That was another lifetime. On Sherbourne Road in Detroit, Michigan. We were living there in the aftermath of the so-called Detroit riot of July, 1967–gunshots and looting only two blocks away, on Livernois Avenue, a nightmare cacophony of fire engines, police sirens, random shouts and cries, National Guardsmen with rifles, the acrid smell of smoke, smoldering fires that lingered for days–this “racial tinderbox” of an American city, which was also our home.
Memory pools accumulate beneath chairs in the waiting areas adjacent to Telemetry. It may be that actual tears have stained the tile or soaked into the carpets of such places. Everywhere, the odor of melancholy that is the very center of memory.
Nowhere in a hospital can you walk without wandering into the memory pools of strangers–their dread of what was imminent in their lives, the wild elation of their hopes, their sudden terrible and irrefutable knowledge. You do not wish to hear the echoes of their whispered exchanges: But he was looking so well yesterday! What has happened to him overnight? You do not wish to blunder into another’s sorrow. You will have all that you can do to resist your own.