Those days, I sat on our front porch holding my daughter, my arms and chest vibrating with joy like a tuning fork. Atoms of our happiness fell in on one another like gears turning at the heart of the universe. When stars came out at noon, the meadow of my hollow hand was filled up with strange light. How can it be now that we are two separate islands in an ocean of blue water? I think of my own mother long ago, sitting on her porch with me. That distant island. When my daughter sits on her porch this summer, holding her own child I will watch her from my island. I will call to her over the blue water.
Guilt and remorse over Nazi atrocities and the horrors of World War II have consumed Germany for decades, influencing politics, culture and the arts, including cinema. The rise of the German New Wave of filmmakers in the 1970s (led by Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders and Rainer Fassbinder) was fueled in part by a desire to exorcise Germany’s dark past.
She likes to watch her children in the long grass, how they disappear, emerge, like they’re swimming in an ocean without current but the one of growing. See how the long blades part for them, how they close up all around, Watch the gold heads bob, hands reach up for the sun as if it’s the transportation of these years. Hear the silence, the safe silence. And then the muffled noise rolling through the shafts, secured forever by the wrinkled smile of her hearing. Children are nature’s people now, but her nature too, the one that says, play here, will later sigh, but how could I prevent you.
No one understood my nightly need to be reassured I’d wake up again the next day. Eyes closed, I saw no sheep but the tufts of pampas grass looming silver like a solitary path. The scroll hung above me, a verse in five and seven, its flowing hand thin and illegible—I still knew it was about our life not lasting very long. How is it that adults were okay with such a prospect? In July, bamboo blades rustled against paper cranes and prayer strips; I wondered how I’d made the cut, when I wasn’t a boy my father wanted, wasn’t a koi princess my mother said would magically turn her tail into a pair of legs. I looked for the fabled rabbits on the moon, a family of them taking turns to pound rice into pearly cakes along their dark, elliptical orbit.
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in America, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s and is expected to bring between $15 and $30 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. One of two copies owned by Old South Church in Boston, it is one of only 11 remaining copies published. The proceeds will be used to help replenish Old South’s endowment once $7 million of it is used for deferred maintenance. The church historian resigned over the congregation’s decision to sell one of its treasures, but the rest of the congregation overwhelmingly supported the decision (New York Times, November 15).