Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Good morning,

The week has roller-coastered to a close, coincidental with yet another anniversary of what might have been.  I live my life stepping from one slippery stone to the next, surrounded by waters sometimes  raging, sometimes soothing. Wild and gorgeous vegetation rises above me cast against a wide sky, in which clouds gather at times; but which at times shudders with the beauty of its blueness.  Small creatures skitter on the banks, and I'm not sure if their chatter warns me of danger or spurs me to continue.  Or both.  I move forward nonetheless.  Only recently have I realized that the stones lead not to the other side of the river but forward, perhaps to a broad beckoning ocean, perhaps to paradise, perhaps to a plunging waterfall.

Over the last few weeks, I've been corresponding with several St. Louis University staff members.  I'm trying to track down a copy of an issue of Eads Bridge, a literary review from SLU's past in which several of my poems appeared, in 1978 or 1979, during my failed attempt to get a PhD.  (In my defense, I did not fail; the program lost its funding and I remain, to this day, ABD.)  I've talked online with a resource librarian and traded e-mails with the professor who supervised the student staff of the magazine.  I learned that SLU cancelled the publication to save its $1,500.00 annual budget, a fact I found astonishing.  The professor searched his old files but could not find issues from the years in question, though he appreciated hearing from me and I shared his pleasure in the exchange.

The librarian referred me to the school archivist, John Waide.  Mr. Waide identified himself as a fellow SLU alum -- though a few years after my December 1976 graduation, but smack dab in the middle of my grad school days there.  He, too, had some issues of the old publication but not from my era.  Intrigued, I suppose, or maybe just courteous, Mr. Waide has now reached out to someone in the English Department and asked them to transfer all remaining copies of Eads Bridge to his archives, for inventory, cataloging, and search to see if my name appears in any still in existence.

All of this made possible with a few keystrokes and a casual review of the SLU website, fueled by unwavering sparks of human kindness at the other end of those stepping stones between Kansas City and St. Louis.

Yesterday, at the end of a brutal week, I visited a client of mine at the foster home where she lives.  Fifteen, mother of an eight-month old, daughter of a woman with some as yet  unidentified mental illness, half-sister to two little girls who look to her for their suppers and bath-times.  I talked to her about the hearing which will be held on Tuesday, of the offer from the Juvenile Officer's attorney.  She just wants to know when she can go home, when she can have her baby back.  I spoke to her of the future, and how hard it is to finish high school, go to college, get a job, with a toddler clinging to one's skirts.  Not that I know; not that the young people of today wear skirts.  I confessed to her that I didn't have a child until I was 36 and practicing law; that I hadn't a clue what she must be feeling; but I told her, in the strongest of terms and gentlest of voices, that I knew for certain that life is difficult enough without adding the sorts of complications she now faced.

I drove home, on the phone with a friend, who'd called on learning by e-mail of some of my more gnarly problems from this week.  Are you having a better week than I am? I asked him.  He admitted that he was, and said, But when I have bad weeks, all I can do is laugh.  Just laugh.  I parked my car in front of my house, and listened to this advice.  Laugh.  I thought about the last thing my client had asked me:  Do you think you could get them to let me go to the park with my baby and my best friend Atlanta and her baby? In other words:  Girls just wanna have fun.  To laugh.

I stepped out of the car, still talking to my friend.  I locked the car securely, since one of the week's debacles was the theft of my car keys and the computer from my car.  I'm still not sure how it happened; I have a vague memory of being jostled by a passerby on the sidewalk in front of my building.  It must have happened then.  I'm lucky the guy didn't steal my car.  So now I'm locking it securely with a key until the fob can be replaced, and tucking the key in my purse before I move away from the vehicle, so I know where everything is, before I move to the next stepping stone, and the next bend in the river.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.