Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forgive me...

I'm reposting this from about five years ago as I was thinking about it for a scene in my novel where my 14-year old protagonist in Medieval Spain considers the Jewish 'Day of Atonement.'

Tomorrow night begins the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. It's a time to 'atone' for one's trangressions. It would be like an all-day once-a-year Catholic confession, except that you don't confess to anyone, but acknowledge within yourself the deeds that you wish to atone for. I really like the opening service (Kol Nidrei) mostly for its seriousness and the solemn beauty of the music/chanting. I don't resonate with the idea of asking for forgiveness before God, but acknowledge that it is a healthy thing to take stock of one's deeds of the past year and consider them in a reflective light.

In the last couple of days, a book appeared in our downstairs bathroom. I guess my eldest son put it there. I recognized it as one of the books that I stole when I was about 14 from people whose kids I was babysitting. There are four books I remember stealing when I was a young teenager. To wit:

1. The Existential Imagination. A great anthology of short stories, including work by Kafka and Beckett.
2. Psychoanalysis and the Existential Imagination.
3. & 4. The Collection Works of Shakespeare (two volume edition). This I especially liked because of the etching of a pastoral English scene on the front, all those puffy clouds, stone buildings, and rivers running through millwheels.

From almost thirty years after the event, its fascinating my choice to steal these books. Firstly, it reveals that I was a strangely precocious, nerdy, and serious 14-year old. I also remember buying Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite on cassette using a handful of silver dollars. Secondly, the idea of stealing two books on existentialism is mesmerizingly ironic. It begs the question of how I conceived of my personal moral code. I do remember thinking of all those books in these houses as a beguiling array of worlds of thought and fiction for me to discover. As far as I recall, I didn't steal anything else from any other houses. Once I did try a drink of "mead" from a bottle. Again, that was because it seemed so redolent an entry into another world, mead recalling to me probably the same time in England that the Shakespeare illustrations did. If a kid stole a book from my shelves, would I be upset?

 ABSOLVO MIHI


tree forgive me
shoehorn forgive me
five forgive me
blue sky forgive me

forgive noun
forgive verb
forgive tonsillectomy of sky

replace my bones with words
& walk

replace sounds with sky

moon
fungi
mouth

raingear when the rain
has stopped falling
the lawns of barbershops
choirs of hidden deer
the war of the day
an amnesty of quiet