saint crispin's day
December 1, 2002 02:17 PM

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered

We're right in the middle of the nether time of the year. My favorite of the pagan concepts this is, nether-ness. The year ends in October and begins in January.

In between - ghosts.

My ghosts aren't dead; some of them aren't even gone. They're simply - remembered. Ideas of my self, past versions. Ideas of people I knew as much as you can know others. Who would, if these things happened, spring forth out of my head in forms completely unrecognizable to their flesh selves.

Ghosts. If you knew how I remembered you, what would you think?

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition

I remember all the boys I've known mythically. They are warriors and kings. They are brothers. They become the analogies we drew from life to fiction. Our quotidien interactions take on ceremony; their real ceremonies become mysteries.

Perhaps everyone sees this in their ghosts, just as we see it in our chosen families right now. Why else would we love tales of legends? And maybe there's something unique to the constant reader, the geek crew, that looks harder than others for these connections between life and larger than. Maybe this is the appeal of Tolkien and every other mythic fantasy to a certain type of kid, certain adults.

I know I not only see it in my ghosts, I begin to define them by it. The ones who are gone, at least, the ones I don't co-remember. [It's different when memories are shared; you can trust each other to ground them.]

And so. This time of year, I try to list the things I remember, as they were. Not with the qualities I've granted them. And I remember.

A lake. No, two lakes. Being naked, or mostly. Wet, sandy shoes. Bracelets made of white and pink coral, sea green pants.

The beach and the bridge. And the sunrise. Challenging Neptune. Watching you watch the water. The beach and the guitar and the ferry.

Danke. Bitte. Can I come drink with you guys. Pauli Girl. Boone's

Gilliekranke. Brandenberg Concertos. Stars in their multitude. Twenty-one is gonna be a good year.

Glass animals. Glass bunnies. Denny's cheese quesadillas. Coffee, lots of it, coffee ice cream, Marlboro Reds.

And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day

I knew a group of boys in high school, and into college, who were all Hal in various ways. They were, as I was, huge devotees of Shakespeare, of Hank V, of theatre. They were, all of us were, veterans of my school. A band of brothers, and all that (and of course, Henry's speech has taken on legendary significance for all warriors, those of weapons and of art).

And so, since Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving (both Canadian and American) and Crispin's Day (October 25) all fall into this nether-time, talking about veterans made me think of this. Those few, the objects by which I remember them - and others.

The On Display topic this month was Veterans. Crispin was an evangelical Gallic shoemaker, patron saint of cobblers and shoes. And Henry's speech, of course, is Shakespeare's addition to the Battle of Agincourt.

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