“Only now and then the lines attack like birds of prey, any time, any place. And demand to be written.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from “A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook”

“Le Viol Detail la Domestique” (1869)
Edgar Degas

Trying to get the shower invitations done, and it is not going well. Offering up someone else who does it much better than I . . .

Selections from “A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook”
Storks, study, and solitude in a fading life.

Anna Kamienska

I now exist on the principle of shortsightedness, which demands enhanced attention to the moment. Late wisdom, but close to the wisdom of childhood. A lovely summer day. Color, taste, scent. A squirrel. Cherries. Good tiredness. Cauliflower for supper. Clean house. And always darkness, darkness that spreads around all of it. Everything submerged in awful darkness.

*****

The inscription rings with a poetry much older than its date.

*****

I escape into sleep. Sleep is what I’ll miss most when I die.

*****

I’ve learned to value failed conversations, missed connections, confusions. What remains is what’s unsaid, what’s underneath. Understanding on another level of being.

*****

The sun came out today. But I still ache all over. It made me think of Waclaw Gralewski’s theory: every tumble, bruise, broken leg or arm is the price for disrupting some hidden order. Instant punishment.

*****

I have no talent. I’m not talking about the literary marketplace: I mean how I see myself. I write poems for myself, like these notebooks, to think things through, that’s all.

*****

The soul has two distinct layers. One is the “I”—capricious, fickle, uncertain, it hops from joy to despair. The other, the “soul,” is steady, sure, unwavering, watchful, ready, aware.

*****

I received the grace of shadows. The grace of remaining in the dark.

*****

In the human world everything is mixed. No pure states. Even death is life in some sense. Archaeology—eschatology?

*****

I walk around disguised as an overweight old lady.

*****

Deafness has seized even my dreams. They’re voiceless, like silent movies. Or when the machine breaks in the theater and the audience suddenly starts stomping.

*****

We recognize things, as in poetry, through resemblances. Through metaphors. This way we gather them into wider systems so that they don’t dangle alone.

*****

Never. Never. Never. I could fill a whole notebook with that word.

*****

I returned
to confirm
there can be no return.

*****

To hide from old age. To crawl into a crack in the floor.

*****

Sorrow—that’s the noblest thing linking us to animals. The sorrow of existence.

*****

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t have a face. Just a mask of pain. I wanted to be more than a mother, I wanted to be a friend. But the director calls us to order. You don’t get to pick the role.

*****

During the sleepless hours of the night a thought came to me that seemed important. I got up in the dark and wrote it down. In the morning I read: “I went looking for loneliness. But it found me.”

*****

Letters of the condemned. Last words scratched on a cell’s wall. To write like that.

*****

Niobe. Niobe—that’s me. That’s every abandoned mother.

*****

This morning I suddenly catch myself: I’m not there, I’m so lost in thought, I don’t know what’s going on around me. Can you think yourself to death?

*****

Where your pain is, there your heart lies also.