Peggy will be ninety-nine on Saturday. We've been together for the past thirty-six years and I'm still trying to find out how she manages to not act her age. In fact, she is of no age. The irrepressible and capacious woman I knew in 1984 is undiminished. Every morning a poem, a creative burst; every moment an enthused, welcoming and loving woman.
What I have witnessed is her risk-taking, pondering the edge of elsewhere, that elusive unknown as well as the unseen ordinary most of us are blind to. Yet, at the same time, she truly lives in the present, not mourning over the past or anticipating or rehearsing bad news. She trusts in her own resources to save the day.
Her three novels, six books of poetry and over a hundred construction boxes are the product of an engagement with the world, a sensibility that issues from a way of meeting life. Her poetry is an affirmation of being alive just as her nature affirms that Yes even after the final No. If she never wrote another line she would remain a poet in her being. She seeks and she finds like nobody I have ever known.
Early on I was recipient of her remarkable gift. One Sunday afternoon we were driving around Santa Monica. Peggy was enthusing over one of her favorite books by the naturalist, Aldo Leopold, called Sand County Almanac. She spotted a sign for a yard sale and suggested we stop and look to see if they had that book. Some chance, I thought to myself, as if there had been only eleven books ever written. But sure enough, there it was. Could it be Peggy possessed some alchemical power to make the book appear by the force of her nature?
And so it has been. Unlikely things happen because she offers a wide and constant reception. There are nuggets in the sludge. Overheard conversations in the next booth. Weedy things, pods, fallen leaves taken in, deserving of another life in a vase or her Commonplace book.
Something is happening every day in its quiet or its clamor. Peggy is also happening, discovering connective tissue and reconfiguring the shards in this dissonant, disparate life. She breathes life into the inanimate and suddenly her words sing off the page. Her process of creativity is also her presence in relationship.
Peggy finds what is lost; she was orphaned at eight and found (rescued) by her aunt and later by an uncle. To be met is her pattern. Nearly a century of meeting this world as it reveals itself in its dailiness made momentous and numinous.
Life gives us moments, says the poet, and for these moments we give our lives. Peggy's life is comprised of such moments. With serious noticing she pauses and with a gust of wind her carpet is made buoyant by the exhalation of her spirit.