I’m in Helsinki, a city where ever since childhood I’ve come and gone over the years. It’s dark and rainy. I knew it would be. I love it. And yes, there’s Sibelius playing in my head without an iPod, the stark and magnificent opening of “Finlandia” and I’m bundled in my black overcoat walking beside the sea. I love hearing strangers talk and laugh in steep weather.
It’s important to know what you love especially the small things. I love the morning song from Peer Gynt, hot soup in winter, the sound of distant dogs barking at night, jazz piano any time.
Of course I love people, my wife, stepchildren, family, old friends, two horses in particular. But I talk about them all the time. I seldom say “I love that barn mouse.”
T’was in Helsinki some thirty years ago I discovered the work of Bo Carpelan. He wrote lyric keyholes: Join dreams together/to a single reality/a longing
And so much longing there is. So much of it is outside the body and mind. It’s in Lucretius’ atoms. You smell it in the old book shops.
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