“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

The English Patient
(Ralph Fiennes & Kristin Scott Thomas)

                   

“Let the darkness transform into rock
across the wilderness of my memory” ~ Liu Xiaobo, from “Fifteen Years of Darkness” (trans. Jeffrey Yang)

Monday night. Stuffy outside, humidity. Seems like storms are looming but not actually becoming.

Count Almásy and Katherine Clifton Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek

Memory is a tricky thing, as I’m sure I have said before. The same memory can at times be nostalgic, conjuring a bittersweet longing for a return to the moment of conception. And then later, that same memory can be so fraught with emotion that tears are the only possible response.

For example: Last night I was flipping through the channels rather aimlessly. I happened upon a showing of The English Patient, a movie that has held the number 2 spot in my all-time favorite movies for well over a decade. (It was formerly in the number 1 spot, that is until the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and well, there is no surpassing that). As I noted the listing, I paused on the channel, thought that I would probably move on to something else, but never changed the channel.

This was a mistake.

I know that I have to be in the right frame of mind to watch The English Patient, and I wasn’t in that frame of mind. But by the time the credits rolled, I was in full emotional meltdown. I pulled my soundtrack off the rack, popped it into the computer, and waited for morning.

“The rapturous notes of an unendurable grief, of isolation and terror,
the nearly impossible to sustain slow phrases of the ascending figures—
they drifted out over the dark water
like an ecstasy.” ~ Louise Glück, from “The Balcony”

The English Patient
Naveen Andrews & Juliette Binoche

I first saw that movie upon its release in 1996, which was a very, very bad year for me. A friend of mine at the museum had recommended the Michael Ondaatje book to me the previous spring, but I had promptly forgotten about it. Immediately after watching the Anthony Minghella-directed movie, I did two things: I bought the soundtrack, and I bought the book. I didn’t look for the best price, or a sale, I just bought them, which, if you know how I shop, is very uncharacteristic.

In 1996, my marriage to my ex was quickly declining, for a multitude of reasons. I had been laid off from the Museum because of the massive deficit, and I was in a very dark, lonely place. My relationship with Mari, one of the bedrocks of my life, was also in rapid decline, for reasons of which I am still not fully aware. But I went to see this movie with her, and, as it turns out, with her young amour, the person who would be responsible for completely changing her.

But I digress.

We went to the Naro, an old renovated theater in the heart of downtown’s Ghent section. The sound in this particular theater is incredible, and from the opening notes of the first song I was totally enthralled.

“We have understood nothing of life until we have understood that it is one vast confusion.” ~ Henry de Montherlant, from The Bachelors

Almásy in the Desert

If you are unfamiliar with the movie (which holds very closely to Ondaatje’s book), I will briefly recap chronologically what is shown in two different timelines: Count Almásy (played by a then rather gorgeous golden Ralph Fiennes) is part of of a Royal Geographical Society archeological expedition in the deserts of Egypt and Libya in the 1930s. Katherine (played by a blond Kristin Scott Thomas) and her husband (Colin Firth) join the group. An affair ensues, hearts are broken, promises are broken, WWII breaks out, Almásy trades important maps of the desert with the Germans in exchange for a plane and fuel so that he can keep his promise to return to Katherine, a plane crash follows, the Count is burned beyond recognition, loses his identity and simply becomes the English patient, Juliette Binoche, Naveen Andrews, and Willem Dafoe enter the picture, hearts are broken, betrayals occur, the war ends.

It all sounds so clinical when spelled out like that. It is anything but.

The cinematography is breathtaking. The music is heart-wrenching. The acting is impeccable. So how could something that I consider to be so good hurt me so bad(ly)? To provide a true answer to that would take a lot more time and space than this little forum.

“Once I conjugated every animal to sorrow . . . Even now it seems like every version of melancholy rescues a nocturne for the pallid sky. A type of permanent dusk. Fold down the bedsheet. The room has earned its sadness. Nondescript despite how we have rearranged ourselves inside it, undressing with cold hands. Us with our pilgrim hearts. Stationed fast to parentheses of sleep and winter.” ~ Allison Titus, from Sum of Every Lost Ship

Le me try a slightly sifted explanation in which the chaff has been mostly eradicated:

Final Walk to the Cave of the Swimmers

The love affair between Katherine and Almásy is epic. It is destiny. It is the kind of love between two people that those of us who are romantics firmly believe is possible, what we hope for but what we know we will never have. Even as she lays dying, Katherine offers her love a quiet peace within the last words she writes, and she writes these words even as the lamplight is dying, the air is chilling, and any hope of rescue is firmly quenched.

Later, as he lies in a foreign bed in a deserted house, Almásy spends his time daydreaming about the hours they shared. His copy of Herodotus is filled with love notes and personal commentaries on love and betrayal, overwriting the historian’s account of Greco-Roman history.

After watching the movie and then reading the book, I found a kind of running thread of words and phrases from both in the back of my mind at any given time during the day or night. I underlined passages. I wrote marginalia, the most telling of which was “I wish that I could find someone to love me like this.”

“Now and then, I remember you in times
Unbelievable. And in places not made for memory
But for the transient, the passing that does not remain.” ~ Yehuda Amichai, from “Little Ruth” (trans. by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav)

At that time in my life, I did not feel loved, or rather, I felt loved in the wrong way, if that makes any sense. Any sense of belonging that I felt came from outside my home. I felt stretched too thin, underappreciated, overworked, and mostly, mostly I felt hollow. So when I see this movie, all of those feelings come back to the surface. I remember exactly where I was sitting in the theater. I remember trying to tell my ex about the beauty of the movie, asking him to go see it with me (which never happened).

The English Patient Original Theatrical Release Poster

(Later that year, the owner of the Naro gave me the movie poster as he knew how much I coveted it. I still have it and am still waiting for that room of my own in which to hang it.)

The English Patient does for me exactly what Aristotle’s Poetics declared great drama would do to an audience: allow an empathy with the story so profound as to cause a purging of pity and fear. The mythos (plot) and ethos (character) of the movie combine to reopen old scars, leaving me stinging as if the scab has only recently been scratched, and then, a few days later, I am purged. But the reopening of the portal to that era in my life is not without consequences.

Or, to put it more simply, it’s an elevated version of The Way We Were, the Streisand/Redford collaboration of the 70’s that depicted two ill-fated lovers who loved too much, whose love was all-consuming, and consequently, couldn’t withstand time and circumstance. Of course, The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, and The Way We Were none. But the real point is this: Why is such passionate love always doomed?

But that’s a completely different entry.

More later. Peace.

Music from The English Patient, closing theme, composed by Gabriel Yared

                   

Light By Which I Read

One does not turn to the rose for shade, nor the charred song of the
redwing for solace.
This past I patch with words is a flaw in the silvering,
memory seen
through to.
There I find the shallow autumn waters, the three stolen pears,
The horizon edged with chalk, loose where the fabric frayed.
Each yesterday glacier-scored, each a dark passage illumined by a
honeycomb.

*

I begin to fathom the brittle intricacy of the window’s scrim of ice.
For years, I managed without memory—stalled, unnumbered,
abridged—
No more alive than a dismembered saint enthroned in two hundred
reliquaries.
Now, it is hard not to say I remember,
hard, in fact, not to remember.
Now, I hear the filament’s quiver, its annoying high frequency, light
by which I read.

*

River mist, mudbanks, and rushes mediate the dark matter
Between two tomorrows:
one an archive of chance effects,
The other a necropolis of momentary appearances and sensations.
One, a stain of green, where a second wash bleeds into the first.
The other time-bound, fecund, slick with early rain.

*

As if to impose a final hermeneutic, all at once the cicadas wind down.
The gooseberry bush looms like a moon: each berry taut, sour, aglow.
The creek runs tar in the cloud-light, mercury at dusk.
Then the frogs start up.
Clay-cold at the marrow. A hollow pulse-tick.
And it seems, at last, I’ve shed my scorched and papery husk.

~ Eric Pankey

(To see poem with original indents, click on link.)

The things you asked me but didn’t really want to know . . .

I have thought long and hard about the following. This is the part of the application that might be a throwaway. I’m not really sure that anyone at SSA will read this, but I’ve decided that I’m going to print it and send it in along with my standard answers to their questionnaire. If nothing else, it will make me feel better.

To the Social Security Administration:

You asked me to complete the attached form to include any information that may be useful in helping you to determine whether or not I qualify for Social Security benefits. I remember 24 years ago completing another form for another faceless bureaucracy that wanted to know if I had any additional information regarding my daughter’s death that may assist in processing our health insurance claims. At that time, I began another page in much the same way: “You ask me . . .”

That answer turned into an essay that encompassed much that had happened in those four harrowing months of my life. Tonight, I will try to encompass the significant things that have happened to change my life in the last nine years (give or take a year, here or there).

You may notice that I have taken quite a while to complete this questionnaire this time (yes, I have completed this same questionnaire two or three other times). You see, I wanted to take the time to make everything as crystal clear for you as possible. The last judge to rule on my case depended upon an unnamed woman who sat in on my hearing and said that I could go back to work as a marketing director or sales manager (in her humble opinion). The lawyer representing me at the time very gently squeezed my hand, and I bit my tongue. I could sense that anything else that I might have to add was simply deemed irrelevant at that point. And not too surprisingly, I was denied benefits.

But now? Now I want to tell you how very much my life has changed since the morning I woke up and could not stand, the morning on which I found that I could not walk the few feet to the bathroom. It was the most agonizing pain I have ever felt, and that’s saying something as I have given birth four times, once without any pain medication. I was told, after some tests, that I had a herniated disk. I was given medication, sent to a pain management specialist, and referred to physical therapy. In time, I was able to move again, but I was never again pain-free. Little things could set it off: stretching the wrong way, carrying something too heavy, lifting a stack of books.

You know those charts that doctors show you on which there are 10 circles with various expressions on their faces, with 1 being no pain and 10 being excruciating pain? Well, most people are fortunate enough to walk around in the one to two category. I am never below a 3, which I believe ranks as extreme discomfort. Most of the time—and please believe me when I say that I am not exaggerating—I exist at a 5. I have been very close to a ten, and on days on which I find that I cannot leave my bed, I hover around a 7 or 8.

Now let me pause. You are probably thinking to yourself, “This woman has a flair for the dramatic.”

Well, you wouldn’t be wrong about that; however, I am actually not dramatizing anything contained herein. I said that I was going to tell you how my so-called disability affects my quality of life, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Remember the woman who said that I could easily resume one of my former careers? Well, let’s take the Marketing Director position that I had. In that particular job, I routinely had to tote framed floor plans and site plans to empty sales offices in which I was then responsible for installing all sales materials. I also had to carry brochures (routinely 100 copies at a time) to and from sites. I carried large mailing to our distribution center. In other words, I carried around a lot more than the equivalent of a five-pound bag of flour.

The sales manager position? That’s just laughable. In that particular job I never sat down, well, make that almost never. I walked up and down three floors, moved full racks of clothes (not on wheels, mind you), hauled boxes filled with merchandise, and installed displays. In other words, lifting, carrying, bending, stretching, and a lot of walking.

My other positions? As a university instructor I regularly carried at least two carryalls filled with books and papers to grade. As an education specialist, I had to cart a laptop, a projector, catalogs, informational materials, an expandable banner, and various accoutrement to each informational session that I conducted, some of which were in Richmond. In this same position I routinely had to drive up and back to Washington D.C. in a day for marketing meetings. It was because of the demands of this particular position that I finally gave in and had the operation on my back, a decision that I will forever regret as ever since having that operation I have not lived one day without pain. The operation did not ease my pain; it increased it.

This little essay could actually be called “The Things She Carried.” Humor. Forgive me.

Back to the answer: Before I hurt my back, I could get by easily on five to seven hours of sleep. I used to awaken at 5 a.m., work out for at least half an hour, do a load of laundry, get ready for work, transport my kids to school, work all day, come home, fix dinner, maybe do more laundry, help with homework, and sometimes fit in a trip to the grocery store. I was actually quite strong for my size. At one time, I worked out five days a week and took a yoga class on Saturday mornings. I used to walk three miles in the morning. Every Saturday for years I would wake up and clean my entire house: scrub all of the floors, vacuum, change the linens, polish the furniture. My house was immaculate.

Some of my hobbies included hiking the Virginia foothills, toting around photographic equipment, and kayaking in the Back Bay. I loved to garden and do backyard birding. I used to collect paper samples from paper companies which I used to make personalized books for my family members. I used to change the oil in my car and regularly detail my vehicle inside and out. I have painted the inside and outside of my house, and I have hung wallpaper. I know how to change an electric socket or a light fixture, but I can no longer bend long enough to do so.

That was then.

Today, my life is more like this: I sleep at least 10 hours a day, that is if I’m not going through one of my insomnia bouts. I haven’t been to a gym in years. I haven’t taken a yoga class in almost a decade. I cannot walk distances or climb stairs. I cannot carry anything weighing more than ten pounds. I cannot kneel without great pain.

I can take care of my own hygiene, and for that I am very thankful. I can cook occasionally, but standing for hours to chop and process many dishes for a big meal is beyond my capabilities. I do laundry as long as someone else carries it to and from the washer and dryer. I cannot go grocery shopping by myself as I cannot load or unload the bags. I can sit at this computer for small stretches, but if I forget to get up regularly, I find my back frozen. My wrists hurt all of the time, but it’s not carpal tunnel; my pain doctor says that it’s directly related to the nerve bundles in my neck, which feel like large walnuts at any given time. My left shoulder has frozen twice.

Each month, or when I can afford it (not the same thing), I get at least 10-15 trigger point injections from my neck to my buttocks to try to loosen some of the muscles. I do not get massages as I cannot afford them. I have to take muscle relaxers all day and night just to exist.

By the way, it was taking these medications that gave my former employer cause for concern as I fell asleep at my desk from exhaustion one morning. They were concerned that I might fall asleep behind the wheel during the 26 mile commute to and from work. When I was referred to the proper channels about getting an accommodation at work for my condition, after review I was told that I would have to go out on disability. This was not something that I chose. If it had been up to me I would have probably tried to keep working for at least a few more years. Why? Because I loved having a career. Because not working at all after working since I was 15 has done quite a number on my mental health and self-esteem.

Along with the muscle relaxers and pain medication, I have to take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine. I take medicine to help me sleep. I take medicine for my cholesterol and blood sugar, both of which are high because I cannot exercise, even though I have given up sugar and altered my diet substantially. I take medicine for my thyroid and medicine for my GERD. And I haven’t even gotten to the migraines yet.

Ah yes, the migraines, which I have suffered since I was in my teens. I have been on so many medications for my migraines that I have truly lost count. The one medicine that did help caused my hair to fall out and really messed up my ability to think linearly or remember anything beyond my name. Now I take something to relieve the pain when it hits, but I can’t take it more than twice in one day, and I was told that after the first day, it’s really not effective, which is a bitch since my migraines last for days. The longest one lasted for weeks, no lie. They thought I might have a tumor. Luckily, it was just a migraine.

I have been somewhat fortunate in that my former employers all understood that extended exposure to overhead lighting triggers migraines, not that I didn’t catch grief for it. It is a little harder to explain to an employer who has never had a migraine why it’s impossible to look at a computer screen when in the midst of an episode. I suffer from what is called something akin to multi-headache syndrome: sinus headaches, stress headaches, and migraines. Oh, that pain level thing again as regards the headaches? Well today’s migraine was a solid 7. If it’s not the intensity, then it’s the frequency and/or longevity.

So how has all of this affected the quality of my life? How hasn’t it would be a more fitting question. My family members have all learned to keep their voices down when I have a headache. They all know that sometimes it is impossible for me to go somewhere as planned because of pain. If I go to a movie, I have to take a pillow so as to sit comfortably for a few hours. I can’t eat certain foods that trigger migraines. And my health insurance and medication costs eat up a big chunk of the family budget.

How has it affected me? I am a completely different woman, sometimes, a woman I don’t know, a woman with weaknesses she never had, a woman with limitations she never knew, a woman without a career after a lifetime of hard work, a woman with almost no retirement savings and small prospects for the future. I used to have an active social life, went to museum openings, symphonies, concerts; now my family wishes that I would leave the house more.

How has it affected me? I’m not entirely sure that I can answer this question to your satisfaction. You see, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You don’t know the person I was nor the person I have become. The person I was would have never chosen to answer this questionnaire in this manner, too embarrassing. That person was self-assured, successful, and smart. She thrived on stress, loved to learn new things, and welcomed challenges. This person? I’m not even sure that I would want to know her.

“There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work” ~ Susan Sontag’s thoughts on writing, from her diaries

                   

“Whatever I do I must
keep my head. I know
it is easier for me to lose my way
forever here, than in other landscapes” ~ Margaret Atwood, from Journey to the Interior

Sunday, late morning. Sunny, not as hot, but thunderstorms predicted for later, 80’s.

I had big plans to write on Friday and Saturday, but I became distracted by all of the things that still needed to be done, like sorting my files on this computer, cleaning my desk, giving the dogs a bath, cleaning the floors . . . I used to think that if I had a bigger house, that it wouldn’t get so messy, but now I realize that the mess would just be bigger. The dogs would still come in with wet paws; people would still leave mail in odd places, and dishes would just have more places to get lost in if there were more space.

Pigmy Manta Rays at Aussie Point, Munda, Solomon Islands
by Lenny Cliffhanger (FCC)

Anyway, Corey had an uneventful flight to New York, and he’s all settled in to his quarters; he sounds tired, though. The ship is actually coming to Norfolk this coming week to take on a load. Have to love that. I have no idea as to how long he’ll be in port, but I’ll take what I can get. Tillie is already missing him as she is acting out quite a bit. She wakes me up with a ball in her mouth as if to say, “Now? Now?” Or she sits on the bed while I’m at the computer, and she talks to me (yes, talks).

Tonight, we get to babysit Miss Olivia while Alexis and Mike go to a surprise birthday party for her friend Jennifer, who has been cancer free for over a year now (who would have thought?), I believe. Eamonn is very excited that the baby will be here. I wonder how excited he’ll be when I tell him to change a diaper . . . Speaking of the baby, I still haven’t downloaded the pictures from the camera, but I figured that I’d just take a few more today, and then download the whole bunch. How’s that for logic?

“I am
a series of
small victories
and large defeats
and I am as
amazed
as any other
that
I have gotten
from there to
here . . .” ~ Charles Bukowski, from “The People Look Like Flowers At Last”

So I have clean dogs, a clean desk, clean floors. I’ve almost finished going through the pile of papers, and I’ve almost finished the Social Security form. I had my eye exam and was fitted properly for multi-focal lenses (which I don’t happen to have in at the moment) and now have a new prescription for glasses. I’ve picked out the frames, just have to buy them and take them to Sam’s Club to get the lenses put in. I seem to have accomplished quite a bit.

Top Shelf, Munda, Solomon Islands
by Lenny Cliffbanger (FCC)

So why do I feel as if I’ve accomplished nothing? Last night I dreamt that it was time for final exams, and I hadn’t been to two of my graduate classes and was behind in turning in assignments. I was trying to explain to my professors that I had been sick, but to no avail. One of my instructors did offer me some candy to make me feel better, but she still wasn’t going to accept any late assignments, and I needed to read two books in one day for a final exam. Such a stressful dream, but so telling: I’m behind even when I’m ahead.

Last night when I was backposting for this past week, I felt genuinely sad and disappointed in myself. I mean, I do like what I’ve posted, the poems, the quotes, but they aren’t real posts, are they? At least not real within the parameters that I’ve set for myself. I never wanted this blog to become a chore, but last night it felt that way, felt a bit like the song of the albatross (which is something I said once upon waking from a dream(?)), but that feeling is another reason that I did not go on to write more then.

Did that make any sense?

“Sometimes it gets lonely here,
the sea water collapses
out beyond the horizon
like the dream I thought
I understood, only to find
waking harder than the dream’s horizon.” ~ Michael Burkard, from “Directly in Shadow”

I feel as though I’m a walking jumble of emotions all of the time, not just here and there, but all the time, and that’s quite disconcerting. I’m happy that Olivia is here, and she’s healthy and happy and good-natured (as far as one can tell about an infant). I’m sad that Corey is gone for another three months, but I’m glad that he’ll be in port soon, but it will be hard to gear myself up to say goodbye again.

Rock Hind in a Sponge, Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire
NOAA Photo Library (FCC)

I’m glad that we’re doing much better financially, but I’m so sad that Corey is working at a job that keeps him from going to college and keeps him away from the family for long stretches. I’m glad that Brett has found a major that he truly loves, but I wish that he knew how to drive, but I understand why he doesn’t want to learn.

I’m glad that my mother seems relatively healthy, but I’m terrified because I think that I’m seeing signs of Alzheimer’s, and I have no idea as to how to approach her about this.

I’m delighted that I have my computer back and that everything is set up and working, but seeing it sitting here on this desk is almost like an unspoken taunt: What are you going to do now? I kept promising myself that I would do this and this and that once I got my computer fixed. Okay, so it’s time. Now what?

“Greedy for life, we forget in body and soul our hopes for the future until reality teaches us that tomorrow is not what we had dreamed, and we discover nostalgia.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from “Memories of My Melancholy Whores”

So, dear readers, I feel as if I have arrived at some sort of juncture in my life, Frost’s two roads, if you will. What I find immensely strange is that most of the time in life we do not have such a clear indication that the juncture is before us. We make choices, change our lives, and then we realize that there was a turning point. Sometimes the junctures are obvious: Do I go to graduate school? Do I get married? But I think that most of the time, they are not so obvious.

Skull Island Wall, Munda, Solomon Islands
by Lenny Cliffbanger (FCC)

For example, in the back of my mind I have had a certain date looming: October 2012. That’s the point at which my student loans for my last graduate degree will be forgiven as I am on disability. Now, once that happens, do I want to do what many would consider to be stupid and apply for a Ph.D. program in English? Am I not too old to be embarking on such a course? But then there is this: I truly do not feel as if I will ever be satisfied unless I achieve this milestone in my life.

So do I go left,  or do I go right?

But more immediately, what is this turning point at which I feel I have arrived? Is it that I have now joined the ranks of my friends and compatriots who are witnessing a second generation within their families? And in reaching this, have I crossed some invisible demarcation in the sand that now places me firmly in one category versus another?A person could go well and truly mad over such thoughts.

More than we experienced has gone by.
And the future holds the most remote event
in union with what we most deeply want.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “[II]” (Appendix to The Sonnets to Orpheus) by  (trans. Stephen Mitchell)

If only life were like nail polish: You choose a color, put it on, wear it for a bit. Then, you decide that you don’t like the color, and you change it. You can even do this daily if you are obsessed enough. Put it on. Take it off. A different color for every day. A different choice for every day. A different way of seeing things for each day.

Munda Bar, Solomon Islands
by Lenny Cliffbanger (FCC)

I know. It’s a pretty lame simile, but hey, it’s close to home.

When I used to go to the nail salon, the people who worked there had a running joke: What color do you want today? Red or red? Everything was a shade of red. It fit me, fit my mood, fit my demeanor. Now that I’m not so angry at the world all of the time, I have branched out—pink, purple, copper, black, even blue.

Oh my, that last statement was actually an epiphany for me. I don’t think that I realized until I wrote it that the red was my shield, my protective armor against all of the forces that I thought were against me, and truthfully, there were some forces against me. Don’t even get me started on the boss who openly hated women. (But that’s another story.) So perhaps I don’t need that armor any more, or at least, not all of the time.

“I have heard a kind of whispered sighing
not far
like a night wind in pines or like the sea in the dark
the echo of everything that has ever
been spoken
still spinning its one syllable
between the earth and silence” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “Utterance”

I have Radiohead playing in the background, seems fitting.

Batfish at Munda Bar, Solomon Island
by Lenny Cliffbanger

I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase teenage angst, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the phrase adult angst. But why not? Angst is not singular to adolescence. Well, at least not for me. I’m not sure about you, out there in the ether.

Angst (Latin angustia, “tensity, tightness” and angor, “choking, clogging”), aside from being a truly wonderful word, applies to all manner of anxiety. True, Søren Kierkegaard used the word Angest (in common Danish, angst, meaning “dread” or “anxiety”) to describe “a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity and fear in the free human being” (Wikipedia, I’m lazy today).

Personally, angst is much more than mere anxiety. For me, it is the following:

anxiety + fear + insecurity + frustration + self-loathing (the unknown)3 = success ± failure

I was going to say squared, but somehow it didn’t seem emphatic enough.

More later. Peace.

Music by, who else, Radiohead, “No Surprises”

Continuing on yesterday’s theme: images of ocean life taken from Flickr Creative Commons

                   

Where Horizons Go

I never write the words I meant to write.
Those come from where I’ve been, looking for me;
they are a door ajar, as if they might
almost be true, and almost make me free.
But then the words that they set out to be
become those others that perhaps I meant
for naming what I wanted not to see,
as if some truth half giving its consent
turned, and the turning made it different
and led it elsewhere, somehow, by a hand
not the same hand that guided my intent.
I mean to write those words I understand
before they speak themselves, but then they close.
And what they would have said, god only knows.

~ Rhina P. Espaillat

“If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Manta Tubbataha by Maria Teresa Lara (tetlara) on 500px.com
Manta Tubbataha by Maria Teresa Lara

I have an unusual love of rays. I couldn’t really tell you why other than I think that they are incredibly graceful and amazingly beautiful in the way their symmetrical bodies glide through the water. No real point here, Just felt like sharing.

Music by Ryan Adams, “Starlite Diner”

                   

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,
I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness
of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.
As if I didn’t exist. Do I have any
share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with
their pure effect? Does my blood’s ebb and flow
change with their changes? Let me put aside
every desire, every relationship
except this one, so that my heart grows used to
its farthest spaces. Better that it live
fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than
as if protected, soothed by what is near.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“They are the efforts of someone who, overarced by stars that are human handiwork, and who . . . goes with his very being into language, reality-wounded and reality-seeking.”

Reblogged from apoetreflects:

apoetreflects:“Only one thing remain[s] reachable, close, and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remain[s] secure against loss.”—Paul Celan

“Only one thing remain[s] reachable, close, and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remain[s] secure against loss.”

~ Paul Celan

                   

I Can Still See You

I can still see you: an Echo,
to be touched with Feeler-
Words, on the Parting-
Ridge.

Your face softly shies away,
when all at once there is
lamp-like brightness
in me, at the Point,
where most painfully one says Never.

~ Paul Celan

                   

Music by Alison Krauss, “Can’t Find My Way Home”

“No matter how often I tell myself that chance happenings of this kind occur far more often than we suspect, since we all move, one after the other, along the same roads mapped out for us by our origins and our hopes, my rational mind is nonetheless unable to lay the ghosts of repetition that haunt me with ever greater frequency.” ~ W. G. Sebald

Lagoon Nebula
NASA

                    

“I suppose it is submerged realities that give to dreams their curious air of hyper-reality.But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. A pond becomes a lake, a breeze becomes a storm, a handful of dust is a desert, a grain of sulphur in the blood is a volcanic inferno. What manner of theatre is it, in which we are at once playwright, actor, stage manager, scene painter and audience?”

~ W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

Music by Melody Gardot, “Deep Within the Corners of My Mind”

“Truth is ever incoherent.” ~ Melville in a letter to Hawthorne, November 1851

Corey left today for Brooklyn. Unsure as to what his schedule will be, but he may be going to the Azores for the first trip . . . Will update later.

Littlefoot, 19

This is the bird hour, peony blossoms falling bigger than wren hearts
On the cutting border’s railroad ties,
Sparrows and other feathery things
Homing from one hedge to the next,
late May, gnat-floating evening.

Is love stronger than unlove?
Only the unloved know.
And the mockingbird, whose heart is cloned and colorless.

And who’s this tiny chirper,
lost in the loose leaves of the weeping cherry tree?
His song is not more than three feet off the ground, and singular,
And going nowhere.
Listen. It sounds a lot like you, hermane.
It sounds like me.

~ Charles Wright (to see poem with proper spacing, which I cannot do here, click here)