. Somewhere along the line I stopped reading by flashlight, but I still read in bed until sleep swallows me up. Each book a kind of Mass, I imagine: a hour or two communion with the invisible—the distant living or the dead.
Finally read Don Share’s Squandermania. He writes beautifully for a poet with so little to say. Poetry understood as pun-jazz and a juggling of allusions. These fragments I have shored against, etc. I read along wondering who’s this for? For readers who would enjoy a a cocktail party thrown by contemporary lit grad students at Harvard….
I know what it’s doing but could do it myself.
I know what it’s doing and have to admit
I could never do that and would never want to,
or could never do that and would kill to be able to.
I don’t know what it’s doing but just don’t give a shit.
I don’t know what it’s doing, but I can’t stop re-reading it,
beguiled by this commotion between my ears and in my heart.