Alfie (Alfred, Lord Tennyson) May 2000 – May 2013 Brother of Shakes (William Shakespeare)
Day of Grief
I was forcing a wasp to the top of a window
where there was some sky and there were tiger lilies
outside just to love him or maybe only
simply a kiss for he was hurrying home
to fight a broom and I was trying to open
a door with one hand while the other was swinging
tomatoes, and you could even smell the corn
for corn travels by wind and there was the first
hint of cold and dark though it was nothing
compared to what would come, and someone should mark
the day, I think it was August 20th, and
that should be the day of grief for grief
begins then and the corn man starts to shiver
and crows too and dogs who hate the wind
though grief would come later and it was a relief
to know I wasn’t alone, but be as it may,
since it was cold and dark I found myself singing
the brilliant love songs of my other religion.
~ Gerald Stern
Music by Anderson East, featuring Jill Andrews, “Say Anything”
Not many people get to travel to outer space, but here, we can at least see what it looks like from amazing aerial perspectives. Landsat 5, a satellite that observed our planet for more than 29 years in space, will soon be ending it’s mission. Originally set to orbit Earth for three years, the satellite lived well beyond its intended means. But, a recently broken gyroscope has declared the end of the machine’s time in space.
It orbited Earth more than 150,000 times, capturing more than 2.5 million images of our world’s terrain. In honor of the mission’s end, here are a collection of Landsat 5’s best images of our planet. Landsat 7, which has been orbiting Earth since 1999, will remain overhead and Landsat 8 will be launched into space in February 2013.
“My tears are like the quiet drift Of petals from some magic rose; And all my grief flows from the rift Of unremembered skies and snows.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “Clown in the Moon”
Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 60’s.
Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter Caitlin’s death. The weather this week is very much as it was 23 years ago: sunny and mild, and the entire time I thought that there should be storms, massive gales and torrential downpours. But no, sun. I remember standing at the cemetery after the service in just my long-sleeved dress, thinking that it should be cold, but it wasn’t.
The little things that come back to you.
I had very intense dreams last night, quite a detailed one in which I was having a conversation with my deceased m-in-law in her dining room, and she was talking about the treatment that she had received in the first long-term facility, and she commented that they managed to neglect her until it was too late. I told her that I had tried to help, but I knew that I hadn’t done enough.
Then she told me that she had an envelope full of checks for $10 each, all made out to the grandchildren for when they won things at school or had recitals. But she couldn’t remember where she had put them, and asked me to find them for her.
At some point I got in Corey’s truck to drive to school to take an exam, but I couldn’t see over the dash.
The dream switched, and I was in a big room that turned into a nursery, and I was showing the babies to my friend Sarah, and I pointed out a little girl, and I told Sarah that no one had been in to feed the baby girl all day, and I just didn’t understand how people could act that way. Then I was showing Sarah pictures of the kids, and there was one of me standing in front of my m-in-law’s house, which was decorated for Christmas, and I was holding a baby. Then the nursery turned into one of my old offices, and I was alone, but I was supposed to be at the other location.
I hadn’t called in, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that I was in trouble, but my speech kept coming out garbled. I had a meeting with someone from a company that I was supposed to be reviewing a proposal for, and she pulled away from me even though I told her that I wasn’t contagious, but I couldn’t get my words out straight, and I’m certain that she thought that I was drunk.
Then a runner from the newspaper brought me proof pages for a Christmas ad, and I knew that he had been looking for me earlier in the day.
“I am a part of all whom I have met.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Ulysses”
So much of my past in these dreams, so many people, too many to name. So many things left undone, responsibilities that I had shirked, that I knew that I had shirked. So much like life itself.
I had very much wanted to write yesterday, but Eamonn came home and wanted his room. C’est la vie, I suppose. So I read instead, Stephen King’s The Shining, a book that I read a lifetime ago. It holds up fairly well, one of his better books, before he began churning them out like cookies. But I didn’t really find it scar.y. Perhaps I’ve read so much true crime in the years between that the tale of a man possessed by a hotel full of ghosts pales somewhat in comparison.
Or perhaps there is no going back. More likely, the latter.
I did not make it to the floral warehouse to buy new silk flowers, nor did I make it to the cemetery as I had no vehicle. Perhaps that’s why I was trying so earnestly to drive a vehicle in my dreams.
As I sit here, I have a huge pile of dishes awaiting me in the kitchen. But the smell of last night’s scrapings is making me feel rather ill. I haven’t had a migraine since the botox, but I awoke with a killer sinus headache today. You know the kind: when you touch your eyeballs, they sound crunchy from all of the built-up fluid. I’m telling myself that I’m waiting for the Sudafed and Ibuprofen to kick in before I tackle the kitchen, but the truth is that I simply do not want to do it.
I’ve gone out to the kitchen three times to survey the wreck, if you will, and each time, I walk out and come back here.
“And I always thought: the very simplest words Must be enough. When I say what things are like Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds. That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself—
Surely you see that.” ~ Bertolt Brecht, “And I Always Thought”
I should have used yesterday afternoon to write a few cards, but it seemed too hard.
I greatly fear for the future of this country, that we will see more of the bad times before it gets better.
I need a haircut.
We will probably not make a trip to the mountains again this fall.
The spider in the corner of the bathroom is still there, and I have decided to see just how long he survives if left alone.
I can go an entire day without speaking to another human being as long as the dogs are around to listen to me babble.
I’m moving towards another birthday, and I have yet to do anything substantial with my life.
I do not want to die without having lived, as Thoreau said, but the marrow of life eludes me.
I miss friendship on a daily basis.
Oreos are actually soul food.
Tillie thinks that peanut butter is doggie crack, and it probably is.
I have to stop snacking in the middle of the night when the dogs awaken me.
It would be nice if the dogs did not awaken me in the middle of the night.
I wonder if I could be one of those women who looks stylish with grey hair . . .
I’ve decided to name my fancy-tailed Beta (if I ever get him) Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood,” not Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, although either captain would do.
“Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.” ~ Gabrielle Zevin from Elsewhere
More random thoughts:
Some of my personalized ringtones include “No one said it would be easy,” “Wreck of the day,” and “Why?” Do you sense a theme?
When I lived in my small apartment near ODU, I would put Janis Ian on my record player, and sing “Seventeen” at the top of my voice without any inhibitions.
I just remembered that both my dad and my Uncle Nick were in my dreams last night.
I wish that I knew someone who had all of the answers because I would go up to that person and say, “Get over it. No one has all of the answers.”
I stack the dishes at our table when we eat in a restaurant. I’ve always done this.
Eldest son is taking dance lessons. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, to dance a real waltz at a real ball.
My bucket list is overflowing.
I want so much and so little.
Are my expectations too high?
I had a strand of purple love beads that are long since lost. I loved them because everyone else had grey love beads.
I used to climb trees every chance that I got.
The more stories I read on the 99 percent, the luckier I feel.
I shouldn’t have to feel lucky because I have healthcare and a house.
My father, who traveled the world, never go to see the Great Wall of China.
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and land.” ~ Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass
Just a few more:
I wonder how many times I have chosen the wrong side of the fork in the road . . .
I wonder how many times I have chosen the right side . . .
How can you ever know?
I once had an English professor tell me that Emily Dickinson was the only female poet worth anything.
He pronounced the w in my last name as a Germanic v, and I despised him.
I once had an English teacher tell me that my poem wasn’t a poem because it didn’t have a da-duh da-duh da-duh rhythm.
He had dandruff and smelled.
If I had listened to every man who ever told me that I couldn’t, I would have never.
What happened to that fortitude that I used to possess?
I should have bought that catamaran when I had the chance.
Few of us realize how much our lives shift permanently because of the decisions we make between 18 and 22.
I was never 18 mentally or emotionally.
Exactly what constitutes a marketable degree any more when no one is hiring in any field?
Four o’clock in the morning is a very lonely hour.
Some people are born evil, others good, and then the rest of us struggle to figure out the difference.
I’m afraid it’s all been wasted time.
Enough navel-gazing for today. Dirty dishes await, and the sky has turned white.
More later. Peace.
Music by Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve” from City of Angels OST
The changing seasons, sunlight and darkness,
alter the world, which, in its sunny aspect
comforts us, and with its clouds brings sadness.
And I, who have looked with infinite
tenderness at so many of its guises,
don’t know whether I ought to be sad today
or gladly go on as if a test had been passed;
I’m sad, and yet the day is so beautiful;
only in my heart is there sun and rain.
I can transform a long winter into spring;
where the pathway in the sun is a ribbon
of gold, I bid myself ”good evening.”
In me alone are my mists and fine weather,
as in me alone is that perfect love
for which I suffered so much and no longer mourn,
let my eyes suffice me, and my heart.
~ Umberto Saba, (Trans. by George Hochfield and Leonard Nathan)