Thursday, April 16, 2009

Second thought:

In 1997, with the help of a co-worker at IBM who’d become something of the semi-official genealogist for the Silliman clan plus the ample resources of the internet, I finally was able to track down & meet, for the first time ever, a half-brother & -sister I’d sort of known had to exist somewhere.

It was a strange occasion for everyone involved. When my father died in 1965, Nancy & Buddy were just ten & nine respectively. Buddy is ten years younger than me to the day. What they knew about my full brother, Cliff, and me consisted of a single blurry photo my mother must have sent sometime in the 1950s.

One of things that Buddy & Nancy acquired, of course, was a poet in the family. I sent both of them copies of my books. These puzzled Nancy some (tho this past month she’s told me that the book club at her church tells her that I’m the real deal), but Buddy and I had a good conversation about it when I was down in Charleston later that year. Monday’s note here reminded me of that conversation, because Buddy’s occupation is doing yard work, specifically focusing on rose gardens.

Reading my poetry, he noted, was a lot like a walk in a garden. “You notice one thing, then you notice something else” was the way he put it. I’d never thought about my writing in those terms before, but his characterization rang true to me then, and still does twelve years later.