I first met David in January of 1972. I had graduated from Davis the preceding June and had moved back to Sonoma County sometime in November, after failing to enjoy a Tahoe autumn where the temperature hit 26 below. The only thing that was holding me together, if I was indeed whole, was my writing; but I needed an outlet, so I went to Sonoma State to see if there was a place I could read my poetry. After a short search, I heard about David's poetry writing class and so I went and explained my situation and that I was not a (registered) student and David said, "No problem. I'm sure there'll be some empty seats, take one of those." David has always been generous and inclusive with me, and FUN. He allowed me to show up at his writing class for three semesters until I moved to San Francisco. We kept in touch, although during some periods not as well as during others. I got to meet Cecelia and Chris and Margaret and to think of you as friends. I got to go to a lot of parties after David's readings which I probably never would have been invited to otherwise. I am grateful I've met several poets and friends through David.
I am so grateful that I was able to see David regularly these last few years. It is Thursday as I write this. I cherished my Thursdays at One-ish with David. We would go to Coffee Cats and I got to read his weekly installments of his memoirs, 'Til There Was You. He would read my prose and remark or play off of something I said. He finished his first draft, even getting to go to Africa at the end, which he never did. "Well, I always wanted to, there's some poetic reality to that!" he said, laughing. Later, I read to him from the Duncan-Levertov correspondence. I didn't know Robert had been the one who had advised David to go to Berkeley when he received a scholarship in Vancouver; or that while at Berkeley, David had been Denise Levertov's TA, as well as Thom Gunn's. David appears a few times in these letters, they both read and liked his books. At first, he was amazed at the clarity and intensity of their letters and how reminiscent it was of them for him. After a few hundred pages, he said, "This is all well and good, but move ahead. I want to know what split them up!"
Unfortunately, his memoirs never went beyond the first draft stage. We worked on it a few times this spring when he was up to it. I was beginning to type out the handwritten pages and read them to him. He usually closed his eyes as I read and his head would drop. Sometimes he fell asleep, but usually when I asked for a comment, I was surprised (amid some "dementia," such as last year's "the other Sebastopol" which I'm still personally dealing with) by his clarity. The last time was, I think, just three weeks ago. I was reading to David about his first day alone and out of England. He was in Copenhagen, taken by his guide to all the tourist spots. After I read him his chapter, he said he needed to say more about the Tivoli Gardens and asked if I would take dictation. This is what I took down from him:
Tivoli Gardens is the name that formed my lasting impressions of Copenhagen. It was full of merriment with fanciful decorations, all manner of distraction and palm trees to gaze up into. Everyone seemed to be there to have a good time. Here were railroad tracks, vast vistas to enfold you, and surprises of every kind. And just imagine having such a playground to play in.
And what was unusual about this park was the contained friendliness of its inhabitants. I can't speak for all times, but whenever I was there, the behavior of the natives was naturally cunning. It was as though everyone there apprehended his or her role as a performer, acted out this role to the full. The ducks, the drakes, the living specimens of the ages, festooned their announcements with allure. Bands played in more than one hollow and to be young there, was to catch the excitement of every passing glance and form scenarios—shocking elsewhere yet apparently attainable in the park's interior. That arm extended to you had no ulterior motive. It was an invitation to dance, and what could be more of a blessing than that. Partnership perched in the leaves that abounded the slopes where we dancers showed off.
The band was taking its beat from the tympani. Running in threes and fours, the dancers broke up any sage amount of their activity & scattered in dew drops.
Perhaps I'm being selfish, since this was one of my last memories of David, the poet, I choose to think of David waiting for us in Tivoli Gardens. This was such a wonderfully wrought memory. I know David didn't believe in a hereafter. He couldn't after his isolation at the TB hospital as an infant and the terror of hearing the bombs drop and explode during the London blitz as a child. I don't know if I could, had that been my experience. He would always kid with me when I referenced something "other worldly" in my writing, though I definitely read a spiritual aspect in his writing that was anchored to earthly experience and being alive. It is all very real for me. So I'm thinking of David here. Of course, David's language/thought has always been open, he's left us clues to check "Africa" and "the other Sebastopol" too.
Other tributes to David Bromige can be found at: http://bromige.wordpress.com/memories-thoughts-reflections/
A wonderful picture of David in his dining room and an equally wonderful tribute by Trane DeVore can be found at: http://troutfactory.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/david-bromige-1933-2009/
Causes Bill Vartnaw Supports
Amnesty International, KPFA