Monday, February 11, 2002

Sad to report the death of Forrest Schoenberger, the son of Bar Scott, a folk singing friend of mine from the heyday of Camp Hoboken. Forrest, who was about 3 1/2, died of Stage IV liver cancer (hepatoblastoma) last Saturday.

The evening before receiving this terrrible news, I pulled into a gas station with Jake strapped into the back seat and listened to the Valentine's Day Show of This American Life. As usual, it was a breath-taking example of radio at its finest. The subject was long-term love and the segment was entitled Donald Hall Fell in Love . For those (like me) who don't know, Donald Hall is an American poet of some note. His wife was a poet named Jane Kenyon who, after a long illness, died of leukemia in 1995. While he cared for her, Hall wrote the poems that would eventually be published in his book Without. After hearing him on the show, I purchased the book immediately and it is the most emotionally devestating collection I have ever read. Literally, I can only read a few poems in any one sitting before I am overcome and have to put down the book. Ever since hearing about Forrest, I've been reading and rereading these pages again and again.

A sample from the book, written the evening before Jane Kenyon died:

Leaving his place beside her
where her eyes stared, he told her,
"I'll put these letters
in the box." She had not spoken
for three hours, and now Jane said
her last words: "O.K."
At eight that night,
her eyes open as they stayed
until she died, brain-stem breathing
started, he bent to kiss
her pale cool lips again, and felt them
one last time gather
and purse and peck to kiss him back.

If you want more, go to This American Life, find the "Valentine's Day" story and click on the Real Audio icon. Donald Hall's segment is about 40 minutes in, so drag the Real Audio timeline bar to that point.

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