“We all need mantras, I guess—stories we tell ourselves to keep us going.” ~ Lauren Oliver, from Pandemonium

Toddler in front of Manchester ruins by Shirley Baker*

“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.” ~ Michael Cunningham, from The Hours

Thursday afternoon, mostly cloudy and warm, 76 degrees.

Dallas showed up a few hours ago with the horse trailer again. At least Corey was home this time. Dallas is determined to take my horse Napoleon over to his place to stud some mares that are in heat. He also wants to take Sassy to try to impregnate her. The last time he showed up to do this, I almost hit him over the head with a heavy object. The man is infuriating when he’s been drinking.

Boy pushing child in door swing

He’s out there ordering Corey around, doing the same thing that he did to me, telling Corey to be very quiet, even as he yells. Dallas is oblivious to the irony. Neither horse is cooperating, which I find oddly amusing, but I know that Corey must be frustrated.

Apparently, though, they’ve finally gotten Napoleon into the trailer but have given up on Sassy, who isn’t having anything to do with Dallas and his trailer; with any luck, Dallas will be departing soon. The banging and yelling have made the dogs and me nervous. I actually had plans to take the dogs for a walk, but I was definitely not going out there while all of that chaos was going on, only to be called into the fray, regardless of my plans

Neither my nerves nor my patience could have taken it. With any luck, I still might be able to get a walk in. We’ll just have to see, I suppose, but of course, I’m writing now, so it’s doubtful that I’ll actually make it outside. (I really need to manage my time better, or perhaps, it’s my mind. Who knows . . .)

“Still, there are times i am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri, from “The Third and Final Continent”

Just a week ago Corey and I were talking about how everything in Norfolk would already be in bloom, but everything around here was still bare, and then suddenly, we woke up, and there was green grass, and blossoms on some trees, and bulbs coming up everywhere. It’s finally spring on the ridge.

Children playing in ruins

One of the reasons that I had wanted to get a walk in was to explore just what was in bloom in the various nooks and crannies everywhere. Perhaps next year I’ll have been able to get various bulbs in the ground and more bushes planted that I want: peonies, day lilies, tulips, mock orange, wisteria, Carolina jasmine, wisteria, maybe even a couple of flowering crabapple  and blossoming cherry trees. That would be nice. I miss the huge blooms on my peony plants, and I had fully intended to dig them up to transplant, but as with most things involved in the move, it just didn’t happen. In fact, we’re still realizing exactly how much we’re missing from our belongings that didn’t make it here. Odd.

So I hear the tractor pulling out and Dallas yelling over the engine, as if anyone could even figure out what he’s talking about now. Sorry. I know that I should be kinder, should be nicer, should be less judgmental.

I’m not. Sorry. Not really.

“. . . the ones who dance
As though they’re burying
Memory—one last time—
Beneath them.” ~ Tracy K. Smith, from “Duende”

And by the way, it appears that Maddy is going into heat sooner than anticipated.  I told Corey that we need to buy some diapers to put on her because I definitely to not want her impregnated; I remember that my mother used to keep this diaper thing that she would put on the Yorkies when they went into heat. My life just keeps getting more and more interesting. So now the hunt it on for affordable spaying. Anyone have any ideas?

Young toddler with old bicycle wheel, Manchester UK, 1964

Unfortunately, I realized that Maddy’s condition means that her sisters from the litter, those currently still residing with Dallas, must be going into heat as well, and he is completely irresponsible about such things; witness the two recent litters of puppies he now has in residence. I would really like to steal some of his females and have them spayed and then return them. He’d never notice.

If wishes were fishes . . .

Sleep sucked last night, and I kept having dreams that were filled with strange images and food. I even woke up and wrote down the details of one particular dream because it unnerved me so much. So I dreamed about chicken and dumplings, BBQ, the old townhouse in Alexandria, my former sister-in-law, and my ex. Needless to say it was all jumbled and disturbing, and I awoke feeling like I’d run a marathon, that is if I’d ever run a marathon, or could run a marathon, or would run a marathon (I’ve seen how people look at the finish line; no thank you).

Note: I began this post yesterday afternoon, and then got distracted as usual, that and the whole Dallas interruption; but I’ve decided to finish it today because . . . things . . . why not?

“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” ~ Anthony Doerr, from All the Light We Cannot See

Friday afternoon, rain and cooler, 64 degrees.

So, another bad night. Migraine today. Storms outside and inside, I guess. I’m supposed to call some rep about getting the new migraine medication Aimovig with assistance, but the key words here are supposed to and call—easier said than done. I never ever ever thought that I’d miss having a working phone. Is it possible to get a phone to make outgoing calls only, as in no one can call in and bother you? You get to call on your time, when it’s convenient for you?

Someone should invent that . . .

Little girl with a pushcar frame, Manchester, UK, 1969

So I’m committed to finishing this post. Just as I’ve committed myself to doing the taxes this weekend . . . yep, have to do that. I’ve also made a pact with Corey that I’m going to get back to my piano. I’ve cleaned and dusted it, and I’ve been doing scales and exercises to get my fingers back into shape. I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll practice 30 minutes a day until I get back into shape, and then an hour a day to get back to Chopin and Beethoven.

I think that it’s a good plan. Now it’s a matter of staying focused.

Now that the weather is warmer, I have so many goals: piano playing, writing, house organizing, furniture refinishing. I can do this, I tell myself, even as internally I begin to panic. I know. It makes no sense. I’ve set the goals. I’ve made the to do list. No one else has done this for me. No one is making me do any of this . . . but it’s that old battle of feeling that I’m not meeting expectations.

Whose? Don’t ask me. I truly don’t know.

“We spend our life trying to bring together in the same instant a ray of sunshine and a free bench.” ~ Samuel Beckett, from Texts for Nothing

I’ve been exploring YouTube again, looking for new artists, renditions with which I am unfamiliar. I like YouTube, but hate the ads that pop up at the most inopportune times. I mean, I realize that those ads are the method by which people on that channel makes a lot of their income, but still, I wish that it was more like the original days of the channel, when you could listen for hours without an ad. Of course, if I were willing to pay for premium, I would have to deal with ads.

Boy with a cricket bat outside a terraced house in Manchester, UK

Not going to be doing that any time soon, even if I did have the money. I mean, it’s the principle . . . at least, that’s what I tell myself . . . Ah, the inequities of life, such small problems that dart into our lives like pesky mosquitoes. At least I have a computer on which I can view the channel. I have electricity, water, a roof over my head. I need to remind myself of these things when I’m feeling pitiful about my current plight.

We may not have a fully-stocked larder, but we aren’t starving. We don’t have to live in a cage, or a processing room filled with desperate people. We don’t have to pick through garbage piles looking for the odd thing that might be turned into coin in order to purchase a meal for our children. This world is so full of want and need, and when I think about it, it just about destroys my soul.

I probably should stop now before I go on a full-blown rant about the haves and the have-nots and how very and truly warped our society is, right down to its very bones.

More later. Peace.

*All images are by photographer Shirley Baker, who is well known for her stark images of working-class people living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Salford and Manchester, UK. Taken between 1961 and 1981, Baker frequently focused her lens on the children in these neighborhoods. For a good biography go here. unfortunately I was not always able to find an accurate caption citing exact date and location.

Music by The Sweeplings, “Carry Me Home”


Necessities (two sections)
1.
A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas,
but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in.
With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up.
The green smear of the woods we first made love in.
The yellow city we thought was our future.
The red highways not traveled, the green ones
with their missed exits, the black side roads
which took us where we had not meant to go.
The high peaks, recorded by relatives,
though we prefer certain unmarked elevations,
the private alps no one knows we have climbed.
The careful boundaries we draw and erase.
And always, around the edges,
the opaque wash of blue, concealing
the dropoff they have stepped into before us,
singly mapless not looking back.

5.
Even now, the old things first things,
which taught us language. Things of day and of night.
Irrational lightning, fickle clouds, the incorruptible moon.
Fire as revolution, grass as the heir
to all revolutions. Snow
as the alphabet of the dead, subtle, undeciphered.
The river as what we wish it to be.
Trees in their humanness, animals in their otherness.
Summits. Chasms. Clearings.
And stars, which gave us the word distance,
so we could name our deepest sadness.

~  Lisel Mueller

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“For to stay is to be nowhere at all.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Duino Elegies: The First Elegy

Rainer Maria Rilke (Wikimedia Commons)

Two for Tuesday: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy, 48 degrees.

Not two poems today, but prose by the prolific German-language poets. Rilke was born in Prague in what was at that time called the Austro-Hungarian empire. His earlier work  evokes a sense of romanticism, but after two life-changing trips to Russia, Rilke’s work evolved into what would become his predominant approach to writing: [these trips provided hims with] “poetic material and inspiration essential to his developing philosophy of existential materialism and art as religion” (Poetry Foundation).

Throughout his life, Rilke interacted with key artists of the period, including Tolstoy, Pasternak, and Rodin, for whom Rilke worked as secretary (1905-06).  Although best known for his German language work, Rilke’s ouevre included 400 poems written in  French. Additionally, he was a prodigious letter writer, especially to the significant women in his life, and many of his letters reflect the poet’s continual search for meaning through art and his desire to determine poet’s overarching role in society.

In 1912, Rilke began writing Duino Elegies, so called because Rilke began the collection while visiting Duino Castle on the Italian Adriatic coast. The collection, considered to be his magnum opus, took him ten years to write. Rilke, who suffered from health problems his entire life, including stifling depression, died of leukemia in 1926.

Go here or here for more information on the poet and his work. The selections below are from Rilke’s only novel, which was considered to be semi-autobiographical, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910).


From “Fears”

All the lost fears are here again.

The fear that a small woolen thread sticking out of the hem of my blanket may be hard, hard and sharp as a steel needle; the fear that this little button on my night-shirt may be bigger than my head, bigger and heavier; the fear that the breadcrumpbwhich just dropped off my bed may turn into glass, and shatter when it hits the floor, and the sickening worry that when it does, everything will be broken, for ever; the fear that the ragged edge of a letter which was torn open may be something forbidden, which no one out to see, something indescribably precious, for which no place in the room is safe enough; the fear that if I fell asleep I might swallow the piece of coal lying in front of the stove; the fear that some number may begin to grow in my brain until there is no more room for it inside me; the fear that I may be lying on granite, on gray granite; the fear that I may start screaming, and people will come running to y door ad finally force it open, the fear that I might betray myself and tell everything I drea, and the fear that I might not be able to say anything because everything is unsayable,—and the other fears . . . the fears.

From “For the Sake of a Single Poem”

. . . Ah poems amount to so little when you write then too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else—); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars,—and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no  longer to be distinguished from ourselves—only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.


Music by The National, “Heavenfaced”

“Everything is infected with brightness, throbbing with it, and she prays for dark the way a wanderer lost in the desert prays for water. The world is every bit as barren of darkness as a desert is of water. There is no dark in the shuttered room, no dark behind her eyelids.” ~ Michael Cunningham, from The Hours


My Migraine Brain

Monday evening, cloudy, 55 degrees.

April Fool! I wish . . .

Years ago I created an image that I called “My Migraine Brain.” Of course, that image is on a hard drive somewhere in the house, so I had to resort to google and a little bit of adjustment. Anyway, this is what’s going on with me today. Fiercely. And not in that good way.

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Today’s Self-Portrait: Lots of Movement that Gets Me Nowhere

“Can we really conquer chaos so easily? If that were so, I should be able to prune the pandemonium of my own soul into something neat and tidy rather than this maze of wants and needs and misgivings that has me forever feeling as if I cannot fit into the landscape of things.” ~ Libba Bray, from The Far Sweet Thing

Friday afternoon, overcast but mild, 66 degrees.

I’m in one of those moods. Yep. Could it be day five of this unending migraine? Awaking each morning at 4 a.m. for no particular reason and being unable to go back to sleep? Eating stale tortilla chips and salsa because I’m craving salt and now I have incredible heartburn? The fact that I’ve been trying to write Tuesday’s post for 4 days and can’t get past the poem?  Continuing/unending issues with just trying to live our lives?

All of it? None of it?

Whatever . . .


Oh, the good old days . . . kind of . . . you know, Spanish flu deaths, diseases, sexism, racism, rampant poverty, fascism . . . no, wait . . . yep, that whole making us great again thing . . .

Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, June 26, 1913

Found on irisharchaelogy’s tumblr:

From Ultrafacts.com (love this one):

Many of these old trees were dying or had died and, despite their age, were destined for a meeting with a chainsaw. Tingle, however, saw potential in the old trees and over time transformed many of them into remarkable works of art. They are located in Orr Park, Montevallo, AL (Fact Source)

This one reminds me of how Paramount’s mountain logo faded to the mountain in Raiders of the Lost Ark:

I love drinks with paper umbrellas; it’s like Hawaiian Punch:

From anxietyproblem’s tumblr:


Music by Lauren Daigle, “You Say”

“My heart has always beat thunderstorms instead of blood.” ~ Gabriel Gadfly, from Supercell

Rapeseed field barn, Cotswold, UK by Eri Hossinger (FCC)

“Our hearts teach us how to fly with wings of pain.” ~ Frank Lima, from “Felonies and Arias of the Heart”

Saturday afternoon, sunny and warmer, 57 degrees.

This afternoon Corey is adding a modified barbed wire to the pasture enclosure so that we can move the goats there. It should keep them in and keep predators out, at least, that’s the intent. I really don’t like barbed wire, and I know that part of that is because of how it looms darkly through the movie Legends of the Fall. Hey, at least I’m being honest.

Spring wildflowers at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma by USFWS (FCC)

On Thursday, Corey and I made the trip to Bristol, Tennessee so that I could have an  echocardiogram and ultrasound. The echo was to check out a suspected murmur, and the ultrasound was for my thyroid. But as usual, things did not go as planned. I did have the correct day this time, but I did not know that I would have to pay the copay upfront for the ultrasound. While it was only $16.78, I did not have the local bank card with me; Corey had it, so I had to cancel the ultrasound; this was the second time I had to cancel it. However, when I reschedule I might be able to have the test done somewhere closer to home. Here’s hoping.

Anyway, it seems that the echo went fine; the tech said that my heart pictures were “beautiful,” which was about all that she could tell me, of course, because they aren’t allowed to say anything as the test has to be read by a cardiologist. I wasn’t too worried about the murmur as such things are supposedly fairly common, and obviously, it wasn’t something that I’ve had all of my life.

However, years ago, my heart used to click whenever I lay on my side. It did that for a couple of years and then went away. I remember telling some doctor and was told that it was nothing, and since it went away, I never thought about it again until the echo.

“We’ve paid our dues. Our hearts are inscribed
with loss after loss.” ~ Luci Tapahonso, from “The Holy Twins”

So after leaving the hospital and while I still had a 3G signal, I tried to call my insurance company to see if I could change my PCP. I’ve tried a couple of times to do so online, but I’ve locked myself out of the account. Turns out, the doctor with whom I have an appointment on Monday isn’t even in network, even though she’s part of the local medical network. It’s all such bullshit. I ate up minutes trying to clarify with the insurance rep, only to find out that the echo that I had just had done wasn’t covered; the urgent care visit that I had when my fingertip was bitten off wasn’t covered either.

I did not wail uncontrollably into the telephone, which was my internal reaction; instead, I just asked the rep to transfer me to tech support, but when she did, I was put on hold. I just didn’t have it in me to stay on hold any longer and eat up valuable minutes just to have the online account unlocked. Frankly, I’d had more than enough stress for one day.  I don’t even want to know what my blood pressure was at that point.

I’m keeping the appointment on Monday with the out-of-network PCP because I’ve had such a horrendous time finding competent doctors around here. Apparently, the co-pay will only be $5 instead of $0 for an in-network doctor, so that’s not prohibitive (she says even though we are currently broker than broke and sorely lacking in things like, oh, milk . . . whatever).

“And I knew you, a swelling in the heart,
A silence in the heart, the wild wind-blown grass
Burning—as the sun falls below the earth—
Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow.” ~ Brigit Pegeen Kelly, from “Elegy”

In other news, Max and Ruby (the goats) are finally beginning to forage, which they weren’t doing initially. The pair of them are actually very quiet. For some reason, I always thought that goats were loud when they bleat, but I’ve only heard them bleat quietly. Maybe different breeds of goats bleat at different levels. I suppose we shall find out.

Dallas hasn’t been around here since the dog fight. Apparently, the fight frightened him. I’m not complaining as it’s been an unexpected boon for me. It’s been quiet, but that’s not to say that he still doesn’t call Corey frequently for rides to various places or for help, and of course Corey so generously assists..

Spring in Bornich, Germany by Mark Strobl (FCC)

Speaking of animals, we’ve been dragged into the periphery of a local feud of sorts. Dallas has a nephew who has property on the ridge. This is the same guy whose livestock has been frequently found grazing and roaming on the road in search of food, something we’ve witnesses ever since we rounded a corner and almost hit a horse the first time we came here.

Well apparently this guy had a cow and its calf who wandered onto someone’s property, and the idiot son of the property owner shot the cow, leaving the nursing calf without a mother. Unbelievable. Corey and I heard about it, and I was livid at the ignorance that would make someone think that this was an okay thing to do. I mean, what happened to saying shoo and waving your arms?

It seems that calling the police and suing one another is another local pastime around here, and Dallas and this nephew do not get along. The day after this happened, and to be neighborly, Corey stopped while he was out and asked the guy if he had found the calf yet. The guy hadn’t found the calf, but he had accusations to throw, mentioning Dallas’s name and insinuating that Corey might have something to do with it.

Corey assured him that he knew nothing at all about the situation other than hearing about the cow being shot, and then he drove off. When Corey told me about this, I did not have a good feeling, and Corey described this guy as being incredibly arrogant. Nevertheless, we had hoped that would be the last we would hear of things.

“It’s raining in my heart.” ~ Tim Dlugos, from “Come in from the Rain”

Listen, we moved here to get away from nosy neighbors, petty comments, and city regulations, and we’ve made it a point to mind our own business. We’re friendly, and will wave and say hello, but for the most part, we don’t know or care to know who is doing what to whom at any given time, including the saga of the cow and her calf.

Unfortunately, things did not end there.

Dallas took the cow carcass to his property supposedly to get rid of it, but not quite. And then the next day he and Travis, another neighbor we know, wanted Corey to help them load up the calf. Dallas said that he was going to let the calf nurse on his milk cow. Neither Corey nor I wanted any part of this, but Corey agreed to help round it up but nothing else.

Pared y Cefn-hir and Cregennan lakes, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, UK by Welsh Photographer (FCC)

I had real misgivings about all of this and was still really upset about the jackass who murdered the mother cow. Corey helped load the calf and came home. When Dallas and Travis got down the ridge, the police were waiting for them and wanted to know where they were taking the calf. Smooth talker that he thinks he is, Dallas said that they had found the calf and were returning it to his nephew. The cops had them unload the calf and then let them go.

That night, Dallas said that around 1 a.m. he heard horns honking, and he went out to find his nephew’s horses in the road. Dallas said that he rounded up the horses and put them in his pasture for the night and then went back to bed. The next morning, the local cops showed up with a warrant (kind of fishy, the timing of that), claiming that Dallas had stolen his nephew’s horses. Corey happened to be at Dallas’s at the time. They took Dallas in, and said that he’d be released that afternoon.

“She treats the dark like a cathedral.
She is all swallow, the heart working
under every scale to outgrow a fortified spiral.
The cathedral swallows the heart.” ~ Amber Flora Thomas, from “Shed”

This whole situation is unbelievable, but that’s not the end. That night, one of Dallas’s RV campers was set on fire. Dallas sometimes sleeps in this particular camper, which is behind his house and on the edge of his property; fortunately, he didn’t happen to be in it on this particular night.

Now Dallas is talking about getting his lawyer involved, and he still has to go to court over the horses, and his nephew has apparently moved his horses and cows somewhere else. I’m just hoping that wherever he has relocated his livestock, that he takes better care of them and feeds them better because they were always breaking out and wandering in the road looking for areas in which to graze.

Canola Flower at Showa Commemorative National Government Park, Tokyo by Takashi M (FCC)

All in all, I’m really over all of this. These people around here need to find better ways to spend their time and leave us out of it. I know that it’s a small-town mentality to be up in everyone else’s business, but seriously? WTF, people?

I had thought that  my old neighbors on Benjamin were busy bodies, but they were small time compared to these people. I’m just glad that we had already been pulling back in our dealings with Dallas. The whole “painted by the same brush” mentality apparently applies: if you associate with someone, then obviously you are guilty by association.

Give me a break.If this is how it’s going to be, then perhaps my decision to become a hermit has not been ill-founded after all.

More later. Peace.


Anniversary

2

I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely
I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold
on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I
haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as
usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes,
aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the
wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and
tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of
the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their
shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this
spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.

~ Madelon Sprengnether (from Angel of Duluth)


Music by Jane Olivor, “Come in from the Rain” (a favorite song from my past)

 

Wordless Wednesdays: The Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula (M42/M43, NGC1976) from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO/AURA/NSF)

“It feels like I’m talking to his shadow suspended on dust.” ~ Will Graham, from “Hannnibal” (“Potage” episode, written by David Fury, Chris Brancato and Bryan Fuller)

Portrait of Margaret Atwood shot at the Time Inc. Photo Studios in New York, March 18 2017.
Ruven Afanador for TIME

Will Graham: I feel like I’ve dragged you into my world.
Hannibal Lecter: I got here on my own. But I appreciate the company. ~ “Hannibal” (“Fromage” episode, written by Jennifer Schuur and Bryan Fuller)

Tuesday afternoon, sunny and cold 28 degrees.

Yes, it’s a Two for Tuesday post, but for some reason, I woke up thinking about the television  show “Hannibal,” which was so wonderfully written and acted. I really miss it, and not just because of Mads Mikkelsen, thus, the quotes from the show.

I not only woke up with Hannibal running through my mind, but this was accompanied by a massive migraine, which is only slightly receding at the moment. Waking up with a migraine is a horrible way to begin the day; it colors everything else I do for the duration.

The useless neurologist that I saw last week is supposed to be looking into getting me Aimovig, that new medication that’s supposed to help prevent migraines. If I can get that affordably, that time spent in her office won’t be entirely wasted. I’m still waiting to hear from her office, but as the phone is currently not working for some reason, I have no news yet.

Anyway, that’s how the day is going, so not a whole lot of anything else. Today’s post features two section from a much longer poem by Margaret Atwood, “Five Poems for Grandmothers.” The complete poem can be found in Atwood’s 1978 book, Two Headed Poems, or in her Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986.

I hope you like this as much as I do.

More later. Peace.


Five Poems for Grandmothers

i

In the house on the cliff
by the ocean, there is still a shell
bigger and lighter than your head, though now
you can hardly lift it.

It was once filled with whispers;
it was once a horn
you could blow like a shaman
conjuring the year,
and your children would come running.

You’ve forgotten you did that,
you’ve forgotten the names of the children
who in any case no longer run,
and the ocean has retreated,
leaving a difficult beach of gray stones
you are afraid to walk on.

The shell is now a cave
which opens for you alone.
It is filled with whispers
which escape into the room,
even though you turn it mouth down.

This is your house, this is the picture
of your misty husband, these are your children, webbed
and doubled. This is the shell,
which is hard, which is still there,
solid under the hand, which mourns, which offers
itself, a narrow journey
along its hallways of cold pearl
down the cliff into the sea.

ii

It is not the things themselves
that are lost, but their use and handling.

The ladder first, the beach;
the storm windows, the carpets;

The dishes, washed daily
for so many years the pattern
has faded; the floor, the stairs, your own
arms and feet whose work
you thought defined you;

The hairbrush, the oil stove
with its many failures,
the apple tree and the barrels
in the cellar for the apples,
the flesh of apples; the judging
of the flesh, the recipes
in tiny brownish writing
with the names of those who passed them
from hand to hand: Gladys,
Lorna, Winnie, Jean.

If you could only have them back
or remember who they were.

~ Margaret Atwood


Music by Down Like Silver, “Wolves”