Sunday afternoon, sunny, chance of thunderstorms, 79 degrees.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads, stepdads, granddads, and single dads and single moms doing the job of being both mom and dad, and all of the other unsung heroes out there . . . Hope you have a wonderful day and year.
My Papa’s Waltz
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
~ Theodore Roethke
Music by Michael Paul Lawson, “Memories and Throttle”
“More and more I have the sense of being present at a point of absence where crossing centuries may prove to be like crossing languages. Soundwaves. It’s the difference between one stillness and another stillness.” ~ Susan Howe, from “The Disappearance Approach”
Not really sure that I have a lot to say today. I sit and stare at the quotes I have gathered for today’s post, hoping that some word or phrase will inspire me, but nothing happens. It’s as if words themselves have decided to take a hiatus in my brain; they do not wish to appear in cogent ways for me.
I had another’s doctor’s appointment yesterday, for my annual female exam, and I actually managed to get there on time. I asked the doctor doing the exam if she could take a look at my hand, which I injured the other day while trying to shoot a gun. Her response was actually quite witty: “Well, that’s not your vagina, and I’m here to look at your vagina.”
The office that I was in is set up with residents and two attending physicians, so I suppose as this particular resident was on vagina duty, she couldn’t really help with the big oozing gash on my hand unless the attending physician agreed. Ultimately, though, she looked at it as did the attending. As I had suspected, I should have gotten stitches when it happened, but it was the day after Max’s death, and I was in no shape to go anywhere or talk to anyone, so I didn’t go. As a result, the gash, which is about an inch long, isn’t really healing well. Yesterday I couldn’t touch my little finger to my thumb because of the swelling.
I was prescribed some doxycycline, but as we are more than flat broke, I cannot pick it up. Yet another case of being too poor to be healthy.
“Alone with wind. I came here to tell you I have loved everything once.” ~ Gregory Sherl, from “How to Brave Night”
Anyway, today the wound looks better, or at least I’m telling myself that. It isn’t too uncomfortable to type, so at least there’s that.
Corey is working on a structure for the goats. Bobby looks like she’s going to give birth soon, and we are fairly certain that Ruby is pregnant as well. I really hope that she is so that we can have at least a piece of Max to hold onto.
The two female goats that we bought in Roanoke are quite a pair, mother and daughter. If they become separated by more than a few feet, the daughter, Bobby, begins to bray loudly. It’s sweet, but it also functions as an alarm. If I hear Bobby making noise, it usually means that Sylvia has come inside the kitchen door. I don’t know what it is about these goats that makes them think that they should live in the house, unless it’s that Roland is still inside with us; he is quite spoiled and has his own alarm system: if Corey leaves the room in which Roland happens to still be situated, Roland begins to bleat very loudly and then runs through the house looking for him. I’m not the only one who spoils animals . . .
The dogs have been quite good in the last few days, and I’m hoping that I’ve broken them of chasing the goats. We’re both keeping a keen eye on them while everyone is outside, and if I yell out the door at them, they all immediately stop what they’re doing. Nevertheless, we must be ever vigilant. I really cannot handle a repeat of what happened to Max, and neither can Corey.
“I find I get more and more disagreeably solitary; In fact I foresee the day when I shall have gone too far into myself that there will no longer be anything to be seen of me at all.” ~ Vita Sackville-West, from letter to Virginia Woolf
It’s supposed to rain here for the next four days, and I’m trying to talk Corey into doing some painting inside. It’s at times like these that I really wish that his brothers were closer so that they could help him with some of what needs to be done. The reality is that I could probably paint a bit, but it’s more than that: we need to move furniture and other stuff, lifting that I simply cannot do. I feel so useless.
Lately I’ve been experiencing spasms in my lower back once again. I told Corey that even if my back gets bad again that there’s no way that I will ever have another back operation, not unless it’s the kind that can be done with a small incision and no long hospital stay.
Speaking of backs and mobility and such, I’ve been pondering yet again whether or not I should try to go back to work. I miss working, but more, I miss the income. However, if I did try to go back to work, my disability would cease, and then if something happened again, I would have to start the whole process once more, and it took so long with social security in the first place—two hearings, a stupid judge, two appeals, years of waiting. Honestly, I don’t know what to do.
I think of Eliot’s “Prufrock” poem: “Do I dare? Do I dare?” I really loved that poem so much, one of my all-time favorites.
“One can sometimes touch, in the distance between two people, a moment of another person’s endless dream.” ~ Yves Bonnefoy, from “Les Arbres” (The Trees), trans. John Naughton
And speaking of dogs and goats, Roland and Bailey continue their friendship. Roland has taken to butting Bailey’s head gently as she lays sleeping, and oddly enough, Bailey does nothing. She allows him to do whatever he wants to her, and I am quite amazed. He also licks her ears. I swear that this goat thinks that he’s a dog, and I’m uncertain as to how he’ll adjust to living outside once he’s weaned, which will be soon.
The other day Corey and I went over to Dallas’s house to look at the horses. Dallas says that he’s going to let me pick out some horses to have over here, but he’s still claiming that Napoleon cannot come yet. I want Napoleon and Petra to be returned, but I’m trying not to pin my hopes on anything that Dallas says as we all know that what he says should be taken with a very small grain of salt.
A while back (cannot remember if I mentioned this), one of Dallas’s RVs and part of his storage burned down. He claims that someone did it during the night, which is definitely possible as his feud with his nephew continues, but there is also the possibility that Dallas was so drunk that he started the first himself accidentally, or maybe even on purpose; however, he has no insurance, so I cannot think why he’d deliberately commit arson.
I hate that I even think these things of him.
While we were there, though, we picked a bunch of cherries from his cherry tree in the front yard. I’ve never seen such a big cherry tree. He says that he planted it when he first moved onto the property, which means that it is several decades old. I had no idea that fruit trees could survive for so long. The cherries are quite small, but tasty, and apparently, his dogs like to eat them, which is good as they all continue to look very malnourished.
“But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
I suppose I did have a few things to say, surprisingly enough, although I’m not sure how much more I have in me.
Look. The dry spell continues. My ability to string together words creatively continues to elude me. The joy that I normally find in writing these posts simply isn’t there, and I cannot seem to find that wellspring that houses my spark or my muse or whatever it is that is missing.
I would dearly love to know how to overcome this block so that once again this blog provides me with a sense of accomplishment as opposed to feeling that it is a burden that I approach reluctantly each time I try to compose. This blog has served me well for many years. I began it as an experiment, and it morphed into a way of life for me. I have very fond memories of sitting at my desk on Benjamin and rapidly writing 1,000 words without a second’s hesitation. I want that again. I need that again. And I think that I deserve to have that again in my life again.
Am I kidding myself? I truly do not know.
More later, I hope. Peace.
Feeling nostalgic for the British countryside today.*
Music by Winona Oak, “Don’t Save Me”
You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior
it was all roadside flowers & grasses
growing over the cities
was made of wilderness & sky
with God washed out of it
was the foreign prayer-word
it was a list of missing persons
was the solid bronze charging
bull on the famous street
was like the Roman method for making bees
was its taken-down carcass
& its bed of apple branches & thyme
was a new anatomy, a beaten hide,
a skeleton sweetening to glowing fluids,
& the bee born out, & the grist of them born
glistening as coins
it was anthem
was the listening,
the way a searchlight listens over a lake
it was the prayer-word out of your mouth
your thousand-noun request
it goes up up to the florescent weather
was an ivory box,
was hurdle & burn, burning through
the infinite, your overbright comet
was made of stones, made of berries & box tops & eggshells
it was like the word having reached the ear
& the words pollinated the dark, there was darkness there,
like the after-hours inside a library
“. . . but did you know the collective noun
for swans is a lamentation? And is a lamentation not
its own species of song?” ~ John Murillo, from “Upon Reading That Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds”
Tuesday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 77 degrees.
Today Corey and I are supposed to go to Bristol to pick up a baby Nubian goat to add to our herd, a young buck. I hope that he’s as cute as his pictures. He’s only three weeks old, so we’ll need to bottle feed him for another five or six weeks.
Today’s Two for Tuesday has a swan theme. I first featured the James Wright poem ten years ago, so I don’t feel bad about the repeat, especially as it is one of my all-time favorite poems. I love it even more now that I’ve more consistent time around horses.
Enjoy. More later. Peace.
There are girls who should have been swans.
At birth their feathers are burned;
their human skins never fit.
When the other children
line up on the side of the sun,
they will choose the moon,
their precious aberration.
They are the daughters mothers
worry about. All summer,
dressed i gauze, they flicker
inside the shaded house,
drawn to the mirror, where their eyes,
two languid moths, hang dreaming.
It’s winter they wait for, the first snowfall
with the stead interior hum
only they can hear;
they stretch their arms, as if they were wounded,
toward the bandages of snow.
Briefly, the world is theirs
in its perfect frailty.
~ Lisel Mueller
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
“Here I saw the truth of the horizon, the way of coming and going in this life. I never drifted up from my beginning: I rose as inexorably as heat.” ~ Denis Johnson, from “The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph”
Monday afternoon, partly cloudy and absolutely lovely, 76 degrees.
Apologies. It’s been a few days since I wrote anything here. I’ve been distracted, more than usual. I began listening to a podcast, “A New Winter.” I began listening last week, and then became so absorbed that I binged right through the weekend. Unlike the true crime genre to which I’m partial, it’s a creepy dramatization, and I was hooked, all the way through 62 episodes. Yep. Sixty-62.
I know. Too much, right?
Anyway, I had a Two for Tuesday planned, and then on Wednesday, I had another one of those doctor’s appointments that didn’t happen because my appointment had been changed somehow, or I changed it somehow, thinking that I was actually changing my neurologist’s appointment. I honestly don’t know, but I got ready, put on real clothes, arrived on time, only to be told that my appointment was on June 5. From that point on my week was wrecked.
So here I am, trying to start over, get back into the rhythm of writing, creating, putting something out there. Anything. We’ll just have to see how this goes. I do have new pictures of the farm and the animals, at least.
“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle, from an interview with The Guardian (10 April 2009)
So I’m sitting outside at yet another makeshift work station, kind of hunched over, and my back is protesting mightily. But it doesn’t matter because the birds are serenading, and the sun is peeking through the clouds, and the air is clean, and there’s a light breeze making the Dogwood tree sway and the bamboo wind chimes clatter in a non-jarring way. The goats and the dogs are outside, as well, and Ruby, the female goat just came by to have her ears scratched; Max isn’t quite as loving, and his crooked jaw makes him look, well, a little goofy, but he’ll eventually come to have his ears scratched.
I was sitting here a little while ago just listening to music and the birds and absolutely nothing else—no car horns, no sirens, no airplanes, no leaf blowers—nothing. Sometimes I forget to notice this nothingness, forget to appreciate what it took to achieve it. The last few years have been so freaking tumultuous, and sometimes it seemed like there was no end in sight, but there was, for the most part, perhaps not the ending that we had envisioned, but an ending of sorts, and now I’m here, sitting on property that is mine, and my nearest neighbors are far away.
No judgmental next-door neighbors peering over the fence, no city ordinances, no community rules. Of course, we also don’t have curbside recycling or trash pickup, and that is a definite loss, but in the grand scheme of things, I suppose we are still firmly on the plus side of the columns.
“Lift up your dark heart and sing a song about how time drifts past you like the gentlest, almost imperceptible breeze.” ~ Jim Harrison from “Cold Poem”
Corey needs to call the gas company to let them know that part of the driveway washed away with the most recent rain; they’re responsible for the upkeep of the drive since they have wells along the way—it’s a weird setup. But first he’s gone to Coeburn and Norton to pick up an ink cartridge for the printer so that I can send yet more forms to the IRS, trying to get us a waiver for Corey not having health insurance because, well, money.
I mean, I’m completely for the Affordable Care Act, but I’ve never understood penalizing people for not having health insurance if they cannot afford to have health insurance, and the only way that those same people can get out of the penalty is if they ask for it and justify the lack. That doesn’t even make sense. I’m fairly certain that a majority of people would have health insurance if they could actually afford it. Not having it really, really sucks. There should have been a built-in opt-out function for those of us without the funds to afford the coverage instead of a built-in penalty that you can only get rid of once you’ve been granted a waiver.
Anyway, I need to print those and another form, and something else. Honestly, it’s been a few days since I first tried to print only to find out that we were out of ink, so now I’ve forgotten. I’ll have to go back and look at my notes. I make lots and lots of notes, and the fact that I still don’t have my desk set up means that my post-its are still in a box somewhere, as are my colored paper clips that I used to organize papers, and all of that other helpful stuff that I’ve come to depend on over the years. Truthfully, I’ve had a long-standing love-affair with office products; don’t ask me why. Alexis has the same penchant, as well as an unhealthy attachment to large, oversized bags and purses. I cannot imagine where she got any of that from.
I need my notes. I just can’t function without them. I know my mind too well. I have no problems with long-term memory, or memories of most important events, or things like song lyrics, but ask me what I had planned to do in a few hours, and, well . . . not so much . . .
“The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary
I’m curious, actually. Does anyone even read these quotes? Does anyone out there find them as fascinating as I do? I mean, I spend a lot of time looking for my quotes, and then I spend an inexorable amount of time planning posts thematically, taking into consideration the kinds of posts that I tend to write the most, or thinking about something that I think that I might want to tackle in the future.
I’m asking because my tumblr meanderings, when I do them, are mostly in search of quotes, new poems and poets, and images. I’m not much for the other kinds of posts, but I’ve been thinking that perhaps I should post the quotes there and leave them out of my posts.
The problem, for me, as I see it, is that I’ve been using this format since almost the beginning: five quotes, a header quote, six images, a poem, and a song. It’s worked, or at least, it works for me—most of the time. The quotes are my springboard, as it were, a way to tap into my muse and see what comes out.
Who knows, really? Certainly not I.
“It had occurred to me that all human beings are divided into those who wish to move forward and those who wish to go back.” ~ Louise Glück, from “Faithful and Virtuous Night”
A very pregnant Sassy (we think)
Gate? What gate?Ruby says hello through the front door.
Maddy after having a swim in the big pond
I’m thinking that the only thing that would make being outside today better would be if we had a hammock set up. I really miss my hammock. I’ve always had a hammock, ever since I was first married to my ex. When I was living with my parents. they had this hammock thing that fit on a metal frame, but it was canvas. I used to spend a lot of time on that in the backyard, reading in the sun. I had actually forgotten about that.
I actually have a brand new cheap hammock that came in one of my subscription boxes; I doubt that it’s terribly comfortable, but I wouldn’t know because there isn’t anywhere here to attach it. We have a lot of trees, but they are either too close together, like the apple trees, or too far apart. Ideally, I’d love to get on of those frames from Costco and the big, double rope hammock. Ah yes, that would be the ticket.
Sine I first began this post, the sun has become obscured by more clouds, and the wind has picked up. I think that I’ll stay out here for a little longer and then go inside and try to do a bit of cleaning. I still haven’t figured out where all of the dust comes from that settles in the house so quickly. We don’t have the furnace running, no ceiling fans on, so where does all of the dust come from? I’m reminded of the importance of dust in Philip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials, but unfortunately, my dust isn’t magical. It’s been years since I read that, and I still haven’t gotten a copy of La Belle Sauvage, the first book in the follow-up trilogy even though it was published in 2017. It on my to-read list, which probably has about 200 things on it.
So much to do, so much to do . . . Books to read, cabinets to sand and paint, rooms to paint and unpack . . . And then there’s my car, which needs work, a barn that needs to be built . . . Ugh, enough for now.
More later. Peace.
Music by The Civil Wars, “Dust to Dust” (acoustic)
I want to gather your darkness
in my hands, to cup it like water
I want this in the same way
as I want to touch your cheek—
it is the same—
the way a moth will come
to the bedroom window in late September,
beating and beating its wings against the cold glass,
the way a horse will lower
his long head to water, and drink,
and pause to lift his head and look,
and drink again,
taking everything in with the water,
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, from The Name of the Wind
It was cold yesterday, so cold that we actually had to turn on a few space heaters. In fact, the forecast actually called for snow flurries. All I can say is that the weather in this locale is well and truly whhackkk. Yes, that’s a word.
I’ve been on a “Game of Thrones” binge lately, watching all of the back seasons before this final season. I’ve done this before, but what I always find phenomenal about this show is how much you can miss on a first viewing, especially all of the foreshadowing. The writers are very, very good in maintaining continuity from season to season.
I came to the show after reading the first three books, so I was fully prepared to be disappointed because the move from novel to screen is haphazard at best. Stephen King is said to be disappointed with almost every screen adaptation of his work, and George R. R. Martin’s writing is particularly dense with characters, locations, languages, plots and subplots. However, the HBO series has become its own phenomenon: It’s one of those rare shows in which the casting and the execution have melded well, and in that sense, it reminds me of “The Sopranos” and “Orphan Black.”
And as most people know, the show ends with this season, but the novels continue . . . at least that’s what everyone thinks. Martin is a methodical writer, and readers are still impatiently awaiting the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter. No publication date has been set yet as Martin has admitted that the writing has been hard.
I can sympathize, George, and I only shoot for about 1200 words a day.
“you know how deceptive memory is and how coarse the real world. Nostalgia amplifies things. The memory preserves tastes and smells and images that are of its own making, or that are not as they were in reality.” ~ Amjad Nasser, from Land of No Rain
I actually enjoyed doing Thursday’s update; it was a good writing exercise. I’m still floundering, though, attempting to find that rhythm that I’ve lost as it continues to elude me. It’s hard to explain this to people who do not like to write or for whom words are not foremost in their lives.
That’s not a slur in any way, only an attempt to explain why my recent posts seem to be preponderantly superficial. I have so much roiling inside, so many things that I want to say, but when I start, the words sound hollow, so I stop and try to find other way to keep this blog going.
Consider: If you were an expert at landscaping, and you took your tools to a piece of land, fully prepared to create something beautiful, but once you arrived, you couldn’t remember the purpose of any tool. Or let’s say that you were a proficient bookkeeper, and you sat down with some raw data, and your computer, and you couldn’t remember how to reconcile a spreadsheet. Or what if you were a wonderful tailor, and you had a bolt of cloth and measurements, but you suddenly forgot how to pattern.
I deliberately didn’t choose painting or sculpting or composing music or any of the other traditional categories of art as anyone who dabbles in those or for whom those are a way of life already is all too familiar with the terrible periods of being unable to create. Rather, I am attempting to explain my problem to those of you for whom life is more structure and traditional, but I don’t know if my explanation only adds to the confusion.
“The years of searching in the dark for a truth that one feels but cannot express, the intense desire and the alternations of confidence and misgiving . . . are known only to him who has experienced them himself.” ~ Albert Einstein, from the Gibson Foundation Lecture, 1933
One of the reasons that I do not sleep well is that I have a very hard time turning off my brain. It’s not just mulling over the day or worrying about bills or money or the house or whatever. It’s also that I start to think about things that I want to say. More times than I can count I think that I should just get out of bed and sit down and write, but then I tell myself that if I did so, I would be useless the next day.
But would being useless the next day really matter in the grand scheme of things? I feel as if I’m doing myself a disservice by not writing when the so-called spirit moves me. Yet at the same time I feel guilty for wanting to eschew traditional sleep and approaches to time because there is so much of daily life with which to contend. Honestly, though, my days are still not productive in that all of my to-do list goes unattended, so the guilt and feelings of worthlessness are there no matter which path I choose.
Consider: Parkinson’s law commonly states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. But Asimov’s corollary to Parkinson states that in ten hours a day you have time to fall twice as far behind your commitments as in five hours a day. A la Parkinson, I manage to fill my days with mostly nonproductive actions, and a la Asimov’s corollary, I fall twice as far behind.
“Everything about me is unfinished, insufficient.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Lou Salomé written c. December 1905
In doing a big of reading about eponymous laws, I came across the intriguing idea of the centipede principle, which I chose deliberately because of my great fear of those multi-legged creatures; in essence, this principle addresses overthinking, as in if a person thinks too much about something that comes naturally, then that action can be impaired.
The centipede principle or effect supposedly is based on a short poem written in 1871 by the Katherine Craster (go here to see the original poem), in which the centipede is asked which leg moves first and then next when he walks, and then because he is asked, he cannot walk.
English psychologist George Humphrey propounded his eponymous law about hyper-reflection in 1923, referencing the centipede tale. I also came across another reference to this centipede effect in the work of Karl Popper, who states that “if we have learnt certain movements so that they have sunk below the level of conscious control, then if we try to follow them consciously we very often interfere with them so badly that we stop them.”
In other words, do I set myself up to be unable to write because I think too much about being unable to write? Am I unable to begin the projects that I have set for myself because I think too much about whether or not I can actually accomplish these projects? I was once told that I live my life as a self-fulfilling prophecy: my behavior directly causes my predicted outcome; i.e., I don’t send my work out for publication, so I am never published.
“People who are burdened by acute misgivings about their coping capabilities suffer much distress and expend much effort in defensive action . . . they cannot get themselves to do things they find subjectively threatening even though they are objectively safe. ” ~ Albert Bandura, from Social Foundations of Thought and Action
I realize that this post took a turn towards psychoanalysis, but what of it? Years of therapy have conditioned me to ponder such questions about the self. That, and I have a particular penchant for eponymous laws; I find them fascinating. (If you happen to be interested in such things, Wikipedia happens to have a good listing of them from A to Z here.)
Anyway, I think that most people could do with more introspection about their thoughts and actions. Too few people today actually give deep thought to things beyond the surface (how many likes did my picture get? was I reblogged? etc.). Yet I know that I am the opposite: I think too much. I consider too much. And in so doing, I paralyze myself. I wish that I could say that I am motivated by strength, but the truth is that I am motivated by fear. And truly, I hate that most about myself.
But unlike many who are motivated by fear, I do not cloak that fear with bombast or sanctimony, only to project that fear outward and punish those who seem weaker or more vulnerable. Instead, I project inward, causing harm mostly to my psyche. Regardless, someone is always damaged in the end.
More later. Peace.
Music by Sarah McLachlan, “Hold On”
A Secret Life
Why you need to have one
is not much more mysterious than
why you don’t say what you think
at the birth of an ugly baby.
Or, you’ve just made love
and feel you’d rather have been
in a dark booth where your partner
was nodding, whispering yes, yes,
you’re brilliant. The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that’s unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you’d most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it’s like a small fire
in a clearing, it’s what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It’s why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who’ll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.
Pierre Yves-Petit aka Yvon, Notre Dame Spire from another angle, c1920s
Pierre Yves-Petit aka Yvon, Notre Dame Spire, c1920s
Pierre Yves-Petit, aka Yvon, Ponte Notre-Dame, c1920s
Pierre Yves-Petit aka Yvon, Le Bouquiniste Notre Dame in the mist), c1920s
Pierre Yves-Petit, aka Yvon, Notre-Dame Gargoyle, c1920s
With angel’s wings and brutish-human form, Weathered with centuries of sun and storm, He crouches yonder on the gallery wall, Monstrous, superb, indifferent, cynical: And all the pulse of Paris cannot stir Her one immutable philosopher. ………………..~ Edmund Kemper Broadus, “A Gargoyle on Notre Dame”
Tuesday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 64 degrees.
Did I tell you that it snowed for a few minutes yesterday? Snowflakes in April on tax day. How fitting. It was cold yesterday.
I still have Notre-Dame on the brain, so I thought that I’d share some historic images of the cathedral from the 1800s. Thinking of Notre-Dame reminds me of Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral,” a favorite of mine that I used to teach in American Literature classes. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.
Today is a Two for Tuesday, but the theme is kind of murkier: the mind as a personal cathedral.
More later. Peace.
The man in the yellow hard hat,
the one with the mask
across his nose and mouth,
pulls the lever that turns
the great arm of the crane up
and over and sideways
toward the earth;
then the wrecking ball
so delicately, like a silver fob
loosened from a waistcoat pocket:
shocking to see
the dust fly up and the timber
sail up, then so slowly
down, how the summer air
bristles with a hundred splinters
and the smallest is a splintered flame,
for it takes so many lengthening
erratic movements to tear away
what stands between the sidewalk
and the bell tower,
where the pigeons now rise
in grand indignant waves
at such poor timing, such
a deaf ear toward the music;
in this way the silence
between hand and lever is turned
into a ragged and sorely lifted
wing: the wrecking ball lurches
in a narrowing arc until only
the dust resists—the rest
comes down, story by story,
and is hauled off in flatbed trucks.
Meanwhile the pedestrians come
and go, now and then glancing
at their accurate watches.
Gradually, the dust
becomes the rose light
But one evening a woman
loses her way as she’s
swept into a passing wave
of commuters and she
looks up toward the perfectly
now hanging between
the rutted mud and the sky.
There along the sides
of the adjacent building,
like a set for a simple
elementary school play,
like the gestures of the dead
in her children’s faces,
she sees the flowered paper
of her parents’ bedroom,
the pink stripes leading
up the stairs to the attic,
and the outline of the claw-
footed bathtub, font
of the lost cathedral of childhood.
~ Susan Stewart
Explication of an Imaginary Text
Salt is pity, brooms are fury,
The waterclock stands for primordial harmony.
The spruce forest, which is said to be Like a cathedral
Indicates proliferation of desire.
The real meaning of the beginning
Will not become clear until later, if ever.
Things no longer being what they were,
Artifice poses as process,
The voice is tinged with melancholy.
The teacup, the brass knuckles, and the pearl-handled razor
As if to say
That half the wind is in the mind
And half in the mind of the wind.
Speaking through the character
Who comes to faith on his deathbed,
The author makes apology
For saying things he didn’t mean.
Little girl-cousins with ribbons in their hair
Confuse him with their names and are carried away
By laughter. Thus,
The force of love comes from belief, Hate is from lack of doubt.
Paradox by paradox the narrative proceeds
Until half the stars are absolute tears.
The other half are mirrors.
~ James Galvin
Continue to be in a blues mood. Music by Gary B.B. Coleman, “The Sky is Crying”
Two for Tuesday: Two sections from Louise Glück’s poem “Marathon”
Tuesday afternoon, cloudy and temperate, 63 degrees.
So for a few hours today I thought that it was Monday, and I was going to write a regular post, and then I looked at the weather and realized that nope . . . it was Tuesday. Honestly, I’m no longer even surprised when this happens.
My back was better yesterday, but then a migraine hit, hard, and then it came roaring back during the night. However, I was able to get back to sleep this morning, and I managed to get a few good hours. That being said, the back situation is bad again—t’s just more of that vicious cycle that is my body’s daily existence.
As you know, I’m a huge lover of Louise Glück’s poems. Today I’m featuring two sections of her longer poem “Marathon,” which appears in The Triumph of Achilles (1985); the 26 poems in this book are are arranged in three parts, of which “Marathon” is the center; this poem contains nine sections.
Although this poem traces a relationship, I have chosen these two particular sections because of the imagery that I find so relatable. In particular, I feel as if I’ve had a version of the dream that she recounts in section 6, “The Beginning.” I cannot begin to count the number of times in which I’ve dreamed that I was in a different city in which I am lost and looking for something. This, precisely, is why I have such an affinity for Glück’s work.
More later. Peace.
5. Night Song
Look up into the light of the lantern.
Don’t you see? The calm of darkness
is the horror of Heaven.
We’ve been apart too long, too painfully separated.
How can you bear to dream,
to give up watching? I think you must be dreaming.
your face is full of mild expectancy.
I need to wake you, to remind you that there isn’t a future.
That’s why we’re free. And now some weakness in me
has been cured forever, so I’m not compelled
to close my eyes, to go back to rectify—
The beach is still; the sea, cleansed of its superfluous life,
opaque, rocklike. In mounds in vegetal clusters,
seabirds sleep on the jetty. Terns, assassins—
You’re tired; I can see that.
We’re both tired, we have acted in a great drama.
Even our hands our cold, that were like kindling.
Our clothes are scattered on the sand; strangely enough,
they never turned to ashes.
I have to tell you what I’ve learned, that I know now
what happens to the dreamers.
They don’t feel it when they change. One day
they wake, they dress, they are old.
Tonight I’m not afraid
to feel the revolutions. How can you want sleep
when passion gives you that peace?
You’re like me tonight, one of the lucky ones.
You’ll get what you want. You’ll get your oblivion.
6. The Beginning
I had come to a strange city, without belongings:
in the dream, it was your city, I was looking for you.
Then I was lost, on a dark street lined with fruit stands.
There was only fruit: blood oranges.
The markets made displays of them beautiful displays—
how else could they compete? And each arrangement had, at its center,
one fruit, cut open.
Then I was on a boulevard, in brilliant sunlight.
I was running; it was easy to run, since I had nothing.
In the distance, I could see your house; a woman knelt in the yard.
There were roses everywhere; in waves, they climbed the high trellis.
Then what began as love for you
became a hunger for structure: I could hear
the woman call to me in common kindness, knowing
I wouldn’t ask for you anymore—
So it was settled: I could have a childhood there.
Which came to mean being always alone.