Wet Wool Memory

I buy my daughter a pomegranate, because she loves the fruit, because of the red it brings to our snowy Vermont landscape, and because Saroyan wrote about pomegranates. My parents did not buy pomegranates. As a kid growing up in New Hampshire, I wondered about that mysterious fruit — much like I wondered about Turkish Delight, the Narina sweet my father found in Ann Arbor and bought for us with great joy.

On a snowy day, the girls discover a coolant leak in my car. The mechanic who fixes the leak explains to my teenage daughter what the level of coolant should be in a car, when to add coolant, and when to worry. Standing between the two of them, I study his unzipped Carhartt jacket, stained with motor oil. Like Proust’s madeleine, so much of my past was redolent with wet and snowy clothes, work and words twined together.

Like that, then, the past’s gone. The girls and I stand outside the garage in a snowstorm again. I tell my older daughter as I always do, drive carefully. Laughing, they’re off again.

From one of my mentors, poet Ruth Stone:

Yes, we are everything, every experience we’ve ever had, and in some of us, a lot of it translates and makes patterns, poems. But, my God, we don’t even began to touch upon it. There’s an enormous amount, but we can touch such a little.

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