leaving me upright

"But the thought I liked most was that I would have a wife. In the spring of my second year of high school, a copper-haired girl named N. (for Nan) O'Callahan and I stepped into the shadow of the spirea bushes by the library and had given each other a kiss that was the strongest thing that had happened to me since Aunt Cordie died and I came to The Good Shepherd. It was as if the world, leaving me upright, had turned itself upside down above my head and poured over me rivers and oceans of warm water. After that, it was clear to me that if I became a preacher I was going to need a wife. And so I imagined a wife with red hair like Nan O'Callahan's. When I began to imagine her, I ceased entirely to imagine the nice town and the church and the congregation and the reading of books. I imagined my wife and me coming home from the grocery store late in the afternoon, our arms loaded with sacks of groceries-for at The Good Shepherd we were always a little hungry. I imagined us sitting at our kitchen table, eating a big supper that always ended with a cherry pie like Aunt Cordie used to make, with sugar glazed on the strips of the top crust...

And Nan O'Callahan? She was gone long before I was. Our kiss in the shadow of the spirea was, in fact, a farewell kiss. She was going away to live with some relatives she didn't know, and she didn't want to leave without a trace. She wanted to think that somebody would miss her. And so that kiss passed between us, that moment of my sudden immersion in her welcoming warmth, living moisture, and good smell."

-Wendell Berry, "Jayber Crow"


achilles3 said...

love this!
raised my spirits on a rainy monday morn