My sister brought along a book about the poet Richard Hugo, which led to reading trails about his teacher and an essay about his “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg.”
Here is a link to this penetrating poem about a decaying Montana mining town. It begins:
“You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down.”
The teacher was Theodore Roethke at the University of Washington, a poet my father read to me as a child and who I continue to read. The book that Hope brought with her from Montana is “The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs,” by Frances McCue, and the book mentions an essay about the Hugo poem by Charles D’Ambrosio, who also has Seattle and Philipsburg connections. My free time yesterday was pretty much set when I discovered the essay is included in a D’Ambrosio collection I just bought, called “Loitering.”
It’s been fun reading through this, and Hugo’s poem, which I had not read before, is still filling my head.
But it also gives me an excuse to post this picture of my nephew, Will, taking over my lamp and chair last night and reading his Harry Potter before going to bed.