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,zT.;;Z:;v: because of her very pretty but long and narrow and restrictive brown skirt. Finger-snapping, jazz-loving, Americanized Hildegarde: giving her quick shudders and shakes to express the simple joys. In 1955 she was like a smooth-sailing swan on her calm international lake: womanly serene, but girlishly watching for the sudden, electric, emotional storm that she assumed was bound to come her way upsetting her deft, independent sailing and sweeping her thrillingly into some hidden port of love. She had no doubt it was there somewhere on the horizon that romantic and deliciously consuming storm. She wanted it to descend like a thundercloud from heaven and unleash itself upon her scattering her senses and tearing her heart loose from its moorings and throwing her headlong and panting into its bright lightning and roaring waves. And after the first terrible sweet thunder had rolled over her body she wanted to open her eyes and find Him there. Without words, this prince of Heart-storms, this golden-maned Neptune, would lift her with his marvelously restrained passion and carry her off to his sheltered lagoon. There she would live forever her old poise gone, her independence gladly surrendered. She would mend his sandals, tend his fire, bear his sturdy young. Ah, Hildegarde: her god did not descend from the clouds, but she did manage to get along well enough with a reasonable substitute, a young blond heir to the Krupp munitions fortune. On the day she left New York I went to see her off on the Liberte. Smiling, she sat on the deck of the narrow berth, holding her drink and making conversation with the small group of friends and relatives who had come to wish her a pleasant trip back to Germany. She sat with her smooth, firm legs crossed, the bottom of her skirt slanted artfully across her kneecap. Every now and then she reached up with the little finger of her drink hand and removed a fleck of lipstick from the corner of her mouth and smudged it away into her palm. Red-lipped, clear-eyed, ovalfaced, self-possessed, she gazed into my camera with a cool readiness to be immortalized. Speaking to Trees. Every day I got up and drove to school. I worked steadily, doggedly at the job of being a public school teacher. Then, at five o’clock, my school day over, I walked out toward my car and a sense of emotional devastation. With each step my teacher’s iron mantle slipped from me, disintegrating, so that by the time I had reached the car I was no longer a public person; I was once again privately me. My body was like a huge mouth, tasting gall. I put the key into the door of the car and thought about the long remaining hours ahead before bedtime, and I said it: “I hate my life; I hate the way I live.” And as I drove slowly across the parking lot I did not have a sense of commitment, of connection, of interest or goal, of belonging to anybody or any place. One afternoon I drove up into the countryside of Bulverde and parked beside a field. I sat in my car with the window rolled down. I was 52, alone, desperate. Nothing neither reading, thinking, patiently waiting worked for me any more. I was a stripped nub, with no green vines growing. I looked at the familiar pastureland in the late afternoon light. I spoke to the trees, the rocks, the air. I had nowhere else to turn. It was not like trying to talk to God. Long ago I had stopped calling out to a Force in the world. It was more like an Indian might call out to his brother, the bear. I wanted, I suppose, some sign of kinship from the Created rather than the Creator a recognition of our common fate. “Tell me something,” I said meaning, “I’m lost, I can’t go on.” The small cedar saplings, as if -in response, kept up their enigmatic nodding in the breeze. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23