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January 2014, vol 9, no 4

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Steven Carter

Unstrung Harp

The other day, in a moment of enforced idleness (sometimes I have to discipline myself not to write) I went online and looked up our house at 1420 Hearst in Berkeley, discovering that it was built in 1897! —Only six years after the deaths of Melville and Whitman, seven after St. Vincent Van Gogh’s—

Over the years, how many occupants did the walls of 1420 Hearst eavesdrop on (we moved there in 1962; my brother and I left after our mother died in November ’65)? How many ghosts? How many stirrings in the cold fireplaces of nightmare? How many—

—Whispers? Nope, just elm leaves, time machines transporting me back to afternoons of an eternal childhood when, accompanied by wind-storms off San Francisco Bay, a harp of leaves and branches sang to me.

—genuflecting        our ancient backyard fence