By Alastair Reid
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Extra resources for An Alastair Reid Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose
The ground had a thick undergrowth, but I could still feel, at the appropriate distance from the tree as I calculated it, a recognizable hollow, a comfortable sag in the ground. From 1970, five years passed without my coming to the United Statesan unimaginable hiatus, for I had been in this country almost every year, or some part of it, since I first came at the end of the forties. I'm not sure now why that hiatus developed, except that we were more European-minded at the time, and that in London friends Page 28 from New York were always passing through, giving us the illusion of being in touch.
We sold Flist, with many regrets and backward looks, and eventually shifted ourselves to a landscape Page 20 new to both of us. The year was 1969, and the campus teemed and seethed; Kent State lay only two hundred miles away. Heralds came back from Woodstock with dirty, shining faces; no argument that year was less than elemental. At Antioch, we formed friendships that have lasted both vividly and ubiquitously; it was a year of fire, of passionate rethinking. Jasper trudged to a Yellow Springs school, and grew another American self, tempered by occasional nostalgic conversations and leavened by The Whole Earth Catalog, the handbook of the times.
The end of spring was crowned by school sports day, the departure of students; my own work was almost finished. When Jeff left, the suspension in which we had lived all year was broken, Page 26 and we found ourselves back in time. Our lease on Pilmour Cottage would soon be up, and I made plans to go to Spain on the way to Mexico, and once more assembled our worldly goods, dividing what to abandon from what to keep. There were rituals of passage, leave-takings, last walks, backward looks. We had arrived in and gone from places so often, and seen so many people leave, that we were familiar with all the facets of departing.