I’m thinking of Pat Rahmann. Her death notice was in the Sun-Times yesterday. I had not seen Pat for a couple of years. After she left Glencoe, she moved several times and I lost track of her. The last time we were together Lois Hauselman picked her up and a couple of us joined them and Rochelle Distelheim at the Lucky Platter. Lois is gone and so is Rochelle and now Pat is too. She was an integral and essential member of The Writers and someone I looked up to and admired.
As a co-owner of Books on Vernon, she hosted The Writers on Wednesday mornings for some years. We met in the back of the shop where Writers Theatre also started. Pat played an instrumental role in launching that theater. Pat was witty and charming; I loved to hear her talk—so exact, so precise. She wrote plays as well as fiction and poetry. One piece of writerly advice I remember her saying is how in the theater, tension moves the action on the stage and the same is true for fiction.
Her poem “Last trip together” appears in Solace in So Many Words. When I put out the call for submissions Pat was the first writer to send me something. And years earlier when I needed a letter of recommendation to apply for an artist’s residency, Pat wrote that too. She was generous and gracious. She made you feel important.
Peace, love, and solace
Last Trip Together
At the raw end of winter
they could no longer wait through Spring
to take their melancholy daughter
to some lush summered place
where there was nothing to do
but float through sun-soaked days
or pick fruit in a grove,
unlike their own crisp orchard.
It was dense, so sweet and hot
one could hardly breathe.
The trees—formidable as pregnant Amazons–
hung thick leaves clear to the ground,
hid utterly the heavy fruit.
then sent their only child up
into the dark interior.
Her slim legs (the last part to disappear) thrashed,
found footing, flushed a swallow-tailed butterfly
into bright light.
It lurched through liquid air,
simply drunk on the stuff,
resettled higher up.
They caught the swollen fruit tossed out one at a time
sticky, soiling their hands with black like newsprint
from smudge pots set to protect the trees
through their own hard winter.
“Enough,” they finally called and watched
her emerge, an idealized version of a chimney sweep.
Grinning. Her exhausted face streaked.
© Pat Rahmann