“There were days like this, that passed without an image”

by Jamison Koehler on September 29, 2010

Every summer for the past 25 years, my wife and I have gone up to Cape Cod to spend a week with my family.  The family used to cram itself into a three or four bedroom house my eldest sister rented in Orleans.  As the family got larger with more in-laws and kids, we moved to a nine bedroom mansion sitting out on a bluff at Pleasant Bay Narrows.  For the past 15 years or so, my mother has rented us an entire 41-room inn at Craigsville Beach.

The accommodations at the Craigsville Inn, though spartan, provided us plenty of room to spread out.  While the younger grandchildren have always crammed themselves into a couple of bedrooms divided by gender, the older grandchildren and the adults have taken advantage of the extra space by spreading ourselves out over multiple rooms.  My wife and I, for example, have always taken two rooms on what has become the adult floor – one to sleep in and the other for my wife to use as a study.

In addition to the games, sporting events and the beach, every summer we have devoted at least one evening to some type of artistic endeavor.  One summer, for example, my brother-in-law had us each bring a quote from some type of literary work.  The challenge was to guess who had written it.

This past summer, we did a reading of my father’s poems.  Each of his 5 children and 13 grandchildren chose a favorite poem and then read it to the group.  Realizing that the number of summers we spend there is finite (my father is 95 years old and my mother is 85), I also brought along three copies of what my siblings and I view as his defining collection of poems (it is his most personal).  I had my father sign and give a copy of the book to each of my three children.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was feeling blue and I took the train up from D.C. to Philadelphia where she is a sophomore at Penn.  After dinner and a movie with one of her friends, my daughter and I were walking back to her apartment when she told me she had been reading the collection and that one poem in particular had extra meaning for her. “It is like Grandfather is speaking to me through this poem,” she said.  What she didn’t remember was that this was the same poem I had chosen to read this past summer at our informal poetry reading.

As I head up tomorrow to Massachusetts to visit my ailing father in the hospital, I reproduce the poem below.  It too has always been one of my favorites.

Flowers

How trivial
was the seed
before the sowing.
That scatter
on the palm
was not involved
in earth;
its doings, givings,
fallings, that since
have borne in odd
moments, mostly
out of sight.

There were days
like this, that passed
without an image.
Feelings came
too late and it
was over.  Pain
was the root,
from seed to flower.
Smile; and think
then of things
I kept for you
too long.


Copyright:  Stanley Koehler

2 Comments on ““There were days like this, that passed without an image”

  1. Hi Jamie,

    Maggie gave me the link to your blog and I have been enjoying it. This is one of my favorite posts so far! I hope you’re enjoying being back in the DC area and that you and your family are doing well.

    Sue

  2. Sue: We have missed you at the Cape ever summer since the last time you were able to join us.

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