“but always the impact has hurt for want of complete expression.” (J. Gardener)

Rosenberg Archive
Past issues of Forum magazine can be found at CCSF’s Louise & Claude Rosenberg, Jr. Library, R335 (Archives).

Rapture in Retrospect

by J. Gardener

I remember vividly my first inkling of beauty. I can recall, now, the sensation of being too small to hold that surge which seemed ready to burst my seven-year-old boundaries. I remember, too, the overwhelming melancholy that arose with it; the desperate feeling that this thing was too big for me, that is must be shared; and the hopeless certainty that sharing was impossible.

There was a strangeness in the air that afternoon. It was hot and still with the ominous tension that foreboded a thunder storm. I had been to the library and had found “The Dutch Twins.” Although I walked home under shade trees all the way, I could see the heat shimmering in little waves in the middle of the street. It seemed as though I were all alone in an inferno of giants, for the trees and houses looked tremendous. A titillating dread sent delicious shivers through me as I scurried onward. By the time the downpour started, I was home and lost in my book, oblivious to everything.

Then it happened! With a start, I looked up from my reading. I saw that it had been raining, and now the rain had stopped. Although I hadn’t been conscious of the storm, this sudden silence brought me out of my book. I looked out of the window on a new,  washed world. The grass was incredibly green. The sun was glinting in myriad drops that were falling from the trees, the roof, and the frame of my window. This was not my familiar world.

As one bewitched, I opened the window and leaned on the wet sill. I remember the smell of this new world. It was acrid with the dust beaten down in the carriage drive: it was sweet with fresh-cut grass; it was a smell of newness that seeped into my being.

I know, now, that it was beauty which held me in thrall, but at that time I had no idea of what affected me. The spell lay on me for a long while. I cannot remember being called to my dinner; I cannot remember going to bed. This same experience has met me several times since then, but always the impact has hurt for want of complete expression.

“Rapture in Retrospect,” by J. Gardener originally published in Forum (1945, City College of San Francisco).

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