The (Almost) Perfect Poet: A Review of "Swan," by Mary Oliver
Along the Path

October. . . and Larry

In the middle of U2's second album, October, released in 1981, the brevity of the title cut stands as a testimony of faith:

51VEZMBJhKL._SL500_AA300_ October and the trees are stripped bare
of all they wear.
What do I care?

October and kingdoms rise
and kingdoms fall
but you go on
and on.

For me the album is like a trip through the Psalms, reflecting a wrestling with faith, God, and others, as well as a resounding affirmation of faith --- much like you find from the Psalmist.  It was against its backdrop that my friend Larry was working out his salvation with fear and trembling.  Larry had graduated from college, took a printing job in town, and lived alone.  I think he was wondering what else there was for him.  Back then --- 29 years ago --- he and I would put this LP on in his tiny apartment and just listen, pausing every now and then to reflect a bit on the words.  Gloria/ In te domine/ Gloria/ Exultate/ Gloria/ Gloria/ Oh, Lord, loosen my lips.  It was exhilarating to hear. Then there's "Rejoice" and its chorus of I can't change the world/ but I can change the world in me/ Rejoice/ Rejoice.  In "Tomorrow," Bono sings Open up. open up, to the lamb of God/ To the love of He/ Who made the blind to see/ He's coming back/ He's coming back/ O believe Him.  But then there's also the angst of "I Threw a Brick Through the Window," a song Larry likely identified with, its My direction, going nowhere, going nowhere/ So I threw a brick through the window.

I worried a bit about Larry.  You see, the last two dates he had he met via the Personals ads in the old Spectator magazine, you know, "25 yr. old SWM looking for intelligent & fun SWF."  There was always history, stories which Larry sometimes shared with me.  In between U2 songs, that is.

29 years ago.  I don't even have a picture of Larry.  I don't know where he is. I don't even remember the last time I saw him.  But when I hear the melancholy strains of October, I think of him. . . and pray.