Theme Friday: Lilacs

Even in Kyoto/I hear the cuckoo sing/and long for Kyoto.  ~Basho


The car coasted to a stop on the gravel between the graves.

You comin’, Dad?

Nah.  I’ll just wait here.

I let the car door close behind me and started down the nearest row.  I’d only taken a few steps when he called me back.

Listen.  You tell Mom I’m not drinkin’ again, I just don’t feel good.

I’ll tell her, Dad.  But she knows that already.

I checked my watch and wondered if he was close to needing insulin.  I walked past Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ruth, Cousin Casey, and the other townspeople who’d gone on before us.  I stopped when I got to Dad’s folks, and, as he’d asked, tried to tell them what they knew already.

It was the lilacs, I think, carried on the summer breeze, that caught the words in my throat.  I looked back toward the car, catching  sight of the Thompson stone.  I thought of Alice, in another season, talking about the snow on Bethel’s grave.  She cried with no excuses.  It was winter then, and there were no lilacs to blame.

I couldn’t see them, but they were thick in the pure village air.  They grew in common at our house on the hill and by the old barn in Grandma’s back yard.  I’d sat there with Sean one day, our backs against the wooden door and our heels in the rich, black dirt.  I told him the Basho haiku that embodied Lucerne for me.

Well, that doesn’t make sense.  He’s in Kyoto, hears a bird sing, and longs for Kyoto, even though he’s in Kyoto?

It makes perfect sense.  It would be like saying, “Even in Lucerne, I smell the scent of Lilacs, and long for Lucerne”.  I’m in Lucerne, longing for the perfect Lucerne I knew– the ideal or idyllic Lucerne, which can’t exist anymore, because some of us are missing.

The sun signaled time to meet Mom for lunch.

I said goodbye to George and Myrtle and walked back to the car and their waiting son.

Did you tell her what I told you to?

Yeah, Dad, I did.  And she said to tell you you’re not too big for a spanking.

His laugh filled the lilac’d air around us and we were in an old Lucerne,  in a different time, and a different place, where everything was fine again for just a little while.


Christine and Annie take on Lilacs.

11 Responses to “Theme Friday: Lilacs”

  1. […] sure to admire Annie’s and Clancy Jane’s […]

  2. as usual I love it.
    the birdsong, a beautiful call to memories

  3. Susan Carver Williams Says:

    Once again you’ve captured an experience a feeling I’ve known but didn’t know I knew! Perfect … you have a powerful storytelling gene.

  4. Recapturing the perfect of the place you are in – yes…

  5. Says:

    I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat after reading this one. I am with you in the cemetery. I just came down to see Uncle George and Aunt Myrtle after visiting Max and Evelyn in the new section of the cemetery. Our Lucerne as we remember someday.

  6. Ida Allis Says:

    And YOU are not to big for a spanking — as soon as I can figure out why everything is so blurry!!!! :P)

  7. Says:

    It is vivid in my memories driving into Lucerne after that long trip from St. Louis with my parents. I knew when I saw the lake as we came into town that we were finally there after such a long drive. Grandma Hettie always had a meal on the table for us not matter how late. My bed was the green couch in the living room. And then on to the Lowry farm to drive the tractor and help do farm chores. Home is comforting. I always wondered why I sensed home but after reading all of the wonderful pieces of memories my mother kept, now I know why Lucerne is home.

  8. Julia Says:

    Love it. You know what struck me, a little cosmic correlation that you might not know? The name Myrtle. Myrtle is a flowering shrub, like the lilac. It was sacred to Aphrodite (goddess of Love), and a plant of masculine power and weddings for Kabbalists. An alcoholic drink can even be made from myrtle. Myrtle is also sacred to wiccans for May Day, which we just had. Thus, you’ve got sort of a bigger, more layered finish to this piece than you may have even intended. Even more interesting (to me) is that I had just been dreaming about violets–all purple flowers. We are all so connected. Cool, huh?

  9. Says:

    It just occurred to me that the idyllic Lucerne for me is rounding the bend and seeing that lake, which is no more, and the thought of burnt sugar pies and pepsi cola. Grandpa Tom calling me “Susie Q” and giving me a dollar. Wonder if subconscously that is why my daughter is Susan. ?? Always a trip to the Duncan General Store and telling Nellie what I wanted but she never wrote it on the ticket. Going to Aunt Ruth and Uncle Charlie’s house. And then on to the farm, Ray and Alma’s farm. There were chores to do. Precious memories…God smiled on me the day I was part of that idyllic place.

  10. clancyjane Says:

    Me, too, Karen. Me, too. 🙂

  11. […] and Clancy’s take on […]

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