ALONG WEST FERRY STREET

 

A simple story, left over from the wind, from the chill that penetrates on a November morning, when the frost has settled in the hills and the valley has a certain swift warmth that fills the pores and lifts the spirit, a warmth beneath the cold wind, beneath the currents rising above maple and aspen, a center of warmth remaining from early June, a stillness in the blood, a relaxation of the mind, a coming together of lilac and wheat, chrysanthemum and snowdrop, the coming together of a simple story we have not remembered clearly, a story that calls up streets and smells, textures and patterns, darknesses and light, the pattern of light on the soul swept by autumn wind, the pattern of darkness on the brain when the heart has ceased and the body lingers as warmth on a cold and windy morning, as warmth in the hands when the fire is soft and birch burning creates a pattern of trust the body shares, a simple story running along West Ferry Street in Buffalo, when the trolleys were cold and the sparks set off flocks of birds, down to the lake on a cold November day when the light had already shifted and the river current was too swift for swimming, too cold for lingering, too high to provide any stillness for the mind, a day along West Ferry Street when the ferry didn’t run, when the summer languor had retreated to the south, to a warm spot beneath the waves in Merrymeeting Bay, to a warm spot along the Androscoggin, to a warm spot beneath the covers at night when the faint light of the streetlights covered the sheets and the pages of a book moved slowly and slowly moving went out into the night, bringing another light with the white clean pages, another light with the tracks along West Ferry Street, another light marking the intersection of Breckenridge and Elmwood, a fainter light coming from the crest of the Androscoggin, from the soft sheen off Merrymeeting Bay, from the glancing light in Harpswell Sound, a light found in the late autumn or early in the spring, softness remembered from a simple story that ran along West Ferry Street, that crossed the Niagara River at the base of Bird Island, that ran into Ontario like a fleet dove or fleeing snow goose, a light tracking across the deep streets of Buffalo, following the curve of a young mind out onto the channel between England and France, where the islands were special and Celtic princesses still held court, a simple story, however, that did not assume too much, a story of a young girl in a bright frock, a young girl moving rapidly along West Ferry Street, she was alone and brought with her several books for the long evenings and bright mornings, for the times when the day spun around and there was neither conversation or company, moving along West Ferry Street, in the company of Celtic princesses, in the company of ancient gods and knights and ladies, in the company of northern hawks and owls, in the shadow of Androscoggin, in the bright sun of Merrymeeting Bay, in the warmth of stories told and retold, a summer’s day far to the east of Buffalo, in a house facing Katahdin, in a kitchen smelling of apples and butterscotch rolls, in a kitchen facing the flanks of Katahdin, in a kitchen warm and close where the cold wind did not go, where the cold wind off the lake could not reach, a kind of solace in the scent of apples and rolls, in the warm undertones of a kitchen facing Katahdin, facing the northwest, facing the dreams shed by passing snows, by passing storms on the iron crest of Katahdin, far from Erie’s cold winds, far from the reach of Niagara’s swift current, far from the dusty tracks along West Ferry Street and the busy intersection of Breckenridge and Elmwood south of Olmstead’s park and the sleek silhouettes of museums and tombs, far from the enchanted waters of Erie, the enchanted shadows of Niagara, the swiftness felt within the bones on a cold afternoon under the wind, beside the light, dancing down West Ferry Street as a elm in flower, as leaves shed along the day, bearing the scent of apple and butterscotch rolls, following the trail of Celtic princesses and the first young knights of the Table Round.

 

 

 

 

Andrea Moorhead

 

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