– simple thoughts & writings &c. by Elizabeth Heimbaugh –

Tag: Prose

When You Were Young

When you were young, in the days before you forgot how to dream, the stars were your guardians and the moon was your friend. Each night, once you were safely tucked into your warm bed, thousands of white and frosted stars would gather to dance upon your windowpane. They called out your name in a lilting voice as pale and shimmering as the moon-glow. But you slept soundly, and never woke; and while you slept, the stars knit you a blanket from lily petals and a nightcap from lily stems, their cold and nimble hands (did you know that stars have hands?) fluttering about without a sound. Then, their work done, they laid the blanket over your bed and set the nightcap atop your head, and you were cloaked in a glory of white.

Who can describe what the stars did then? It is too strange, too marvelous to tell how their voices came together in one, great, quivering nova of sound—more beautiful than David’s harp or the pauper’s lute—and sang you lullabies about distant lands and the moon. Oh! in these night-songs the stars brought you to the sands of Arabia and the mountains of Tibet; dressed you in silks and made you to dine with kings. They saw the longing for adventure that was in your heart—the courage, too—and christened you a voyager on their travels to the sublime. You went, I think, with a willing spirit, even as you slept.

Then, in those days, dawn would show her rosy face and interrupt the darkness of your room. The stars, like shy night-visitors, withdrew from your bedside and disappeared, in quiet flickers, out the window whence they came. Soon you began to stir, yawning and stretching your arms above your head. In the moment before your senses returned, before you opened your eyes, you thought dreamily that the room smelled a little of lilies; you heard a peculiar song hanging, just barely, in the air. You wanted to keep these discoveries, to stay with them and find out what they meant, but the voice of your mother broke through the door, calling you to get ready for school. You ate your breakfast and dressed, beginning to think of other things; and you would have forgotten it all, but that, as you were brushing your hair before the mirror, a thin green stem tumbled down and landed on your chest. Your reflection glittered in the mirror, your face as pale as the moon.

The Entertaining Adventures

… of MR. CAP and mr. low: Part One.

Along with a miscellany of other stories and songs to round out your listening hour. Read the rest of this entry »

How Many Roads

… must a man walk down?

Phrases for the moment:

  1. … and don’t fall so madly in love with the night that you lose your way! (Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice)
  2. I always play Russian Roulette in my head; it’s seventeen black and twenty-nine red (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Tom Waits)
  3. For the man who is beautiful is beautiful to see / but the good man will at once also beautiful be. (Fragment 50, Sappho)
  4. La lune était sereine et jourait sur les flots. (“Clair de lune,” Victor Hugo)
  5. Le Bonheur a marché côte à côte avec moi. (“Nevermore,” Paul Verlaine)
  6. You’d never know it, but buddy, I’m a kind of poet, and I got a lot of things to say (Johnny Mercer/Frank Sinatra)


There was a boy once – his name I have forgotten by now, but it was a good Christian name, I do recall – and this is his story, or some shadow of it. I never did meet him in the flesh, for his story came to me through the whisperings of an acquaintance, but I feel him as strongly set down in my consciousness as any one of my lost loves or childhood friends. If I can do him some small justice in the telling of his story, my heart will be fulfilled, though I must confess that my doubts are severe, for I do not know how any hand, let alone one as weak as my own, can ever be quite lovely enough.


Scat! scat! the people flee
a robber at the corner store!
he pulls a gun and waves a sack
(the flighted ones: alack! alack!)
the counter-boy whose nerves are frayed
strikes the tin, a scare parade :
NO SALE NO SALE oh sell the lot!
a robber come to swipe the pot
of copper coins and bottletops :
the radio is buzzing bops
out static FM waves :
sing the blues boy sing the blues . . .
the world broke in dancing shoes :
the churchyard bells are ringing four
the robber walking out the door.


The sound of the nighttime alleyway cat is giving her pause, the woman so fat and so gray in the heat of the narrow gray place, beneath the sky, the black-bat sky.

Oh, what if I perish, I’ll die! thinks the woman, I’ll die and I’ll sigh – oh, dying and sighing are scarcely a fate to live or lie by tonight.

The cat moves as a shadow, quick and light, and the woman so gray is crying for fright – above, the stars are rocks in the sky: they might fall upon me! they might, oh, they might!


You have not remembered to remember me all this time,
but in your forgetting, my recollection grows all the clearer.


I was glad to hear your name in passing on the busy street;
while I walked, the leaves blew to the melodious sound!


Bells in the field
Ringing out the yield
Heigh-ho fi-fo
Fum fum fum

O hear the bells bells bells
Fear the bells bells bells
Heigh-ho fi-fo
Fum fum fum


Little one, you’ll soon be fine
I’m gonna give this heart of mine
To cure your fears, now wipe your tears
I say, you’ll soon be fine


“How was your evening yesterday?”
“Very lousy, as usual.”


Mirabel buttoned the top button of her woolen coat and stepped lightly out the door into the falling snow. It was the coldest day of the year and not many people would be about, but the solitude of the occasion was precisely the thing that stirred Mirabel’s heart. She wended down the white road and when a bird flew overhead against the thin grey sky, she would stop, wave a mitten at him, and then continue on her way. The road had a narrow path for walking, for the snow had not fallen too thick through the night, and the narrowness of the path contrasted with the wideness of the sky, but yet they ran parallel, the road and the sky, one always looking at the other and continuing on, on, on.

Mirabel was not aware of the passing of time, only of the heaviness or lightness of her feet, and so long as her boots could carry her one step after another with no pang to the heel, she would proceed with her walking. She did not think any thoughts in particular, but when she passed by a flagpole, she sang a song of her country; and when she passed by a nest in a tree, she sang of a bluebird; and when she passed by a mailbox, she sang of a faraway friend; and so on and so forth in this way. She had a pretty little soprano voice, clear and straight in the winter air. If she did not know the words, she hummed, and her humming was even prettier than her singing, for the sound came from deeper down, and it buzzed with the joy of saying something without ever parting the lips.


After giving his heart,
He wanders by the pond
And throws a stone:
Look how it sinks to the depths –
If I stepped, I would fall still faster!


Gentle night
Empty swallow’s nest
I gaze long and sigh


On the small bank
A girl is smelling flowers
One by one

Call a Somnambulance!

Words from a fairly sleepless night. Read the rest of this entry »