Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
A Rainy Morning
by Ted Kooser
A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.
Ted Kooser, “A Rainy Morning” from Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used by permission of The Permissions Company LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. (buy now)
Today is Memorial Day. It became a holiday after the Civil War, to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle, and after World War I it was extended to honor all United States soldiers who died in any war. Union general John Logan chose the 30th specifically because it was not the anniversary of any battle. But in 1968, Congress’s Uniform Holidays Act severed the link between Memorial Day and the original date, changing it instead to “the last Monday in May” to allow for a three-day weekend. Some opposed the switch, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye; they believe people have lost sight of the original meaning of the holiday, a day for reconciliation and honor. It has lately become a holiday for families to remember anyone they have lost (veteran or otherwise), to lay flowers at gravesites, and, in later years, barbecue, shop, and watch the Indianapolis 500. For those unable to travel to the graves of their loved ones, especially now during COVID-19, there are websites like FindAGrave.com, where one can create a cyber-monument and leave a “virtual” note or bouquet.
Some choose to visit the grave of a favorite author. Ernest Hemingway served in the Red Cross during World War I and his grave, in the Municipal Cemetery, is one of the main tourist attractions of Ketchum, Idaho, where he was living at the time of his suicide in 1961. Fans leave bottles of liquor, and pennies, as though Papa could grant their wishes.
Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “I wouldn’t mind a bit if in a few years Zelda and I could snuggle up together under a stone in some graveyard. That is really a happy thought, and not melancholy at all.” He’s buried in Rockville, Maryland, at St. Mary’s Cemetery. As a nonpracticing Catholic, he was originally denied burial in the church graveyard, but his daughter, Scottie, appealed the diocese’s decision, and his — and Zelda’s — remains were moved from Rockville Union Cemetery in 1975. Their graves are occasionally adorned with packs of cigarettes, martini glasses, and gin bottles alongside the flowers.
John Keats was buried in Rome, and he wrote his own epitaph as he lay dying of tuberculosis. It reads, “Here lies One Whose Name was Writ on Water,” and he wanted that line to be the only engraving on his nameless stone. He was disheartened by harsh criticism of his “Endymion,” or so his friends Joseph Severn and Charles Brown believed, and so they added the following to his monument: “This Grave contains all that was mortal of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone.” Oscar Wilde was so taken with Keats and his final resting place that he wrote an essay — “The Tomb of Keats” — and a sonnet — “The Grave of Keats” — about it. “Thy name was writ in water — it shall stand: And tears like mine will keep thy memory green,” wrote Wilde.
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air”; the philosopher, poet, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (books by this author). His father, who died when Ralph was eight, was a Unitarian minister, as were many of Emerson’s family members before him. He was a quiet and well-behaved young man, not an exceptional student. He graduated in the middle of his class, studied at Harvard Divinity School, and got a job as a ministerial assistant at Boston’s Second Church. Not long after his ordination, he was married. He was happy at home and in his work, and soon he was promoted to senior pastor.
Two years after Emerson was married, his wife, Ellen, died of tuberculosis, at the age of 19. He was devastated. He began to have doubts about the Church. A year after Ellen’s death, he wrote in his journal: “I have sometimes thought that, in order to be a good minister, it was necessary to leave the ministry. The profession is antiquated. In an altered age, we worship in the dead forms of our forefathers.” He took a leave of absence and went on vacation in the mountains of New Hampshire. By the time he returned, he had decided to resign from his position as minister.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®