John Wilde asks “What do you see?”

I see your Wisconsin wonderland in winter’s twilight.

A glow hovers above the low-rolling land, pressed down by wind and cold and tractor tire with too few trees to shield you each. Your love is splayed against a gray matte under glass, wings pinned back, too cold to flutter. And then I see the spring and summer, the buds and buzz of all the little creatures who stood up to revolt against the dark months –– because we all crawl back in due time, we do, we do. The rot of life was present, yes, and it was overcome.

Time is moving in circles for you here now. This night may as well be morning and this year, a bold dash at the precise center of our final physical century, may just as well be 1943. You, alert and somewhat anxious in this gregarious post-war slumber, drink tea in the front room and reminisce on seven years gone.

Where is that sketch you made of Helen in the night?

“Ah yes, here it is. Here it is.”

When and where was this then?

“Ah,” you say, “let me tell you.”

This was the middle bit of the beginning of your adventure together. The two of you stayed warm by dancing at Gertrude’s. Once off your feet, you leaned forward, sighed, and returned as ever to the not so distant war: a brutal tiger in Marseille, Woollcott’s heart, the shoe ration, those dreaded U-boats and the crush at Bethnal Green. You found relief by musing over Saint-Exupéry’s prince and Wyler’s Oscar grab, then shuddered again at Murrow’s Orchestrated Hell.

“This will all be ok in the end,” you said in fervent consolation. “This too, this too.”

You lifted her hand, her coat, her scarf, made your goodbyes, then grabbed your own jacket and out you went. You two. The white gravel crunched under foot as you opened her door, then sidled around to yours. That ole’ moonshiner coupe coughed back to life and at last you were homeward bound. She counted breaths between the trees while you counted branches as they crossed the moon. One, two, three, another there, and one there. “Now don’t drift off, dear,” she said. “Of course not,” you said, “but the night!”

Meanwhile, Duke Ellington smiled coyly in the wings mere minutes after his Carnegie Hall debut, ears turned inward to early sketches of new work –– Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me perhaps?

I see new love and fortitude. “That’s what I see,” says she.