In the Cathedral: Images & Confessions


I recently found back something I thought lost for ten years – a collection of poems from my youth, paper copies of my earliest work, when ideas and imagination went merrily unchecked, until at some point they were fewer and fewer between. My brother had scrapped my ancient computer for me, and drilled holes through all the floppy discs to ensure that nothing could be found.

When my love died and I moved, this had been carelessly thrown into the bottom of a box of assorted old but necessary papers, taxes and the like. I was devastated thinking this had been lost.

Sharing it, as a way of rekindling creativity.


Before we move on to the next 18 years, I want to tell you about Mrs. Beattie.  She was an English teacher in high school, and out of the few strange things I have taken as path markers in my life, is an essay I did for her class.  

She was normally very liberal with the use of red pens, perhaps filled with the blood of crushed students before me; however, this particular paper though now slightly yellowed is unmarked, except for the grade (A) and a single comment:  “you are too young to be this bitter.”

I stopped after the class and brought the paper to her desk.  “I have a problem with this.”

She looked at me sternly; she excelled at stern.  “I gave you an ‘A’.  The paper was well-written.”

“The comment.  You’re wrong.”

She laughed.  “Well, you are far too young to be so bitter and…”

She stopped as I looked her straight in the eyes, and let everything that lay hidden beneath the bedskirt of life look out.

In the moment of rising from her chair: she sits down heavily dropping pen and papers to her desk; one hand flying to her mouth were the laughter is gone, replaced by horror; the other hand starting to reach out towards me but stopping.

Then I blinked, put the happy face back on and take a step back.  Once more I softly said,”You’re wrong.”  And then I left.

Her quiet sob gains response by another teacher in the hall, but I still hear part of their faint conversation.  “Oh my God, Judy, that poor child!”

I remember being jealous that she could get comfort, and I just had to go home.