A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
In a few hours, I’ll have to go the university’s extension in southern Illinois. I have to leave before four, to beat the early traffic across the bridge. (One bridge is down for repair, thus complicating matters.) It’s a forty minute drive, but I always enjoy it. I love the view of downtown.
For as much as I wanted to get away from my home when I was young, I’ve learned to love the intimacy I now feel for the place. When I drive to Illinois, I pass a Catholic cemetery, where my immediate family is buried, and where I will be buried. (By pure chance, my wife Phoebe’s family plot is barely 100 or so yards from my family’s plot. When I was a boy, my grandfather always pointed out how, even here, folks were separated by nationality. “The Italians are over there”, he’d say, little realizing that he was pointing to my future in-laws. Since we are German-Irish, I guess we were in the mixed race section.) Then I pass another cemetery, where members of my extended family have been buried for 200 years. I drive through Ferguson, much in the news these days. Then I pass the Arch, perhaps America’s greatest piece of abstract sculpture or at least the biggest. I cross the Stan Musial Bridge, and often reflect on how I saw The Man in 1963 take his last swing, a single. Hit # 3,630, 1,815 away. One of the greatest players to ever grace a jock strap. I then enter southern Illinois, into the state senatorial district where one of my ancestors, John Hinchcliff (another John for whom I am named), a lawyer and newspaper editor, became known as “the friend of the coal miners”. I love this place, and love being in it.
Copyright 2015 John Samuel Tieman