This is the fifth installment of my Friday posts about the "Pomona Poet," Ted Pugh. Today the Open Space will be filled by a guest post from Lorraine Rogers, Ted Pugh's friend and editor. Lorraine is in the midst of going through the unpublished poetry Ted left behind at the time of his death. Lorraine's husband Cedric explains that "The poems were on the floor where they fell after he wrote each one. I have worked with rocket scientists who use this filing method on a desk and it works well but it isn't clean. As Ted got older he lost control of too many functions." Lorraine has therefore had to have trained professionals assist her with the task of sorting through Ted's poetry.
Here is what Lorraine Rogers writes about Ted's relationship with Peter the Peacock:
"Peter just seemed to appear one morning and no one seemed to know where he came from. Ted claimed too that he just appeared, and Ted was very pleased to have him there because he fit so perfectly into his surroundings and Peter too seemed very pleased with his home, meaning Ted's, Marjorie's and the Butcher's home (across McKinley). It was years later that Marjorie claimed Peter as hers, and very likely he really was hers for she apparently kept other special birds in her spacious backyard property and enjoyed doing this very much.
Early one very cool late winter morning, at about 6:30 AM, while the world was still sleeping, I joined Ted who was writing poetry in his hideaway, sitting on his front porch, set back away from the stairs where one could unobtrusively watch the world without being watched. As we sat talking a little, but mostly being quiet, up walked Peter, in his slow and stately gait up the steps and onto the front porch....Peter was ever so aware of his own beauty, dignity, and the importance of ALWAYS carrying himself in a regal manner. Peter went directly to the two bowls of dry cat food that Ted kept out at night for his two spayed cats and also for any other hungry critters, be they cat, dog, 'possum, or raccoon. I believe all those and more, fed there at night on more than one occasion. Peter pretty much stayed away from people, but he was perfectly at ease eating Ted's cat food while Ted watched from only a few feet away.
They seemed to have a pleasant understanding of one another, two batchelors, sharing a beautiful, semi-wild place, both willing to share a little, but also determined to maintain their own fierce independence.
Ted loved his private wilderness and so, it seems, did Peter. When Ted was gone and the land was "tamed" and cleaned up, Peter became more visually exposed to traffic and the general noise of the area. It seems to me that he began wandering farther afield. I used to be concerned about his safety. It's true that no car ever touched him; in fact Peter was a traffic stopper, but I used to wonder if he would just wander off and get hurt and never get home. The Thomases had an agreement with Marjorie (Harvey) that they would look after, feed, etc. Peter. Also, my understanding of Marjorie's sale of her home to the new owner was that this person would also take care of and look after Peter....I know from Marjorie that she always put special bird food out for all her birds, including Peter, but I think that no one except Ted realized how important that extra suipply of dry catfood was for Peter during the cold winter days in the early mornings, the days when Peter was a frequent and welcome visitor to Ted's front porch."
The peacock photograph is copyright, 2005, Cedric Rogers. The photograph of Ted's porch is from the Pomona Library's Digital Collection.