“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Dance Dance Dance

Chang Dai-chien Splasher Color no title2

Splashed Color (nd, no title, color and ink on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

                   

“Almost impossible to sleep; plagued by dreams, as if they were being scratched on me, on a stubborn material.” ~ Franz Kafka, from Diaries

Wednesday early evening. Partly cloudy, 83 degrees.

Lots of drizzle the past few days mixed in with scattered thunderstorms. My body has reflected the weather: I feel dampened, pending somehow, as if something is incipient. Yesterday, I wasn’t able to get out of bed for most of the day. Hate days like that, but there was nothing for it. I just wasn’t able.

Chang Dai-chien Splashed Color no title

Splashed Color (nd, no title, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

I’ve spent days and days calculating square footage, calculating how much insulation, how many tiles, how much backerboard, etcetera. I am nothing if not a stickler for precision. I know that this is not what Corey had planned when he said he was going to tear out the bathroom, but there was no point in doing it halfway only to have to do more before we sold it.

Tile board (which he had planned to use) looks cheap, but it serves its purpose in a rental property. We’re going with ceramic and mosaic tile. Essentially, we’re gutting down to the studs and starting over. I keep waking in the middle of the night and going to the computer to check something, to make absolutely sure that I have allowed for this or that. Corey says he’ll just be glad when we start to that I will quit obsessing. I concur.

Tomorrow we go to the big box stores to get what I couldn’t get online. Luckily, because it’s the 4th, Corey gets credit for his military service, and we get a 10 percent discount. Any discount is better than no discount.

“I need the shade of blue that rips your heart out. You don’t see that type of blue around here.” ~ Cath Crowley, from Graffiti Moon

Aside from preparing for the bathroom reno, there isn’t much going on. We’re still struggling with puppy training. Still lots of hit or miss. I told Corey that not every dog can be as intelligent as Tillie who seemed to train herself that first week. Bailey makes up for the mistakes in cuteness, though. Would that all of life were so . . .

Chang Dai-chien Snow Storm, Switzerland

“Snow Storm, Switzerland” (nd, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

Ever since my last post about that memory, I have been melancholy. I couldn’t put a name to why, exactly, but it’s here. I know that when I have these health relapses it always throws me, makes me afraid that I’m regressing to those first months after going out on disability when I was so dependent on everyone else, when I could do so very little on my own. That kind of dependence is frightening, perhaps because it may be a precursor to how life will be in the latter years, when so much of life is beyond your control.

I think of Corey’s grandfather, my own mother, how the years are not friendly to the elderly. I watch my mother diminish little by little, unable to finish sentences, repeating things she’s already told me five times. It’s painful. I can do little but watch and try not to add the phrase “I already told you this” to my sentences when we talk.

“I do not want my voice to go out into the air while my heart is sinking.” ~ E. M. Forster, from The Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction”

What am I afraid of, really? Dying without ever doing anything? Without accomplishing a damned thing?

Chang Dai-chien Snowy Mountain

“Snowy Mountain” (nd, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

Yes.

I am mightily fearful that my life will have meant nothing when I am gone, that I will have left my children with little, not monetarily, but in the ways that mean the most—in the kinds of memories that they will share with their children, the remembrance of small moments that might still conjure a smile.

I am afraid that I will reach my last days and that I will still be sitting here wondering when I’m going to get around to writing that book, trying to decided whether or not I should get a doctorate. I don’t want to be that person, that lost soul who never quite found her way. I don’t want people to remember me as the woman who never did anything, who never lived up to her potential.

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Thus Spake Zarathustra

God that sounds so narcissistic, as if I have so much to give, so much to contribute. What makes me any different from the next woman, from the woman in the car next to me at the stoplight, the one who is keeping time on her steering wheel, all the while wondering if she remembered to thaw anything for dinner . . .

Chang Dai-chien Mist at Dawn ink and wash 1974

“Mist at Dawn” (1974, ink and wash on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

It’s ridiculous, I know, but I still fancy myself that mysterious woman, the one who people wondered about, the one who a professor referred to as a woman of mystery. I like to pretend that’s still me, even though the mystery has faded, and I am just another person trying to get along, trying to survive without going mad.

Can I tell you a secret? Of course, it isn’t much of a secret considering where I am at the moment, but anyway—I always relished my differentness. Not a word, I know, but difference isn’t quite accurate. I have liked being different, not being able to fit into any predetermined niche. I have liked that very much. I have liked that I do not have blond hair and blue eyes, that my name is not ordinary, that my lineage is not easily identifiable.

And yet, there were days when I would have given anything to be like everyone else. Granted, I was still but a child, but to be different when you are a child is a very hard thing.

“He carries stars in his pockets because he knows she fears the dark. Whenever sadness pays her a visit, he paints galaxies on the back of her hands.” ~ Alaska Gold

There was a scene recently in a show that I follow in which the detective goes inside a closet and looks up; she sees stars, the kind of luminous plastic stars that you can stick to the ceiling in a child’s room. I have those stars above my bed. They used to be in the shape of a few constellations. I took great care in the placement, but in the years since, some have fallen down, and the constellations are incomplete. It wouldn’t have taken much to replace the ones that fell, but I chose not to because somehow the incompleteness of what I had created seemed to make more sense.

Chang Dai-chien Diety Trees 1970 ink and color on paper

“Diety Trees” (1970, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

And that, my friends, is the true story of my life.

I gravitate towards the incomplete, the imperfect, the jagged and the broken, the lost, the wandering. It’s a harder road, one that fits squarely inside Frost’s maxim about the less traveled path. I remember I came upon that poem in high school, and it made perfect sense to me.

Why choose the road that everyone else has already taken? Discoveries cannot be made on such roads. Everything new under the sun, if there is still such a thing, will not be on a well-trod path. This I know, but I also admit that I probably could have avoided many falls and scrapes had I chosen differently.

“Look at how beautiful this ink is. Now do you understand why I needed clear water? Water is the brightness of the day and the whiteness of the paper. Black is the velvet of night and the satiny ink of the paintbrush. If you know how to make ink correctly, you will never again be afraid of nightmares.” ~ Françoise Place, from Hokusai (The Old Man Mad About Drawing)

Chang Dai-chien Earth

“Earth” (nd, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I once wrote a poem about my ex called “For My Husband, Returning to His Lover” in the style of Anne Sexton’s “For My Lover Returning to his Wife.” I mention this now because I remember a particular passage of my poem in which I refer to my stretch marks:

Look closely, these faint gray lines
at the tops of both my thighs, surely
she has not acquired anything
quite as exquisite.  Mine are badges,
earned by keeping pace with him
for decades–the many treks
we made across life’s arduous terrain.

Each scar on my body is a story. And had I gone the easy way, I would not have these stories to tell. I don’t regret any of it.

Chang Dai-chien Spring Clouds 1965 ink and color on paper

“Spring Clouds” (1965, ink and color on paper)
by Chang Dai-chien

Look, I once refused to go on antidepressants because I wouldn’t be able to write. I told that particular doctor—who was a misogynistic quack—that he just didn’t understand, that I was nothing without my extreme highs and lows. Later, a doctor who I respected convinced me otherwise, but there is a part of me that still remembers the intensity of living without medication, and I would be lying if I said that I don’t wish that I had that, had those intense emotions all of the time, but the truth is that living day-to-day with such emotions will kill you, sometimes quickly, and sometimes slowly.

This post has taken on a life of its own, which is what happens when I suddenly unleash the floodgates.

Enough.

More later. Peace.

(I am late in discovering Chinese artist Chang Dai-chien, also known as Zhang Daqian (1899-1983). In 2012, “Lotus and Mandarin Ducks (1947), a  painting by the artist fetched $191 million (Hong Kong) at auction. The price was more than nine times Sotheby’s estimate of HK$20 million.)

Music by Gretchen Peters, “On a Bus to St. Cloud”

We Should Be

We should be born old,
Come wise into the world
Already able to choose our destiny,
Already knowing the pathways that lead from the crossroads of the origin.
Then, it would only be irresponsible to yearn to go ahead.
Afterwards, we’d gradually grow younger,
Come to the gateway of creation mature and strong,
Pass through, and enter into love as adolescents,
Then be children when our children are born.
They’d immediately be older than we are.
They’d teach us to talk; they’d rock us to sleep in a cradle,
And then we’d disappear, getting smaller and smaller,
Like a grape, like a pea, like a grain of wheat …

~ Ana Blandiana

Happy Father’s Day

mom, dad & me in England

Cherish them while you can . . .

                   

My father’s hands

are gnarled and time worn

Atrophy has eaten away at the muscles,

leaving his hands weak and small.

They remind me of a monkey’s hands—

brown and leathery.

These hands that have tended to so many machines—

fixed so many moving parts

These same hands have stroked the hair on my sons’ heads

and lovingly cradled my daughter’s face.

With these hands he has planted generations of gardens,

patted down the earth around all of the tender shoots.

He has cast lines into many waters,

unhooked his catch again and again,

alone under the moon on warm summer nights.

These hands held the back of my first two-wheeler—

blue with silver fenders and tassels streaming from the handlebars,

before finally letting me go to find my way on my own,

and they have wiped the blood and picked the gravel

from my skinned knees,

patched my wounds,

only to let me go again.

They patiently whittled the sticks to frame a homemade kite,

taught me the right way to pound a nail into wood

and how to make a seam true.

I have watched these hands make fine knots in a net

with the same careful tenderness

as when they held an injured dog as it lay dying.

And I watched these same hands pull a drowning woman

from a deadly current

with a strength I hadn’t known they possessed.

A world away in another lifetime,

my father’s hands wielded a rifle and a machete

in the jungles of a homeland that he left behind—

but never forgot.

Now, I watch his hands move back and forth

in morphine dreams,

sewing imaginary threads through invisible garments.

I look on helplessly as they pleat the stiff white sheets

and knit them to and fro, over and over.

In the few moments when they are still,

I hold my father’s hands close to my chest,

against my beating heart—

they are so diminished within my own.

These hands

that have labored and loved

harvested and hewn

These hands are the man he was

and the life he lived.

And now that his days are waning,

I want nothing more

than to be taken back to that one innocent moment

when everything was safe,

and nothing could harm me

because I was cloaked in my father’s inviolable protection,

taken back to that instant

when he held the fender of my bike

and guided me on the path.

touched me on the shoulder once

before setting me free to find my way.

L. Liwag

May 31, 2001

                   

Music by Mike and the Mechanics, “The Living Years”

“And never have I felt so deeply at one and, at the same time, so detached from myself, and so present in the world.” ~ Albert Camus

Norman Smith, Landscape II, pastel on paper

“Landscape II” (nd, pastel on paper)
by Norman Smith

                   

“She was desperate and she was choosey at the same time and, in a way, beautiful, but she didn’t have quite enough going for her to become what she imagined herself to be.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from Factotum

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and 68 degrees.

Norman Smith, Venice Impression pastel on paper

“Venice Impression” (nd, pastel on paper)
by Norman Smith

I still don’t feel that I can string together sentences in any meaningful way, especially since I am struggling for each and every word. I find myself staring at the screen until my eyes completely lose focus, and then I don’t remember where I was going with a train of thought. These phases are nothing new and I know that my inability to find the right words will be a reality that I will have to face again and again without every knowing why.

So, with that in mind, I think that I will just do a random thoughts post, well, because it seems to make the most sense right now . . .

  • I dreamed last night that the feral cats that live in the park bushes all came out at the same time and sat in a group in the entrance drive to the park. They were all black.
  • Brett finally got the radical hair cut he’s been pining for: shaved on the sides and longer on top. Now he’s going to bleach the tips and color them pink. It should be pretty wild once he’s finished.  I can’t wait to hear what my mother has to say about it.
  • Actually, I can wait.
  • The spring pollen is wicked at the moment. Everything has a nasty yellow sheen.
  • So far, I am disappointed in this new season of “Dr. Who.” Just saying . . .

“How fragile we are, between the few good moments.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Vinegar and Oil”

  • A few days ago, I experienced something that I haven’t experienced in a very, very long time: I felt pretty. Not vapid pretty, not glossy print pretty, but pretty all over, inside and out.

    Norman Smith, Last Reflected Light, pastel

    “Last Reflected Light” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • It must have been obvious because my PCP with whom I had my six-month check-up said to me a couple of time that I looked good, really good, better than she had seen me in a while.
  • Does that mean I look horrible the rest of the time?
  • What causes days like that? Is it an alignment of the stars?
  • The “I Feel Pretty” song from West Side Story kept running through my head, particularly the line “It’s a pity not every girl can feel this way.”
  • To be honest, I can’t recall a time in recent memory that I had this feeling, and that’s sad because it was a wonderful feeling.

“We are what suns and winds and waters make us.” ~ Walter Savage Lindor, from “An Invocation”

  • I finally went to a dermatologist to have the mole on my face looked at. It’s completely benign, on the surface of the skin. The doctor was pretty funny, using euphemisms for age and old, i.e. “wisdom,” “knowledge.” He said that it was what used to be called a beauty mark and that it brought out my eyes. What a character.
  • I like doctors who don’t take themselves so seriously. That whole god-complex attitude really breeds antipathy rather quickly.

    Norman Smith, Norfolk Marsh, pastel on paper

    “Norfolk Marsh” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • My mother’s doctor said that the shadow that was on her kidneys has almost disappeared; apparently, the heavy-duty antibiotic they prescribed for the diverticulitis has taken care of everything, which makes me wonder why she was told that there was a “mass” on her kidneys.
  • So why am I so consumed lately with an intense yearning to have my flabby arms fixed? she asked, apropos of nothing.
  • The dermatologist remarked that I didn’t have crow’s feet, and I thought to myself that you have to smile and laugh a lot to get crow’s feet.
  • I go back in two weeks to get the bump on the sole of my left foot removed. It’s been there for years and years, and it, too, is benign, but I’m really tired of it.

“One got the impression that she was following phantoms; she was consumed by shivering sensations of eternally pursuing something unattainable. Something about her was tear-streaming; she existed in the midst of unconsciousness. And she could only be seen not by those who ceased looking but rather by those who absolutely exhausted it.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, The Collected Stories Of Katherine Mansfield

  • I finally got the paperwork back from the living will registry, and guess what? They misspelled my last name. People always put a y where the g goes, which makes no sense to me.
  • If my name is misspelled on my living will, does that mean that it is applicable to someone other than me?
  • If your name is misspelled on your birth certificate, does that mean that you don’t exist?

    Norman Smith, Marsh Sunrise, Pastel on Paper

    “Marsh Sunrise” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • I had students in my 6th grade class who couldn’t spell their names. What does that tell you?
  • My last name has the same number of letters as Smith or Jones, so how do people manage to screw it up so badly?
  • “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” Man, Nabokov made even the pronunciation of my first name sound sexual.
  • Have I ever mentioned how much I hate that my first name is associated with young girls, with jailbait, with dirty old men? It is a short poem, but society has turned it into a blasphemy.

“She walked roads no one else could see, and it made her music wild and strange and free.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, from The Wise Man’s Fear

  • I am so glad that Brett’s spring semester is almost over because I’m exhausted.
  • I really am, exhausted, that is. Bone-weary. I don’t know if the lack of energy is allergy-related, tied in with my fibromyalgia, a reflection of my dour mood, or a combination. I just know that I’m damned tired.

    Norman Smith, One Tuscan Evening

    “One Tuscan Evening” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • A couple of days ago I pulled all of my purses out of my closet—not intentionally, but I couldn’t find the one that I wanted to use. Then my bedroom flood was covered with purses, and I was too tired to put them away, so I stepped over them for two days. Pathetic.
  • When I finish this sham of a post, I have two baskets of clothes to put away. I may read instead.
  • I love having Olivia over here, but I’m so tired when she goes home, especially if she spends the night.
  • Corey is supposed to be home around May 10, just in time for our anniversary. He’s probably getting off the ship at that time because they are going deep-sea for 45 days after that, and he doesn’t want to do that. I’m glad, but of course, I’m worried.
  • The dermatologist said that I have worry lines. I refrained from retorting, “No. Really?”

More later. Peace.

All images are by British artist Norman Smith.

Music by Adaline, “Keep Me High”

                   

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

~ Mary Oliver

“The wind is us—it gathers and remembers all our voices, then sends them talking and telling through the leaves and the fields.” ~ Truman Capote

Angel in Irish Cemetery
Photographer Unknown

                   

Things they never tell you:

How to resolve
the paradox of
watching someone take her last breath
when you have seen her take her first.

Things you wish you didn’t know:

How to clean your father
after
he’s soiled himself,
but begs you
not to call for help.

Things you wish you’d never seen:

Blood oozing
around
the edges of a scalpel
cutting into your daughter’s chest.

Things you wish you’d never overheard:

“They all throw up
after chemo. What
do you want me to do about it?”

Things you wish you’d never touched:

Your dead father’s eyelids
as he lay
in his coffin.

Things they tell you that are lies:

It won’t hurt
like this
forever.

Things you say that are untrue:

I’ve forgotten
how her skin smells.

Things you wish you could forget:

How
her skin smells.

Things you wish you could remember:

The sound of your father’s voice
before the morphine
consumed him

Things you wish you didn’t know (part two):

The names
of brain tumors
and medications
that can paralyze and infant.

Things that leave you hollow:

The emptiness
of a cemetery
on
a cloudy afternoon.

Things you can’t escape:

The last week in March
and
the first week in November

Things that haunt you still:

The sound a ventilator makes
in
a small white room.

Things that scar your heart:

Grief’s
pervasive sting.

Things that rend your spirit:

The passing of Halloween
and
the relentless onslaught of November.

Things that break your soul:

The interminable moments
between the final breath
and
the last heartbeat.

Things they never tell you (part two):

You will regret this decision
until
the last warm breath
leaves your lungs.

Things you wish you’d never said (part one):

It’s time.

Things you wish you’d never said (part two):

It’s time.

Things you’re glad you said:

It’s okay.
You can go now.

Things no one can truly know:

Sorrow
is an uncharitable
sea.

Things they never say:

Grief
is an
endless abyss.

L. Liwag
Monday, November 5, 2012

“How would you describe it: blue, sapphire-hued, endless?” ~ Mati Unt, from Things in the Night

Watercolour: Hangarua Spring
by Titirangi Storyteller

                   

The Color of Water

If I could see my soul
would I know it,
recognize its form—
a hawk in flight, perhaps
or something not quite
so majestic.

How to tell
what lies
within
when so much
of every day
obscures
and cloaks.

Perhaps it is as blue
as I always thought
it would be.

L. Liwag

                    

Music by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, “This is How it’s Meant to Be”

“The sky creaks with the plumes of unread poets.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from In That Great River: A Notebook (trans. by Clare Cavanagh)

On the Rocks by Titirangi Storyteller

                   

“Writing down your thoughts is both necessary and harmful. It leads to eccentricity, narcissism, preserves what should be let go. On the other hand, these notes intensify the inner life, which, left unexpressed, slips through your fingers.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from In That Great River: A Notebook*

Sunday evening.

Thoughts, no structure.

The name Anna sounds like a song, backwards or forwards. A woman named Anna will always know who she is. It would be hard to lose yourself with such a name.

◊◊◊◊◊

“Lolita,” “Lo-lee-ta,” “Lo. Lee. Ta.” The three syllable siren song that drove Humbert Humbert mad. A graduate Renaissance teacher said I should un-hyphenate my name and use only Lolita Liwag, change the long e sound in Liwag to a short i with the emphasis on the second syllable instead of the first (lo-lee’-ta le-wog’), second syllables emphasized so that the name rolled off the tongue. Re-name myself, born again as the writer I am not, the woman who might love words better, treat with them, make a separate peace, finally.

◊◊◊◊◊

Lolita. I hated this name so much when I was young that I created an alternative name. a character for myself—Yvonne Wingate, the name of a wealthy woman, this woman I envisioned—

a woman with a swimming pool in her backyard, a woman who wore large sunglasses and drank champagne.

Lo-li-ta could not do these things, only in Nabokov’s novel.

◊◊◊◊◊

My name, unused, slips through my fingers like the unwritten thoughts of poems.

“A whisper.
To speak in a whisper.
To whisper—like the sea.” ~ Anna Kamienska

Do you look out over the sea at night? Do you see the moon and stars reflected on the water. Do you smell the salt air. Does it feel like home? Are you looking at the same patch of sky that my father saw. In that moment, can you feel what he felt?

Do the sirens whisper your name as they whispered his?

Tell me: Does the siren song in the middle of the night sound like the wind or the stars or fallen angels?

Tell me.

“Why do I need these landscapes? The image of the sea draws me out of myself, forces all my attention to the surface so that I can cast my thought into the depths once again.” ~ Anna Kamienska

I remember the sensation of standing at the edge of the ocean and gripping the wet sand with my toes. I see myself running barefoot along the shore, gull wings flapping in my wake, sand crabs scurrying away from my feet.

Memory: Digging into the sand with my toes and feeling something wiggling on my foot, some kind of sea slug, a broad smile across my face, the face of a child who still knows happiness.

Another: Indian Summer, a long weekend on the shore, a purple sunset, sitting lotus-position on the sand until the sky turned black, my fact wet with tears.

◊◊◊◊◊

A full moon reflecting on the mirror-like surface of calm water—like a dark pane of glass. If I looked into it, I could fall through. Almost stopping the car, the need to fall into the depths overpowering.

At one time I had thought to name my first book White Moon on Dark Water.

“Circles of solitude exist, just like circles of dreams and waking, just like the circles of hell.” ~ Anna Kamienska

I love that time of night when I alone am awake,
the darkest part of night when anything seems possible,
before the sky begins to lighten.
The darkness like a cloak, heavy and impermeable.

When the darkness fades,
the light comes, the cloak disappears—
dawn is not kind to me.

◊◊◊◊◊

My dreams are populated with the dead who look no older—

the baby, the father, the uncle, the mother, the friend (the dead not dead)

—those who left know me best.

“In fact, though, writing is the backbreaking work of hacking a footpath, as in a coal mine; in total darkness, beneath the earth. In poetry there are moments of illumination. A streak of light falls in the dark corridor, then the darkness slams shut overhead once more.

In prose the darknesses are even thicker, the black clods even harder.” ~ Anna Kamienska

In seeking the right words, the write words, I stammer, stumble, and retreat. Forward is too hard. Forward is greyness, the great expanse I have set between my words and my succor—peace at last, the goal that eludes me.

The expanse is both desert and forest, simultaneously flat and endless and filled with dark woods unfriendly to my journey. I do not take the step, fearful of the brambles, the parched earth, the impenetrable column—

first trees, then men with bayonets
calling for blood, my blood
I have trespassed where I do not belong—

A blurred dream. A nightmare

You left me a bequest: the earth, birds, trees. But I don’t know what to do with them.” ~ Anna Kamienska

A scarred wooden shelf lined with jars of wild honey made of thistle, eucalyptus, wild thyme. Below, baskets of mountain apples. The air is heavy with a natural elixir.

◊◊◊◊◊

Did Saint Francis love the bees, love their miracle of liquid gold?

◊◊◊◊◊

We walk beneath the trees in the gloaming, the path takes us up, to the sky, almost, close enough. I smell loam, a mountain stream. A deer pauses before crashing away from us. We are the enemy here.

◊◊◊◊◊

What shall I do with these armfuls of autumn days?

In recording these thoughts I also have a sense of assimilated time, its duration within me. Even if I don’t return to these poor notes—within me they are the assimilated material of time. In this sense they are my real life, more real than whatever might occur in daylight.” ~ Anna Kamienska

This record of my thoughts brings me no comfort.

◊◊◊◊◊

Time is still fractured.

◊◊◊◊◊

Paris—a loft, candles, stale bread, hard cheese, wine, cigarette smoke heavy in the air. Beyond the atelier, Eliot’s mermaids’ song drifts on the night wind. Fitzgerald keeps me company. Zelda is gone, dying alone in an asylum. Hemingway has passed out on the floor. The empty whiskey bottle rolls across the uneven floor. Sylvia Plath wants to clean the oven. Vincent sits in the wooden chair, sighs, bereft that the blue is all gone. Carson McCullers died on the deck of the steamer before I could tell her I knew, knew as much as I could. (All of those people in her books, alone, sad, sick with guilt and pain.)

Broken bottles are embedded in the wall below for Forché’s colonel. If I look out the window, I can see Gatsby’s flashing light across the water. Yes, the waves still beat back. Beneath the fire, rust.

The sorrows of my changing face, Yeats named them.

The heart is an organ of fire, Almaszy said.

*All header quotes are taken from Anna Kamienska’s In That Great River: A Notebook, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanaugh

Music by Sia, “Lullaby (song from Hereafter)”

                   

Rereading Frost

Sometimes I think all the best poems
have been written already,
and no one has time to read them,
so why try to write more?

At other times though,
I remember how one flower
in a meadow already full of flowers
somehow adds to the general fireworks effect

as you get to the top of a hill
in Colorado, say, in high summer
and just look down at all that brimming color.
I also try to convince myself

that the smallest note of the smallest
instrument in the band,
the triangle for instance,
is important to the conductor

who stands there, pointing his finger
in the direction of the percussions,
demanding that one silvery ping.
And I decide not to stop trying,

at least not for a while, though in truth
I’d rather just sit here reading
how someone else has been acquainted
with the night already, and perfectly.

~ Linda Pastan