In this strange April without travel, Good Friday has arrived.
North Buckhead's community of small businesses keep their heartbeat going. Children fly kites, play catch and ride bicycles. At the condos, Latino roofers work all day, singing cries of joy.
As the death toll mounts, and Trump and his cronies grow more unhinged, Fran Lebowitz lifts my spirits. A New Yorker interview with Lebowitz demonstrates why New York City will survive this calamity.
On Good Friday, I take down from the bookshelf my battered Norton Anthology of English Literature and read as I do every year John Donne's "Good Friday 1613, Riding Westward." The poem's theme of a man diverted from Easter reverence by business travel seems more poignant this year, with the nation forced into the opposite experience of withdrawal from activity.
Like many others, I've been searching my dusty CDs for old favorites unheard for far too long. On top of the pile: Bill Evans,"Sunday at the Village Vanguard," and the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. The jazz classics raise my hopes that music will again fill New York City spaces.
In this season without ballgames, I've grown fond of the daily "This Day in Sports" column in the New York Times. Long ago opening days, Stanley Cup finals, Masters tournaments, and NBA games come back with imagined cheers. One day, real ones will return.
Holland Cotter, one of my favorite New York Times writers, had a good piece Friday morning on the mound of stones that serves as an informal memorial to Henry David Thoreau at the site of his cabin where he lived near Walden Pond. Since the late 19th century, visitors to the site have added stones taken from the volcanic pond's banks or removed them to take home as mementos. The constant change makes the site a kind of living memorial, as Cotter says.
Reading the piece, I remembered when we came to Walden during a stay in Concord en route to Boston. (The Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frosting.) It's surprising, and in Thoreau's spirit, to find that Walden is a popular public beach. The pond's perfect circle and dark blue water are like a civic baptismal.
I was also reminded of Carolyn Forche's poem "The Museum of Stones," in her new collection, "In the Lateness of the World." The poem was first published in the New Yorker.
The Museum of Stones
This is your museum of stones, assembled in matchbox and tin,
collected from roadside, culvert, and viaduct,
battlefield, threshing floor, basilica, abattoir,
stones loosened by tanks in the streets
of a city whose earliest map was drawn in ink on linen,
schoolyard stones in the hand of a corpse,
pebble from Apollinaire’s oui,
stone of the mind within us
carried from one silence to another,
stone of cromlech and cairn, schist and shale, hornblende,
agate, marble, millstones, and ruins of choirs and shipyards,
chalk, marl, and mudstone from temples and tombs,
stone from the silvery grass near the scaffold,
stone from the tunnel lined with bones,
lava of the city’s entombment,
chipped from lighthouse, cell wall, scriptorium,
paving stones from the hands of those who rose against the army,
stones where the bells had fallen, where the bridges were blown,
those that had flown through windows and weighted petitions,
feldspar, rose quartz, slate, blueschist, gneiss, and chert,
fragments of an abbey at dusk, sandstone toe
of a Buddha mortared at Bamiyan,
stone from the hill of three crosses and a crypt,
from a chimney where storks cried like human children,
stones newly fallen from stars, a stillness of stones, a heart,
altar and boundary stone, marker and vessel, first cast, lode, and hail,
bridge stones and others to pave and shut up with,
stone apple, stone basil, beech, berry, stone brake,
stone bramble, stone fern, lichen, liverwort, pippin, and root,
concretion of the body, as blind as cold as deaf,
all earth a quarry, all life a labor, stone-faced, stone-drunk
with hope that this assemblage, taken together, would become
a shrine or holy place, an ossuary, immovable and sacred,
like the stone that marked the path of the sun as it entered the human dawn.