“The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

(c) Perth & Kinross Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“Blyth Autumn” (1963, oil on canvas)
by Robert Henderson


Two for Tuesday: October

Thursday evening. Partly cloudy and humid, 81 degrees.

Argh. Heat and humidity. What gives? I want it to feel like October, to feel like autumn.

Corey has spent the day working on the side yard again. All of the random trees have been cut down. He has mulched a huge pile from the wood, and today, he put up a make-shift fence until he has the funds to rent an auger and do all of the post holes. At some point he’s going to work on getting some of the stumps out or cut level, don’t know which, but removal requires a grinder, which costs money. Anyway, I know that he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. As am I.

We’re working on getting done the things we have to get done so that we can put this house on the market. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better. But, of course, everything takes money, so it’s here and there. It would be so nice if we had the funds to just take care of everything all at once, but alas. Not for now.

He goes back next week, and it’s been really nice to have him home for a full three weeks. With this set schedule, he’ll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and somehow we have to fit in holidays and a trip to Ohio to see the new baby. I long for easier days. Oh well . . . Baby tonight, which is always nice.

More later. Peace.

MSKG - Zonnige boom - Emile Claus (1900)

“Tree in the Sun” (1900, oil on canvas)
by Emil Claus

Late October

Carefully
the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
again.

~ Maya Angelou

                   

Léon Spilliaert October Evening, 1912

“October Evening” (1912, pastel on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

October, Mon Amour

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins

browned on the asphalt drive.

It’s got to be October,

Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory.

Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil,

Our lives are shoved in,

barely visible, but still unspoiled.

Our history is the history of the City of God.

What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess.

Whatever has given you comfort,

Whatever has rested you,

Whatever untwisted your heart

is what you will leave behind.

~ Charles Wright

                   

Music by Esthero, “Crash” (featuring Johan Johnson)

“Sometimes I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.” ~ Evelyn Waugh, from Brideshead Revisited

Lin Fengmian Autumn Twilight in a Forest

“Autumn Twilight in a Forest” (1960, ink and colour on paper mounted on paper board)
by Lin Fengmian


“we all stare out the window into the dark where the stars continue
to survive like syllables of an extinct but beautiful language.” ~ Philip Schultz, from “Personal History”

Late Thursday afternoon. Sunny and a bit too warm, 75 degrees.

Last night on my way back from Lex’s house I saw the moon as it was just on the horizon, and it was huge and orange, and if I had the right kind of camera, I probably would have stopped right there in the middle of the road for a picture . . . Of course, I missed the eclipse . . .

My dream: Corey and I are in London, and I’m showing him where I used to live. He is unimpressed. Someone has told him that buying property in the UK is different from buying property in the US, so he’s uninterested in any of the places that I am showing him. We are standing on the edge of a rocky precipice, and another couple is next to us. I say that I can climb down and over to get to the other side. The woman next to us scoffs audibly, so I climb over the side, only to realize that it is slippery shale rock. The man with the woman climbs over after I do. Corey is just standing there. As we are climbing we find out that the man is a millionaire. The four of us are making are way crablike along the rim of this mountainside, and with each step, rocks slide loose, but none of us seem afraid. Suddenly, a man in a uniform comes at us from the opposite side to tell us that we cannot climb there because it is dangerous. We all look at each other and begin to laugh. The tension is cut by the absurdity of what the man is telling us as we are clearly almost to the other side.

Vincent van Gogh Willows at Sunset

“Willows at Sunset” (1888, oil on board)
by Vincent van Gogh

We stand on this narrow shelf and discuss what we should do. Having decided that we’ve made our point, we turn to go back to where we began. The millionaire man goes first. His girlfriend is still snide with me as she believes I am trying to steal her boyfriend. Once we get back and climb over the wall to land on the sidewalk I ask her if she has any children. She begins to show me pictures. This is all that it takes to reassure her. Corey and I leave them, but while I am a few steps ahead of Corey I run into my ex and ask him what he is doing in London. He says he is there for work. Corey and I keep walking as the day turns into night. We go into a park and find people sleeping on benches and hilltops. We keep walking and find an open arena where U2 are performing. I tell Corey that real estate outside of the city is not nearly as expensive. I mention Scotland, Wales. He proposes Australia. I tell him I had wanted Australia years ago but no longer. Oh, and there was cake, really delicious cake that I was eating with my fingers . . .

I wake up to the phone ringing . . .

“days decrease,
And autumn grows, autumn in everything” ~ Robert Browning, from “XXV. Andrea del Sarto”

Gustaf Ankarcrona September sun, Leksand 1908

“September Sun, Leksand” (1908)
by Gustaf Ankarcrona

Perhaps if I post things related to Autumn, the air will shift, and the scent of loam will begin to dominate the evenings, and the sky will begin to seem crystalline without the haze of heat. Perhaps.

Here. Have some Longfellow from his work The Blank Book of a Country Schoolmaster (1834-35):

VXII

Emily Carr Autumn in France 1911

“Autumn in France” (1911, oil on board)
by Emily Carr

Magnificent is the Autumn of our fatherland ! By what a subtle alchemy the green leaves are transmuted into gold, as if molten by the fiery blaze of the hot sun ! A magic covering spreads over the whole forest, and brightens into more gorgeous hues. The tree-tops seem bathed with the gold and crimson of an Italian sunset. Here and there a shade of green, here and there a tinge of purple, and a stain of scarlet so deep and rich, that the most cunning artifice of man is pale beside it. A thousand delicate shades melt into each other. They blend fantastically into one deep mass. They spread over the forest like a tapestry woven with a
thousand hues.

Magnificent Autumn ! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent. His scarlet banner drips with gore. His step is like a flail upon the threshing floor.

The scene changes.

It is the Indian Summer. The rising sun blazes through the misty air like a conflagration. A yellowish, smoky haze fills the atmosphere ; and

—a filmy mist,
Lies like a silver lining on the sky.

Paul Gauguin By the Stream, Autumn 1885 oil on canvas

“By the Stream, Autumn” (1885, oil on canvas)
by Paul Gauguin

The wind is soft and low. It wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue. The birds, too, have taken wing, and have left their roofless dwellings. Not the whistle of a robin, not the twitter of an eavesdropping swallow, not the carol of one sweet, familiar voice ! All gone. Only the dismal cawing of a crow, as he sits and curses, that the harvest is over, or the chit-chat of an idle squirrel, the noisy denizen of a hollow tree, the mendicant friar of a large parish, the absolute monarch of a dozen acorns !

Another change.

The wind sweeps through the forest with a sound like the blast of a trumpet. The dry leaves whirl in eddies through the air. A fret-work of hoar-frost covers the plain. The stagnant water in the pools and ditches is frozen into fantastic figures. Nature ceases from her labors, and prepares for the great change. In the low-hanging clouds, the sharp air, like a busy shuttle, weaves her shroud of snow. There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines, like the roar of a cataract It is the funeral anthem of the dying year.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

                   

Music by J. R. Richards, “Precious Stone”

                   

Music Maybe

Too many elegies elevating sadness
to a kind of sad religion:

one wants in the end just once to befriend
one’s own loneliness,

to make of the ache of inwardness—

something,
music maybe,

or even just believing in it,
and summer,

and the long room alone
where the child

chances on a bee
banging against the glass

like an attack of happiness.

~ Christian Wiman

“Woman Shot, Killed After Saying No To A Man’s Advances, Detroit Police Say” ~ Headline on sexual harassment article

sexual harassment

For the complete long-form comic, click on the image.


80 Percent of Female Restaurant Workers Say They’ve Been Harassed by Customers ~ Headline on sexual harassment article

Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and 81 degrees.

my name is not

From “Stop Telling Women To Smile” by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

I came across this article in The Telegraph the other day and have been holding it, trying to decide how to approach it. I’ve finally decided that the best approach is the direct one: I’m posting the first half of the article with a link to the complete copy instead of just summarizing it.

Look, just from recent conversations with Corey it has been hammered home to me that the whole idea of sexual politics, sexual assault, sexual harassment will always be viewed differently by the sexes. Men can relate, but they cannot understand, not as a woman. And women can understand how precarious it is for men to be out there, walking on proverbial eggshells, but we may not sympathize.

While some men (most?) see catcalls as being flattering, most women (some?) find them anything but. Just because I put on something nice and I’m walking down this sidewalk, it doesn’t mean that I want complete strangers to hoot at me and tell me how they want to bend my body in weird ways. I didn’t get dressed with your approval in mind, and your admonition that I would look so much better if I smiled doesn’t matter one iota to me, and frankly, did I tell you that your polyester striped tie with the egg stain would look so much better in the trash?

Since I was a teenager I have walked to my car with my keys in my hand, parked beneath street lights whenever possible, etc. I know not to park between two vans or in a blind spot. Ask a male if he ever thinks about holding his keys as weapons in his hand. Ask a man if he ever wonders if someone is going to jump out from a dense hedge and attack him. Ask a man if his father ever gave him pepper spray as a gift.

not outside for your entertaiment Fazlalizadeh

From “Stop Telling Women To Smile” by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Conversely, what happens to the guy who is just doing his job, who has a female co-worker come on to him, and that same guy refuses her. What is his recourse when she reports him for harassment? Will the supervisor believe the man or the woman?

It’s all far too complex to whittle it down to a few pat phrases or to tackle in just one post. I could dedicate a blog to this topic, and there are countless ones out there already (take a look at just this one page of the Huffington Post on sexual harassment). I mean, just consider a few key news items from the past few months involving the NFL, American Apparel, the military, Congress, Tinder, Yahoo, and on and on and on . . .

I just know that I can never sleep with my doors unlocked or my windows open, at least not here, and maybe not anywhere. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve known women who have been victims of it, and I’ve been a victim, too—a victim of the groping and the hooting, the unwanted touches and the leers.

We tell our daughters just to ignore it, to be safe, to be aware. But what do we tell our sons?


Woman vows to confront ‘cowards’ after being punched for challenging groper ~ The Telegraph (27 August 2014)

Mary Brandon was left with horrific facial injuries after a man punched her in the face because she told him to stop groping her

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the “coward” get away with it 
Photo: National News and Pictures

By Claire Carter

A woman who needed hospital treatment because a man punched her in the face after she told him to stop groping her has vowed not to let threats of violence stop her challenging sexual assaults.

Mary Brandon was dancing with friends when her bottom was groped by the man at Notting Hill Carnival in west London during the Bank Holiday weekend.

But when she told the man to stop and not repeat what he was doing, he punched her in the face with such force she had to be taken to hospital and was left with a swollen face and painful bruising.

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the “coward” get away with it. The image has been shared thousands of times.

Ms Brandon has thanked the NHS nurses and carnival officials who helped her on Monday after the attack.

She has also posted a message criticising her attacker and his sexist violence next to the photo. She described him groping her and said when she asked him to stop, he did the same again.

“I pushed him away, exercising my right to tell man to stop touching my body without permission, so he took a swing at me and punched me in the face,” she wrote.

The graphic image showed her right eye bloodied and bulging, with bruising across her face, which needed treatment at the carnival and in hospital.

She added: “Carnival is supposed to be about community and good vibes.

“I wanted to have a good time but instead I spent nine hours in A&E because of this coward.

“A woman should be able to leave the house without fear of being sexually assaulted.

“And she should be able to defend herself without being put in hospital.

“The saddest this about this for me was discussing with my friends afterward whether in future it would be best not to do anything at all.

“Maybe it would be safer to just ignore it when someone invades your space and body.”

Police said there were a number of assaults and sexual assaults reported to have taken place at the carnival.

Ms Brandon added: “I can honestly say I will always stand up to someone who thinks they can get away with this behaviour and I would take a punch again from this loser or any other loser who thinks it is ok to treat women like this.”

Read the rest of the article here.

                   

“Wednesday” by Olivia Cole

“We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. Like the images the photographer plunges into a golden bath, our sentiments take on color; and only then, after that recoil and that transfiguration, do we understand their real meaning and enjoy them in all their tranquil splendor.” ~ Georges Duhamel, from The Heart’s Domain

“La petite fille aux feuilles mortes” (Paris, 1947)
by Édouard Boubat

“Poetry does not exist: it must be made, endlessly searched for.”
~ Édouard Boubat, from The Monograph

Two for Tuesday: Celebrating National Poetry Day: October 2 (a bit late)

Tuesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and muggy, 76 degrees.

It shouldn’t be muggy, but then again, I should not be surprised that it is so. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 80’s. Is it any wonder that my body just doesn’t know what to do with itself?

Perhaps one day I shall live somewhere where the ushering in of autumn means actual consecutive days of cooler temperatures, a prelude to the cold weather of winter. Perhaps.

Anyway, I missed National Poetry Day, which is actually acknowledged in Britain, but hey. Poetry, right? This year’s theme is remember, or remembrance, or memory, or what have you. The Forward Arts Foundation site has more information on the day and the celebrations.

Here are a few of the remember poems listed on the site:

I remember, I remember by Thomas Hood
Do you remember an inn, Miranda? by Hilaire Belloc
Remember me when I am gone away by Christina Rossetti

I’ve chosen two of my favorites below. And to highlight the poetic theme, I thought that I’d use images by a photographer/photojournalist whose work was always described as being poetic: Édouard Boubat. I’ve always loved how his Lella images (taken when they were in their 20s) seemed to reflect her as being in the midst of deep contemplation.

                    

Lella,_Edouard_Boubat,_Bretagne,_1947

“Lella” (1947)
by Édouard Boubat

 What the Heart Cannot Forget

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

~ Joyce Sutphen

                   

Édouard Boubat Untitled 1948 Paris

Untitled (1948, Paris)
by Édouard Boubat

The Word

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli,” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing

that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.

~ Tony Hoagland

All images are by French photographer Edouard Boubat (1923-1999).

                   

Music by Radical Face, “The Guilded Hand”

“Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go.” ~ Henry Austin Dobson

Wilhelm Trübner Der Starnberger See 1911 oil on canvas

“Der Starnberger See” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Wilhelm Trübner


 Two for Tuesday: Autumn

Vincent van Gogh The Stone Bench in the Garden at Saint-Paul Hospital 1889

“The Stone Bench in the Garden at Saint-Paul Hospital” (1889)
by Vincent van Gogh

How To Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,

answers to what comes next and how to like it.

~ Stephen Dobyns

                   

Andre Ficus Herbststimmung am Bodensee aquarelle

“Herbststimmung am Bodensee” (aquarelle auf Japan)
by André Ficus

The Attic

It’s September: I’ve moved into town,
into the attic of an old barn—a big open room I reach
by climbing a ladder that rises through a hole in the floor.
The room is long and high, with windows at each end,
a row of skylights that leak rain, and shake
and chatter in the northeast winds. I sleep beneath
the roof’s steep pitch, my mattress flat on the boards,
looking up at the high ceiling, where morning
diffuses downward in grains of bright dust.

This was the old painter’s studio.
The light in those famous canvases is still here
—he couldn’t carry it away with him—
though his paintings took away everything else,
opening space with a stroke of blue or yellow.
I think of his violent loves, the stories
they still tell about him here.
But how quiet and alive his paintings were,
how they quiver with the life not yet realized.

~ Cynthia Huntington

                   

Music by Band of Horses, “Window Blues”

 

“It’s not about the words. It’s about the memories lost inside the words.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Congenial Spirits: The Selected Letters of Virginia Woolf

Jackson Pollock Number 2

“Number 2″ (1951, collage oil)
by Jackson Pollock


 

“Sometimes you finish the poem, and that last piece clicks in place. Sometimes the poem is finished with you.” ~ Frederick Seidel, from The Art of Poetry No. 95

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and seemingly warmer, 74 degrees.

I hate this house. It’s lovely outside, but inside it’s humid and mucky. Oh well.

I wrote this one a few days ago. It came to me, as they sometimes do, and I did a revision, and then I went back to revise again, and it refused. Sometimes the poem does what it wants, and you are left looking on, wondering how that happened . . .

Oh well . . .

This is my first time in trying to import a PDF using Google docs, so let me know if it doesn’t work, please. I think if you click on the blue left arrow, the poem shows up . . . maybe? Not sure . . .


Music by Gossling, “Riptide”

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc . . .

Berthe Morisot Fall Colors in the Bois de Boulogne 1888

“Fall Colors in the Bois de Boulogne” (1888, watercolor)
by Berthe Morisot


Two for Tuesday: Post hoc

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy and cooler, 66 degrees.

It’s a “West Wing” kind of day . . .

Josh Lyman: Someone give me a river to forge, a serpent to slay.

C.J. Cregg: What’s his problem?

Donna Moss: He’s been drinking from the keg of glory. We’re to bring him all the muffins and bagels in the land.

Toby Ziegler: We heard.

Well if every week were to begin with a Monday like my yesterday, I doubt I would ever leave my bed. Let’s just say that it was a day worthy of Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives: Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.

All three of my children were in crises, and I was in the midst of a massive migraine brought on by stress and lack of sleep. It was a mixture of illness, stress, bills, and life. Somehow we all muddled through and managed to take care of a few pressing issues. And somehow I was able to sleep last night, short bursts of sound sleep, interrupted by my dogs’ incessant need to wander into the back yard in the middle of the night and look around, sniff the air and . . . just stand there as if they had all of the time in the world.

Anyway, I talked to Corey last night, and he seemed to be in the midst of his arm of the Murphy’s corollary, with things not going all that well for him either. Sometimes, sleep is the only answer.

                   

Edvard Munch Elm Forest in Autumn 1919-20

“Elm Forest in Autumn” (1919-20)
by Edvard Munch

After All This

After all this love, after the birds rip like scissors
through the morning sky, after we leave, when the empty
bed appears like a collapsed galaxy, or the wake of
disturbed air behind a plane, after that, as the wind turns
to stone, as the leaves shriek, you are still breathing
inside my own breath. The lighthouse on the far point
still sweeps away the darkness with the brush of an arm.
The tides inside your heart still pull me towards you.
After all this, what are these words but mollusk shells
a child plays with? What could say more than the eloquence
of last night’s constellations? or the storm anchored by
its own flashes behind the far mountains? I remember
the way your body wavers under my touch like the northern
lights. After all this, I want the certainty of hidden roots
spreading in all directions from their tree. I want to hear
again the sky tangled in your voice. Some nights I can
hear the footsteps of the stars. How can these words
ever reveal the secret that waits in their sleeping light?
The words that walk through my mind say only what has
already passed. Beyond, the swallows are still knitting
the wind. After a while, the smokebush will turn to fire.
After a while, the thin moon will grow like a tear in a curtain.
Under it, a small boy kicks a ball against the wall of
a burned out house. He is too young to remember the war.
He hardly knows the emptiness that kindles around him.
He can speak the language of early birds outside our window.
Someday he will know this kind of love that changes
the color of the sky, and frees the earth from its moorings.
Sometimes I kiss your eyes to see beyond what I can imagine.
Sometimes I think I can speak the language of unborn stars.
I think the whole earth breathes with you. After all this,
these words are all I have to say what is impossible to think,
what shy dreams hide in the rafters of my heart, because
these words are only a form of touch, only tell you I have no life
that isn’t yours, and no death you couldn’t turn into a life.

~ Richard Jackson

                   

Anne Redpath A Borders River Landscape, Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh

“A Borders River Landscape, Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh” (nd, oil on board)
by Anne Redpath

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray. When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

~ Stanley Kunitz

                   

Music by Great Lake Swimmers, “Moving Pictures Silent Films”