William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Troonk and Hamph

Among other things, in his journal entry for May 25, 1852, Thoreau mentions hearing the first troonk of a bullfrog — a lovely word, although I have for years spelled the sound hamph — this based on my recurring basso profondo imitation of bullfrogs heard while drifting with my father in his twelve-foot aluminum boat down California’s Kings River, in that lazy stretch below the town of Reedley where it runs past the Reedley Cemetery, and is shaded and scented by eucalyptus trees.

Received in today’s mail The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, three volumes in sturdy slipcase, second edition, fourth printing, approximately eighteen hundred pages. My current plan is this: after finishing the second volume of The Letters of Henry Adams, I will begin the Library of America edition of John Muir’s writings; and after finishing The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, I will move on to Vincent’s letters.

Reedley was named after Thomas Law Reed, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and took part in General Sherman’s march from Atlanta to the sea. He died in 1911, and is buried in the cemetery by the river. I have not seen his grave; nor have I seen the grave of my next-door farm neighbor, grade school playmate, and childhood grape-picking partner, Richard Krause, who was my age and died in 2014, and is also buried there. And it is fairly safe to say he has not seen mine. I wonder if I will have one. Certainly there were enough in the Civil War — and in all our other wars — who did not. A grave is not, apparently, a requirement of Nature, or of anybody’s god. But the heart and the memory will always fill that void.

February 10, 2020. Evening.

Categories: Everything and Nothing, New Poems & Pieces

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