“There is a sense in which we are all each other’s consequences.” ~ Wallace Stegner, from All the Little Live Things

Web Droplets by Martyn Wright FCC
Web Droplets by Martyn Wright (FCC)

 “Perhaps it’s true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house—the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture—must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning.” ~ Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things

Sunday early evening. Sunny and cooler, 57 degrees.

Drips by Ricardo Camacho FCC
Drips by Ricardo Camacho (FCC)

So much going through my brain, thoughts coming at me, bombarding my senses, leaving me feeling bruised and broken.

Last night as I lay in bed, sleep elusive once again, I began to wonder when it was, exactly, that I lost my strength, my fortitude, as it were. I used to consider myself such a strong person, a person able to weather storms, a person who could take the worst that life heaped on my plate and still, somehow, survive.

But now? Now I cannot find that strength. I search and search, and I only find weakness, and weakness is to be pitied, and pity? Pity is to be scorned. Who wants pity? At least if someone hates you, that hatred encapsulates a strong emotion. Pity bears nothing. It is hollow and useless.

“My mind is blank, as indifferent as the
noonday heat. But images of memories descend from afar and land in
the bowl of water, neutral memories, neither painful nor joyful, such as
a walk in a pine forest, or waiting for a bus in the rain, and I wash them
as intently as if I had a literary crystal vase in my hands.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from “A coloured cloud”

My heart feels old. My soul feels rent. My mind feels spent. And I have to wonder who decided that life should always be hard, that the good days should always have a shadow cast upon them. I have to wonder how other people survive in this world, this world so full of heartbreak and sorrow. How do the strong survive? How do the weak find the strength to try once again?

Rain on a Window Gabriele Diwald FCC
Rain on a Window by Gabrielle Diwald (FCC)

It’s all such a mystery to me. I can discern no patterns. Perhaps all of the patterns I once saw were only an illusion. It’s all too much like a fogged pane of glass, a window that steam has cloaked, and then that steam devolves into rivulets that run down the pane so quickly to nothing.

We sleep. We wake. We love, and we hate. We eat, and we cry, and we make love as if it were the last time. We lie and we steal, and we move against one another. We forge alliances and then just as easily break them. We speak decisively, and we wonder what we speak. We cling and we rend, and we scream until sound fails us. We fall and fall again. We turn and turn again.

“To be left with only the trace of a memory is to gaze at an armchair that’s still molded to the form of a love who has left never to return: it is to grieve, it is to weep.” ~ Orhan Pamuk, from The Black Book

At different points in my life, I have felt as if I knew exactly what fate had in store for me. So clear was the way ahead. So determined was the heart beating in my breast. And then at other times I have felt as if the roads that I took were actually part of one large labyrinth, seeming to move in one direction, when in actuality, every path reached a dead end.

Water Drops by Jo Naylor FCC
Water Drops by Jo Naylor (FCC)

The people around me search for answers and find none. The man on the corner, holding the tattered piece of cardboard declaring his humble wishes, talks to me of kittens. The woman moving so sure-footed down the hallway stops in her forward progress to ask if I need help. The son walks past me as if he does not see me until I call his name.

And you there, on the bed you have made, how does it feel? Was it everything you ever wanted? Or was it full of briars and thorns, hidden amidst the down?

“you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.” ~ Louise Glück, from “The Sensual World”

I speak in riddles because that it the only way I know through. Perhaps if I meander enough, I will once more find my way. Or perhaps if I meander too much, I will find myself completely lost.

Peony in Rain by James Mann FCC
Peony in Rain by James Mann (FCC)

The shore is not calm, and the moon is not high, and all of the stars in the universe are hidden from me because they contain truth. And this truth they have scattered here and there, placed a grain here in this broken shell, and another one there, in the knothole of that oak. I know this because I once found truth in the discarded hull of a walnut, and when I looked closely, I saw that its center was shaped like a heart. And I thought to myself, “At last. Here it is, at last.”

And I thought to place that small wooden heart safely under my pillow, where it would conjure restful nights of sleep and dreams, but when my fingers sought beneath my pillow, it was gone.

Truth is like that.

“There’s no understanding fate;” ~ Albert Camus, from “Caligula”

One day, I may actually find my place in this world, but more than likely not. I have no more right to peace of mind than the woman in line behind me at the grocery store, even though she seems to have found her calm place through Dr. Pepper and potato chips.

Rainy Day by Keshav Mukund Kandhadai FCC
Rainy Day by Keshav Mukund Kandhadai (FCC)

Can it be bought, this peace of mind? Can I find it amid the words I finger on the screen, as if prying them loose would free them to become realities? Is it hidden in the pages of sonnets an old lover once gifted me, or is it there, among the cornflowers growing absently in the cracked pavement of the parking lot?

Milton lost paradise, and I have yet to find it, but I came close once, so very close . . . but too soon I found that it had only been my imagination, running rampant once again. And so I stand at the shore, tempering my pulse to beat with the outgoing tide—its fierce syncopation ultimately forcing air into my lungs, even as I try to cease the sweep of time’s second hand none too well, if not at all.

More later. Peace.

Music by Angus and Julia Stone, “Draw Your Swords”

                   

It Rains

It rains
over the sand, over the roof
the theme
of the rain:
the long l s of rain fall slowly
over the pages
of my everlasting love,
this salt of every day:
rain, return to your old nest,
return with your needles to the past:
today I long for the whitest space,
winter’s whiteness for a branch
of green rosebush and golden roses:
something of infinite spring
that today was waiting, under a cloudless sky
and whiteness was waiting,
when the rain returned
to sadly drum
against the window,
then to dance with unmeasured fury
over my heart and over the roof,
reclaiming
its place,
asking me for a cup
to fill once more with needles,
with transparent time,
with tears.

~ Pablo Neruda

“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims . . .” ~ Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things

Emil Nolde Sunflowers c1925-30 watercolor on paper
“Sunflowers” (c1925-30, watercolor on paper)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“Here was a flower (the daisy reflected) strangely like itself and yet utterly unlike itself too. Such a paradox has often been the basis for the most impassioned love.” ~ Thomas M. Disch, from The Brave Little Toaster

Emil Nolde Flower Still Life with Orchids c1923-24 watercolor
“Flower Still Lifew tih Orchids” (c1923-24, watercolor)
by Emil Nolde

Questions from Flowers (found on tumblr):

  • Daisy: How old were you when you had your first kiss? I was 12.
  • Carnation: If I handed you a concert ticket right now, who would you want to be the performer? Believe it or not I would like it to be country singer Luke Bryan; I think he’d be great in concert. Second choice would be Alison Krauss.
  • Jasmine: What color looks best on you? Red. Then black. Then purple.
  • Foxglove: Name three facts about your family? First, we have Filipino blood. Second, my father was a guerilla during the second world war. Third, there is a strong strain of military service throughout.
  • Allium: What’s the best thing you can cook? Brunswick Stew.
  • Orange Blossom: If you could pick the gender and appearance of your child, would you? No. Are you crazy?  Life should be full of happy surprises, your children most of all.

“Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  • Calla Lily: If you died right now, what song would you want to play at your funeral? “Where the River Meets the Sea,” and of course, “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

    Pierre Bonnard Daffodils in a Green Pot 1887
    “Daffodils in a Green Pot” (c1887, oil on canvas)
    by Pierre Bonnard
  • Poinsettia: Favorite holiday dish? Cranberry Relish followed by Pecan Pie.
  • Oxlip: Would you ever get into a long distance relationship? I have. They’re very hard.
  • Primrose: Favorite kind of soup? Homemade beef vegetable soup.
  • Daffodil: What’s the most thoughtful present you’ve ever received? Anytime I am given a book or a gift card to buy books, but thoughtful is not romantic, and the most romantic present I’ve ever received was a string of pearls from my husband when we were dating.
  • Rose: Are you currently in love with someone? Yes, very much so.

“Yes, just like those flowers. There’s something strained, but there’s beauty in that. Something like that” ~ Koushun Takami, from Battle Royale

  •   Amsonia: Would you ever become a vegan? Probably not even though it would be better for me in some many ways.

    Emil Nolde Red Hawthorns with Green an dYellow Leaves and Brown Grass c1930
    “Red Hawthorns with Green and Yellow Leaves and Brown Grass” (c1930, watercolor on paper)
    by Emil Nolde
  • Peony: What’s your favorite hot beverage? It’s a tie between Hot Tea (preferably Darjeeling) and Southern Comfort served warm with honey and lemon.
  • Tulip: For your birthday, what kind of cake do you ask for? I like apple pie, or if not, homemade cheesecake.
  • Myrtle: Do you like going on airplanes? I used to, but lately I find them so cramped.
  • Hibiscus: Did you ever play an instrument? If so what? Piano, classically trained for 14 years.
  • Zinnia: Who was your best friend when you were six years old? Creighton Firth.

He knew the plants by name and took a few minutes with each of them: ageratum, coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia. The yarrow, he said, had rose-red flowers on two-foot stems. Achillea millefolium, the plant Achilles used to heal wounds.” ~ Frederick Weisel, from Teller

  • Poppy: What color was your childhood home? Brick.

    Only One by Georgia O'Keeffe 1959
    “Only One” (1959, oil on canvas)
    by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Hydrangea: Starbucks order? Venti latte (no bells or whistles)
  • Violet: Do you like where you’re from? Do you mean where I was born (yes), or my heritage (yes), or where I’m currently living? The answer to the last is probably sometimes. It’s a nice area, but it’s not where I want to spend my life.
  • Locust: What was your favorite book as a child? A Secret Garden
  • Rhododendron: What’s the scariest dream you’ve ever had? I have lots of scary dreams, usually involving some kind of killing.
  • Queen Anne’s Lace: Would you rather carve pumpkins or wrap presents? Wrap presents.

Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, from The Little Prince

  • Magnolia: Favorite kind of candy? It varies. Right now it’s Starburst berries. Last year it was gummi bears. A few years ago it was Twizzlers . . . so chewy stuff.

    Odilon Redon Three Vases of Flowers  1908-1910 oil
    “Three Vases of Flowers” (1908-10, oil on canvas?)
    by Odilon Redon
  • Aster: Would you rather be cold or hot? Cold. You can always add more clothes or blankets.
  • Marigold: Do you listen to what’s on the radio? Not usually.
  • Heliconia: Do you like when it rains? Yes, if it’s storming with lightning. Just cold rain, not so much.
  • Azalea: What’s a movie you cried while watching? So many: Return of the King is the first one that comes to mind. But I remember I wept during The English Patient.
  • Dandelion: Do you think you’re important? Not nearly as important as I think I am.

                   

Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”

                   

Findings

Found what I think are the breast feathers
of a flicker lying in the melting snow
in front of the house. Found a crow feather
in Bozeman one spring and have kept it
in a vase on top of the dresser. Yarrow grows
where my son planted a root last summer,
and hyssop seeds have sprouted
with the wildflowers. Found spearmint
growing under the outside faucet
and tiny blue snails in the fallen apples
and black and white hornets stumbling drunk
around the rotting apples in August. The columbine
had eight inches of new growth in January,
and two summers ago found a red-shafted flicker
lying in the alley behind my house
with grass in its throat and wasps
crawling in and out of its mouth.
Its wing feathers were dazzling
and I took them, buried its body
in tall weeds, saved the feathers
in checkbook boxes in the dresser
beside a Norwegian pewter cake server,
a twenty dollar bill, some old ribbons
and a flat rock from the Marias.
His mate remained in the neighborhood until fall,
and this February a pair or flickers returned
to eat last year’s sunflower seeds
at the side of the garage.
One spring, hundreds of crows filled a single tree,
their black wings shifting against dense bodies
and air, their voices calling across leaves
then reeling into space.
Saw flickers in the park last spring,
a male calling with such racket
my son covered his ears, and
from across the park, through twigs
and leaves pushing out from resinous shells,
a female approached, blended into bark
and clouds, and for an instant, opened to the sound.

~ Tami Haaland

“I do what I do, and write what I write, without calculating what is worth what and so on.” ~ Arundhati Roy

“Moon and Stars,” by Aaron Siladi (mosaic tiles), San Francisco, CA

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget . . . Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
~ Arundhati Roy

“The truth is that it’s far easier to make a bomb than to educate four hundred million people.” ~ Arundhati Roy, The End of Imagination

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