the immortal fig
the descent

thank you for your gift


Thanks for Remembering Us
- by Dana Gioia

The flowers sent here by mistake,
signed with a name that no one knew,
are turning bad. What shall we do?
Our neighbor says they're not for her,
and no one has a birthday near.
We should thank someone for the blunder.
Is one of us having an affair?
At first we laugh, and then we wonder.

The iris was the first to die,
enshrouded in its sickly-sweet
and lingering perfume. The roses
fell one petal at a time,
and now the ferns are turning dry.
The room smells like a funeral,
but there they sit, too much at home,
accusing us of some small crime,
like love forgotten, and we can't
throw out a gift we've never owned.

from Daily Horoscope, 1986
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.


This Thanksgiving week, I will have the immense and overdue pleasure of welcoming my husband home from a very long trip to Japan.  We'll be able to spend our first holiday season together as a married couple and I can hardly wait to hear his laughter, bury my head against his shoulder, and wrap up in a blanket together in front of our two-year-old Christmas tree. (On a personal note, thank you, Jason, for every beautiful flower arrangement you've sent me, especially the ones my co-workers have tried to steal because they are uniquely elegant and because they're always "just because.")

The poem "Thanks for Remembering Us" might seem an oddly dark choice considering thankfulness is supposed to be glowing and bubbly and positively rose-cheeked.  But I am here to tell you, Dear Reader, that I am thankful for some great things (like meeting my husband) as well as for some really scary, terrible things (like bad choices that lead to important paradigm shifts).  I'm also thankful for some things I never believed I would have, including sobriety, the same job for over four years, and health insurance in America.

I'm grateful most of all for things that have come to me by happy accident.  I'm not one who believes that we get what we deserve in life - I'm not even sure we deserve anything.  But some of those happy accidents include reading the right poem at the right moment and experiencing a change in thought because of it.  I don't think I've ever been sent flowers by accident but I have received generous and unexpected perfume samples from other lovers of scent that have changed my whole olfactive landscape.  Dana Gioia mentions the perfume of the sickly-sweet dying irises and roses in his poem, and those are two things I could not have learned to appreciate without the random acts of kindness of others.  I would not have known the great fougere (fern) perfume Jicky  without the generosity of a fellow Guerlain fan.  And to SweetLife, who passed to me a love for the warm, spicy amber of Paestum Rose, I thank you personally for this and for the discoveries ahead of me as part of your workshop.

I am especially touched by the people who, for no apparent reason than they thought it a good idea, have visited or linked to this blog and have encouraged me to keep up with it.  I don't keep up with many projects (I have too many interests and am easily distracted) but knowing that there are a few people out there who found amusement or useful information here has been inspiring.

I sometimes stroll through my Sitemeter statistics and wonder about the people who pass through here.  I don't know much about you; sometimes I know what link on another site you clicked to get here, or the words you typed into a search engine.  Sometimes I can tell what you found most interesting when you leave the site to go somewhere else.  I think it's funny that the number one term that leads people here from a search engine is "opusculum paedagogum" (a little work that teaches) but I wish I had something more profound to tell you once you've arrived.  To whomever arrived here after searching for a "poem in memory of my babysitter" I hope you eventually found what you were looking for, though I doubt you found it here. And speaking of search engines, perhaps the single thing that I'm most thankful for: a man many miles away from me typed "William Falkner" into Google over five years ago and ended up married to me.

Dear Reader: whoever you are, wherever you find your inspiration, thank you for being mine.

Image: "A Touch of Elegance" roes and iris bouquet by FTD.  Photo via
Poem: "Thanks for Remembering Us" by Dana Gioia from Daily Horoscope, Graywolf Press, 1986.  Mr. Gioia is the chairperson for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Daily Horoscope was his first book of poetry.

Posts prior to 2015 first appeared on my previous website, memory & desire (