For the love of Katey,
there is a mountain blue sky today.
Earth is pounding,
Green is rushing,
Feet are flying
My friend Lois grew up in the thick of Logan Square, one of Marv’s old neighborhoods, and he likely would have known exactly the building where her family had their sheet metal shop and apartment. If he had visited her Madison home, Marv would certainly have recognized the tiny 1920s kitchen of his youth where, amidst original cabinets and lights, Lois serves me tea, selected from the Wall of Tea Tins.
Marv cultivated friends who, like Lois, could find joy in the beauty of cheap (free) things that others overlooked. I can easily imagine his reaction to the variety and number of tea tins crowding shelves clear up to the ceiling. Right away, the distinctive red treasure chest, a battered old Zvetouchny tin, would have caught his attention. “Oh my, oh my…,” he would have chanted, as astonished as if magician had just pulled a gold coin from behind his very own ear, perhaps punctuating this phrase with a little chuckle. “That’s an old one, a really old one.”
We would have had tea, playing Guess That Corner, as displaced Chicagoans are wont to do, and maybe he would have told Lois why Zvetouchny (“The Aristocrat of Teas”) was so special to him, a story which, sadly, I do not know. In the quiet kitchen, surrounded by nothing more than a breeze through the open windows, and neighborhood friendship, Marv would have feasted on two pleasures he prized above almost anything else – laughter, and plenty of hot, black tea.
As far as I know, Marv did not believe in God. He had little tolerance for any form of psychic comfort that involved what he considered to be self-delusion, setting a curiously high standard for a man who led a double life until his 60’s. (It seems pretty common for us human beings to cherish beliefs that reveal our blind spots and shadows, and Marv was no exception.)
But he did believe in Pooh, and in the urgency of being in this life, as it is now. And if I have ever shown any courage, it has come out of trusting that in this belief, he really did know what he was talking about.
In my imagination I call to tell you
the apples have reddened on the tree in
the grocery parking lot
And you answer from the pitch black of the Pinto
back seat annointed with Mennen and Old Spice
where we folded around each other in sublime discomfort.
In my imagination I call, just to hear you say
“What do you want?” and to hear myself answer,
It’s a good day at work when your friend gives you a reason to look at a list of English words with Arabic roots, which topic leads to the inevitable Rumi, and where that leads to usually can’t be spoken.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. – Jelaluddin Rumi