It’s a great literary word and I love what it means. To be completely (pardon the expression) bamboozled. Stunned. Lost in the complexity. Wandering mentally aimless. Made mentally woolly by the ghosts of the past.
”Naked and alone we came into exile,” Thomas Wolfe wrote. ”In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. . . . Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?”
And then he said … and he repeated it throughout the book: “Lost, o lost. Ghost, come back again.” By which he was remembering his dead brother.
I read this book– all of his books, actually — when I was 14 and 15. Those were my serious reading years. Wolfe really spoke to me. “Look Homeward, Angel” was nearly 1000 pages of poetry. I don’t think I’d get through the first chapter today. My taste for poetry has withered on its vine. Even so, a really good poem grabs me by the heart.
A beautiful poem isn’t just words. It’s a cry to your soul and all of “Look Homeward, Angel” was a soul’s cry.
The thing that makes me bring up a book I haven’t read for nearly 60 years was that the main character in all of Wolfe’s books — especially his three early ones — was permanently flummoxed. The world meant little to him. He was never clear on where the boundaries between real and ghostly began or ended.
That’s how I felt then and sometimes today. It’s not dementia. That’s when I can’t remember a perfectly simple word because it has flown my mental coop and I have to find it on Google (how could I survive without Google?) … or just write around it until later when the word just shows up. Like a lost kitten who was hiding under the bed, the word looks at me and says: “What’s your problem? I was just under the bed. Didn’t you look there?”
This morning it was raining so hard I thought there was a strong wind blowing. I looked outside and realized the trees were shaking from the weight of water falling on them.
Snow? Not a problem. Cold? No worries. Light rain? Can handle that.
You want ME to go out THERE?
You go out. I’m home until it stops.”
Gibbs had already left a load for me in the kitchen, right next to the trash can. He’s very neat that way and never goes for a rug or anything soft. I threw the dogs out. Gibbs lay down in front of the doggy door and went limp. I had to lift his front end, push it out the door, then lift his butt (which seems to be growing) and pushed it out, too. Then I locked the door while I cleaned the kitchen and gave them fresh water.
They stood in front of the house. Dripping. Looking at me. Daggers to my heart. I let them back in, went to the bathroom and came back. Gibbs had saved a pile to remind me he is a proud, stubborn terrier. Amazingly, he also looked guilty and has spent the rest of the morning giving me his best “sad-eyed” look. He knows he has done wrong, but if it rains like this again, guilt will not change him. At 11-years-old, this is not a dog with a lot of “give” in his nature. Much love, but little flexibility.
I could have gotten up earlier and tossed them out. I was tired. The bed was warm. Excuses, excuses.
Life keeps getting livelier and I don’t understand how two long-since retired people could get so godawful busy this late in life. Life never seems to go where we want it to do, though sometimes — maybe even often — it does something more strange, but better.