4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

A Memory of Manaus

Catharine Savage Brosman
Catharine Savage Brosman
  • — For Loren and Janie Slye
  • We’ve come by boat upriver some nine hundred miles
  • along the Amazon, and reached its origins,
  • the meeting of the Solimões and Negro waters, confluent
  • but not commingled, flowing for some distance
  • side by side, in brown and black. This is the very heart
  • of Amazonia. Sailing upstream, the ship acquired
  • at the bow a massive trophy — a floating tree, still leafy,
  • and pushed it into port. We’ve got three days to tour
  • on shore. Some travelers have lunch or dine, some shop,
  • some hire cabs to drive them round the city.
  • I’m taken one day to a smart resort, with golf course,
  • fashionable stores, a zoo. Another morning, Loren
  • gets a cab to hold all four of us. We visit the cathedral,
  • then the historic opera house, “Teatro Amazonas,”
  • modeled after those in France and Germany.
  • The “Rubber Barons” built it, with Palladian façade
  • and tympanum, and stately dome. In glass cases,
  • mannequins display the heavy gowns and capes worn
  • by touring singers in their celebrated roles. The marble,
  • woodwork, crystal all have been restored, with taste.
  • To inspect the balconies, I climb the stairs with Loren.
  • Private boxes draw my eye. Here’s the governor’s!
  • Oh my, the man lived well, no doubt, loved well,
  • maybe. The whole design takes me back to Paris. Pat
  • cannot do the steps; but later, as a group of visitors
  • is guided through the hall, he follows them,
  • admires the ceiling, tests (sotto voce) the acoustics,
  • then breaks out in song — a famous aria from Rigoletto.
  • How appropriate. He gets compliments from tourists;
  • I am proud. We say goodbye, departing through
  • the coffee bar. Outside, Janie walks beside him. She
  • works out; she’s muscular. A Proustian moment, then,
  • almost: Pat stumbles on uneven paving stones. What
  • he recalls, though, isn’t Venice, but his dreadful fall
  • last year, when someone helping him let go:
  • deep purple bruises on his side, back, legs, deep pain. —
  • He sways. I see and hear him; I am steps away.
  • Before he knows it, Janie has his arm, holding on
  • for his dear life, and he does not go down; he rights
  • himself, stabbing with his cane. Perhaps, however,
  • he was, after all, moved by art and style and happiness —
  • that glorious nineteenth-century opera in a jungle city,
  • his thoughts of Verdi and the duke and tragic Gilda,
  • and his own voice resonating, strong, despite
  • his weakened heart. We find a taxi to the port;
  • Pat gets himself on board, lurching a bit. He’ll bear
  • insignia where Janie’s fingers left their mark —
  • tokens of travel, music, friendship, and great age.

Catharine Savage Brosman, who lives in Houston, is professor emerita of French at Tulane University, where she taught for nearly three decades, and honorary research professor at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is the author or editor of 19 scholarly volumes on French or American literature, and she has published two volumes of personal essays and ten collections of poetry, including Range of Light, devoted to the American West and, most recently, On the Old Plaza (2014). She is the poetry editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Bob McPhail wrote about illnesses, finally dies of them

With Reader from 1987 to 2018
Catharine Savage Brosman
Catharine Savage Brosman
  • — For Loren and Janie Slye
  • We’ve come by boat upriver some nine hundred miles
  • along the Amazon, and reached its origins,
  • the meeting of the Solimões and Negro waters, confluent
  • but not commingled, flowing for some distance
  • side by side, in brown and black. This is the very heart
  • of Amazonia. Sailing upstream, the ship acquired
  • at the bow a massive trophy — a floating tree, still leafy,
  • and pushed it into port. We’ve got three days to tour
  • on shore. Some travelers have lunch or dine, some shop,
  • some hire cabs to drive them round the city.
  • I’m taken one day to a smart resort, with golf course,
  • fashionable stores, a zoo. Another morning, Loren
  • gets a cab to hold all four of us. We visit the cathedral,
  • then the historic opera house, “Teatro Amazonas,”
  • modeled after those in France and Germany.
  • The “Rubber Barons” built it, with Palladian façade
  • and tympanum, and stately dome. In glass cases,
  • mannequins display the heavy gowns and capes worn
  • by touring singers in their celebrated roles. The marble,
  • woodwork, crystal all have been restored, with taste.
  • To inspect the balconies, I climb the stairs with Loren.
  • Private boxes draw my eye. Here’s the governor’s!
  • Oh my, the man lived well, no doubt, loved well,
  • maybe. The whole design takes me back to Paris. Pat
  • cannot do the steps; but later, as a group of visitors
  • is guided through the hall, he follows them,
  • admires the ceiling, tests (sotto voce) the acoustics,
  • then breaks out in song — a famous aria from Rigoletto.
  • How appropriate. He gets compliments from tourists;
  • I am proud. We say goodbye, departing through
  • the coffee bar. Outside, Janie walks beside him. She
  • works out; she’s muscular. A Proustian moment, then,
  • almost: Pat stumbles on uneven paving stones. What
  • he recalls, though, isn’t Venice, but his dreadful fall
  • last year, when someone helping him let go:
  • deep purple bruises on his side, back, legs, deep pain. —
  • He sways. I see and hear him; I am steps away.
  • Before he knows it, Janie has his arm, holding on
  • for his dear life, and he does not go down; he rights
  • himself, stabbing with his cane. Perhaps, however,
  • he was, after all, moved by art and style and happiness —
  • that glorious nineteenth-century opera in a jungle city,
  • his thoughts of Verdi and the duke and tragic Gilda,
  • and his own voice resonating, strong, despite
  • his weakened heart. We find a taxi to the port;
  • Pat gets himself on board, lurching a bit. He’ll bear
  • insignia where Janie’s fingers left their mark —
  • tokens of travel, music, friendship, and great age.

Catharine Savage Brosman, who lives in Houston, is professor emerita of French at Tulane University, where she taught for nearly three decades, and honorary research professor at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is the author or editor of 19 scholarly volumes on French or American literature, and she has published two volumes of personal essays and ten collections of poetry, including Range of Light, devoted to the American West and, most recently, On the Old Plaza (2014). She is the poetry editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Yoda Code

“Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they.”
Next Article

Truck drivers at U.S. border lose visas because of stowaways

Customs tells them to come back in 11 months
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close