1961 at George Sand’s House; The Story
1961 at George Sand’s House
It was sunny outside, sunny indoors.
And were we indoors or outside
when we saw Chopin’s bed?
My father asked if it were a child’s
and the guide said no it was Chopin’s!
We were in France, in Nohant,
and there were sky-blue highlights on the shutters,
under trees or in a big bare room,
after years of dankness and cold
in Scotland, land of the Old Alliance,
plated on our Triumph’s bumper
which we had been encouraged to put there,
GB and Ecosse. In villages especially
children showed us V for Victory fingers
as we drove through.
An elder in our father’s church
told us he’d seen most of France from a tank.
And we had no French, but did our best,
at the villa of the writer who called herself George Sand,
and at the bedside of a tiny man
who meant something grand,
who must have felt the sun of this place
exfoliate illness that consumed him.
The shadows smelled of heat and trees,
but outside or inside, which was it?
We had escaped from the linoleum cold,
the factory grip of stench and dampness
in that gray grim firth town.
And for us, the children, since we had forgotten
the California we were from,
France was a leaf extended like an offering.
And now I can see Chopin’s bed
against a light blue plaster wall,
indoors where memory resides
in a clear sunlit place where we stood.
And there is my mother, too,
off by herself, in shadows, absorbed
as her third child kicks inside her.
I have heard a voice telling a story.
I think it is the story of listening.
It is the story of the voice itself,
The voice that is also listening.
I am the way you are living your life,
The voice keeps saying all day.
It is a soft, recessive voice.
Is it true that I listen all day?
Easy to ignore, easy to heed,
But what is it saying? It is saying
You know you believe what I’m telling you.
You know what I’m saying.
The voice keeps telling the story.
It’s a true story that goes like this,
One day a voice began telling a story,
And I began to listen.