Happy Birthday Stephen—
Sitting alone with Thelonious Monk
Solo in the attic
With a radio…
The Finnish poet Jarkko Laine once told me he lived on Deep Ditch Road.
The Egyptologist on the subway told me about mummified beetles in tiny sarcophagi.
Now and then I recall a certain turtle.
The fence will not be fully repaired.
I fear my teeth have more wisdom than my hands.
This is also my Finnish grandmother’s birthday.
She was a devout Lutheran and therefore not much fun.
She did however send me photos of herself, not having much fun.
Just this morning, for a time, I became Heraclitus, the dark one, then, just as sudden, I was my father who when young imagined he would be a writer before World War II changed him, made him somber, until he believed literature was a childish thing. He’s gone now. The poems he loved are still on my bookshelf. I admit I try to read them as he did—mindful of another’s joy and curiosity and yes, apprehension.
On his birthday—I’m not sure which one—Heraclitus invented the string clock….
ABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.
(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger