During a trip to Colorado Springs many years ago, you visited my high school English classes. In one class we were beginning Transcendentalism, and I wrote this quote on the board: “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
I displayed pictures of houses—very old, decrepit houses—and told the students to choose one and write for ten minutes about what they saw and what might have happened there. Sitting in the back of the room, you lifted a little notebook from your purse, closed your eyes and thought for a moment, then took a breath and began to write.
When the students shared what they’d written, the usual responses ranged from eerily sad tales to creepy horror scenes. Much later you showed me the beginning of the free verse you’d written that day. Eventually it became a full narrative poem, but here’s what you wrote in the early draft:
Gone from the warped and bare front porch
The soft weary voices of evening—
And the steady creak of the porch swing
As weary ones rest from their labors,
Relax from the plow and the washboard.
Great are the secrets you hold there,
And the love that was whispered in evening.
But gone are your voices forever,
As the broken glass of the windows,
And the rusted spring at the screen door.
From “Lonely House” by Mary E. Shepherd
I post this for your friends and family, Mom, and especially for your great-grandchildren who would otherwise never know your feelings about farm life in the 1920-30’s, and the beauty you found in simple daily events. What you wrote is a reminder of your gentle and hopeful spirit.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius
“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.” ~C.S. Lewis
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” ~ Sir John Lubbock, English writer and archaeologist