Watching rivulets forming in the condensed moisture on window panes in autumn-time transports me to an evening in Augsburg, on the Danau, some thirty years ago...
Centuries-old windows framed our view of swans swimming outside the Balkan restaurant on the rippling waters of the Danau. Ancient window panes were beginning to streak with rivulets that formed in the wake of condensing droplets meandering downward.
Augsburg’s four hundred years seemed poised at our beck and call while the ambiance of the ages embraced and charmed us with its many promises; promises that only time could keep...
When window panes begin to weep with autumn’s chilly dew,
I’m taken back through seasons passed to one delight held true,
A rendezvous that time allowed, a gentle evening spent
Amid a time of long discord, when days were dreary bent.
I feel the stretch upon my lips, the smile returns once more.
Again, I smell the Balkan fare prepared on Danau’s shore,
The mood is cast in high regard, the wine is tart and dry,
And Augsburg ripples in the wake as swans go gliding by.
The ancient windows frame our view and day begins to wane
As rivulets meander down and streak each dampened pane.
The ambiance of ages passed beseeched us not to leave
And held us in its warm embrace throughout the ebbing eve.
My heart was scarred, without regard and hardened by the war
But her esteem unveiled its worth, like nothing had before.
She saw the child that once was me, I’d long since cast aside,
And bade he climb astride his mount, engage his life and ride.
Now, she is but a memory, whose kindness soothed my heart,
For we embarked upon our lives on paths ordained to part.
Her subtle way escaped my eye till time had made it clear
That her esteem had set me free, that night I hold so dear.
The poetry that filled my soul remains these many years,
Impassioned in my warmest thoughts when autumn first appears,
When window panes begin to weep, a-glisten with the dew,
And I return to seasons passed, to one delight held true.
Kay and I shared a casual relationship on and off duty while serving at the
U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s field station near Augsburg during the mid-1970’s. We attended many of the same functions and parties. Often, we found one another at various locations when not working. We seemed to have similar interests, except in the romantic arena. Romance was not a factor in our relationship, but not because she wasn’t attractive or deserving. Rather, negative self-esteem and beliefs left me incapable of sustaining my part of any intimate relationship.
Intellectually, however, I felt very much akin to Kay and enjoyed engaging
her in philosophical discussions. It was after we had known each other a few months when a fragmented conversation revealed a mutual interest in poetry. She cultivated an avid interest while attending college and I had been a serious poet for some ten years. Kay saw something in my poetry only there-to-fore seen by a high school english instructor and college professor.
At some point, one of us suggested an evening of wine, dinner, dialog and poetry at the Balkan restaurant in old Augsburg. She confided she had always wanted to “pick the brain of a real poet.” It isn’t clear whether Kay realized it, but my psyche was actually in shambles.
I was obsessed with reconciling the war with my life and still recoiling from scars and 'extra baggage' left by a dysfunctional parent; five years after the fact. The subject of the abuse I experienced during childhood was closed, never discussed; until many years later. So, leaving family and home for the war Vietnam was much like jumping out of the proverbial frying pan into the fire.
The tumult that was my psyche, was my normal state of being. While I was
socially functional, in a superficial sense, I was either oblivious to the fact or in denial that I suffered a mental condition (PTSD). Fortunately, poetry had become a solace, a device that kept me afloat while at risk of drowning in a sea of emotions, self- loathing and ill-conceived conclusions.
At any rate; I was very pleased with Kay’s and my rendezvous by evening’s
end, but had no idea of the significance it would have on the whole of my life. Time came to reveal how she somehow reached inside the shell I’d erected to protect my vulnerabilities and implanted a seed of self-esteem that bore the fruit of love and recovery many years later. Without that seed I would not have known the reality of love in my life. I would not have been able to turn the burden of my emotional baggage into a foundation on which I stand and gather strength. It has made all the difference.
Was she cognizant of the significance of her role that evening? I don’t think so. I believe that autumn evening was simply the convergence of the right people, circumstances, time and possibly, some divine purpose.
"Windowpanes" is my attempt to describe the purity and depth of regard one soul can convey to another just by listening.
© 2016 by Jim Fish
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