Amy Kermeth was a retired teacher from New York state who had been head of the lower school at the Albany Academy for Boys and who taught ancient history in the upper school. When Amy retired, she moved to Sonoma, California. I was librarian at the high school there. Amy volunteered in the library helping students with writing projects. Because she met her students in a small conference room in the library, we got acquainted and became good friends.
Amy’s sight was failing and, as time went on, she became blind. I began reading to her in her home on Wednesday afternoons over tea. I read from books we chose or from collections of poetry. Often I read letters from her sister, her niece, and her friends. I became a member of her family and of her circle of friends. A highlight of the time we shared was the arrival of the Albany Academy’s news paper, The Fish & Pumpkin, or the F & P, as Amy called it.
Amy read voraciously and she loved poetry. Her mind held a reservoir of poetry she could quote to fit just about any situation or occasion. Amy introduced me to a more exciting world of poetry than I had known. It was she who introduced me to Wendell Corey Johnson’s (1823-1892) “Heraclitus.”
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.
Amy and I “tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky many times.” Though she has been gone for years, Amy’s pleasant voice, her “nightingales,” are still awake.