Friday, April 18, 2014

An Evening with the Elusive Russian

Mr. Meschery looks just the same,
I think it's all of us who have grown old.

Mr. Meschery in Truckee, reading from his
latest book, Sweat.
     Friend and fellow writer Christoph Weber and I had the pleasure of attending Tom Meschery's (Mr. Meschery as he was known to so many Reno High School seniors) poetry reading at the Truckee Bookshelf last Thursday. We agreed that we didn't realize how much the sound of his voice--his booming baritone and grandiose presence--had permeated our brains until we were reacquainted with it.

Meschery read many poems and interjected all the details between and behind his work. As his English and Creative Writing student as well as his class aide, I'd heard so much about his family, a little about Russia, but never much about basketball and his love for sports. As the retired athlete sat in the fold out chair, his knees reached the top of the table. He talked about coaching in West Africa and his first coach's instructions to "spit on it" to cure an injury. He read poems about why he never played hockey, his disdain for Kobe Bryant and his advice on how to fill out the NCAA bracket.

     I was happy to see such a full house, a great turn out in the town Tom once called home. He had opened a coffeeshop in Truckee and shared memories of raising his children here. People milled about and waited for the poet to sign copies of his book.

     When we shook his hand, Meschery admitted to having forgotten our names, but told us exactly where we sat in his classroom in O Hall. He shared with us a goal he's had since retirement-- to dig up all of his old seating charts and match each name with the faces he photocopied from every senior class spread in every ReWaNe yearbook. (For those of you in the class of 2005, I did ask about our individualized future projections, and they do exist, although they are somewhere in the stacks of his old memories and we'll have to bombard him with emails to dredge them up).

     All in all, Mr. Meschery looked great, just the same. He made us laugh and feel at ease and he shared his whole self with everyone in the room. What a pleasure to again see such an icon from our past. His at once gigantic presence and tender words reminded me: "Do not go gentle into that good night."

1 comment:

  1. excellent story....hope this one went into the Truckee paper as well. Love mom