Last year, a co-worker and friend of mine, who some of you know from her involvement with Brevitas poets, Sue Machlin, died in a car accident. I saw her at the job the day before the accident. She came in singing, If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake.
If I knew that would be the last time I’d see her, I don’t know that anything would have been different except that I would’ve started mourning while she was still here. That’s not good for anyone. Sue’s beautiful family gave us all an opportunity to speak a bit in celebration of her life at a memorial they held for Sue.
I find all of this very difficult. Very, very. Then a half year later, another person who was special to me passed on. Then an aunt of mine and I wasn’t even told where and when the funeral would be. Troubled family history. Very, very. Now two more relatives don’t seem to have long here. All this is to say that on top of all the reasons I normally struggle inside, these were more, and some areas of my life just didn’t get attention. This blog was one.
I did continue writing and going to readings here and there. Blogs to come. At the job, I started up a newsletter in honor of Sue in ways — she was the first to attempt an in-house newsletter so that we may share our creative endeavors outside of teaching and support each other. With Sue in mind, it is named Many Hats.
On the last day I saw her, she gave me a book, Out of the Box, cartoons by Ken Machlin. She hoped I’d talk about it here on my blog. She told me that the author, her son, intended for the book to be read from the beginning to the end and not just poking around as we tend to do with cartoon books. She said that she and her husband, who love Ken, read it as he hoped it would be read. I told her, “I will too.”
And I will. It is the next book I will read. I never forgot our conversations. I didn’t forget my promise. It took me over a year to address it. Sometimes, I am so heavy with sadness, it is hard to get in motion (not counting the motion involved in running from the sad).
I met Sue at an educational program for adults. She taught English as a Second Language. Her students loved having Sue for their teacher. I was not her ESL student, but from what I could see and hear, she created joy and developed creativity. That, unfortunately, is not common enough. Some years ago, Sue contributed this to a teacher’s publication:
By Sue Machlin
On the way to
my writing class
I saw a man washing the white
tile wall of the 28th Street
Kumbaya, boys, Kumbaya
di da da da da da da
When the train came
I left him
wondering. . .
and whistling. . .
and wrote it in
my journal to
with the class
and show them
how one can find
Now that I’m back, readers, I will be regularly blogging about the NYC poetry scene again. Thank you for your loyalty.