“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom.” ~ Charles Frazier, from Nightwoods

Writer Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

A Different Two for Tuesday

Tuesday afternoon, mostly cloudy and colder, 36 degrees.

Greetings to those of you out there in the ether. Hoping you are well. Luckily, we’ve missed the massive storm that’s hitting everyone, and all of the dogs are better and doing well. So that’s a definite relief.

Apologies for the dearth of posts in recent days; we’ve had Wi-Fi issues, as I stated last night. I hope to be able to do a regular post tomorrow, but I’ve had this particular post planned for a couple of weeks.

Instead of two shorter poems, I’ve been saving this beautiful longer poem by one of my favorite writers, Anne Sexton—

Letter Written During a January Northeaster

Monday

Dearest,
It is snowing, grotesquely snowing
upon the small faces of the dead.
Those dear loudmouths, gone for over a year,
buried side by side
like little wrens.
But why should I complain?
The dead turn over casually,
thinking:
Good! No visitors today.
My window, which is not a grave,
is dark with my fierce concentration
and too much snowing
and too much silence.
The snow has quietness in it; no songs,
no smells, no shouts nor traffic.
When I speak
my own voice shocks me.

Tuesday

I have invented a lie,
there is no other day but Monday.
It seems reasonable to pretend
that I could change the day
like a pair of socks.
To tell the truth
days are all the same size
and words aren’t much company.
If I were sick, I’d be a child,
tucked in under the woolens, sipping my broth.
As it is,
the days are not worth grabbing
or lying about.

Monday

It would be pleasant to be drunk:
faithless to my own tongue and hands,
giving up the boundaries
for the heroic gin.
Dead drunk
is the term I think of,
insensible,
neither cool nor warm,
without a head or a foot.
To be drunk is to be intimate with a fool.
I will try it shortly.

Monday

Just yesterday,
twenty eight men aboard a damaged radar tower
foundered down seventy miles off the coast.
Immediately their hearts slammed shut.
The storm would not cough them up.
Today they are whispering over Sonar.
Small voice,
what do you say?
Aside from the going down, the awful wrench,
The pulleys and hooks and the black tongue . . .
What are your headquarters?
Are they kind?

Monday

It must be Friday by now.
I admit I have been lying.
Days don’t freeze
And to say that the snow has quietness in it
is to ignore the possibilities of the word.
Only the tree has quietness in it;
quiet as a pair of antlers
waiting on the cabin wall,
quiet as the crucifix,
pounded out years ago like a handmade shoe.
Someone once
told an elephant to stand still.
That’s why trees remain quiet all winter.
They’re not going anywhere.

Monday

Dearest,
where are your letters?
The mailman is an impostor.
He is actually my grandfather.
He floats far off in the storm
with his nicotine mustache and a bagful of nickels.
His legs stumble through
baskets of eyelashes.
Like all the dead
he picks up his disguise,
shakes it off and slowly pulls down the shade,
fading out like an old movie.
Now he is gone
as you are gone.
But he belongs to me like lost baggage.


Music by Down Like Silver, “Any Day”

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“I’ve spent so much time in my head and in my heart that I forgot to live in my body.” ~ Tara Hardy, from “Bone Marrow”

Anne Redpath Border Landscape
“Border Landscape” (c1930s, oil on panel)
by Anne Redpath

                   

“If you go on valuing recognition and praise of others, you’re asking to be ruined. The only value in expression is its inherent value. The object is the object, and will continue well after you’re dead. Even when the world burns up and even the object no longer appears, you were who you were, you made what you made, you valued what you valued, and nothing else.” ~ Blake Butler, from Sky Saw

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

So it’s a full 30 degrees colder than yesterday. Yesterday fall. Today winter. And so my sinuses rebel loudly.

Not sure if I’ll finish this post today as so much is going on, but I thought that I could at least start. With any luck the internet will hold a few more days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not the case.

Károly Patkó, Trees 1924
“Trees” (1924, mixed media on paper)
by Károly Patkó

We have Olivia today; Lex and Mike are going out tonight, and Corey leaves tomorrow afternoon, so the timing is good. It’s very weird that’s he’s leaving tomorrow. I think that we are all still heavily in denial. I mean, he hasn’t even packed yet. Last night he put up the Christmas tree for me so that I don’t have to struggle with that on my own. I’ll probably decorate it tomorrow or the next day. Olivia likes the lights.

Yesterday Brett spent all day switching bedrooms. He has wanted to move into Eamonn’s old room for some time, and since Corey and Eamonn cleaned out all of the tools and bathroom reno stuff, it seemed like an opportune time. Unfortunately, he didn’t paint before he moved in, and the room definitely needs to be painted. The walls are covered in Sharpie where all of Eamonn’s friends and girlfriends past have signed. I really don’t know how that tradition began, but there was already quite a bit up there before I really noticed it. Anyway, the walls are probably going to need a primer to cover up the Sharpie.

Of course. Nothing is ever easy in this house.

“The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs. Blame the ear for its attention. Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it. There is only instinct, that living ‘yes.’” ~ Oliver de la Paz, from “Insomnia as Transfiguration”

So a new word: auscultations, which means the act of listening, or to listen to the body’s sounds made by internal organs. Cool word. Amazed that someone worked it into a poem.

Carel Weight, R A Snow, Putney
“Snow, Putney” (oil on board)
by Carel Weight, RA

I used to know how pneumonia sounded through a stethoscope. That’s the kind of knowledge that lay people shouldn’t have. I also used to know how to spot pneumonia on an x-ray. Again, not something you should know. I wonder if there is a term for knowledge forced on you by circumstance, knowledge that you would rather not have but have anyway. Probably. There’s a word for everything. If anyone knows, let me know.

So where was I? Oh yes, Corey’s leaving.

He flies out at 2:30 tomorrow. The most recent communique from the company said that they were going to try to put him on vessel a, but they weren’t 100 percent certain, but it sounds like he is going right from training to a ship. I do know that at some point he is supposed to get helicopter training, as in how to embark and disembark safely from a helicopter. Tell me that doesn’t just scare the bejeezus out of me . . .

“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom. Not being bought and sold by some idiot employer, not having the moments of her days valued in fractions of a dollar by somebody other than herself.” ~ Charles Frazier, from Nightwoods

Normally before he leaves we try to go out to dinner, but not this time. We’ve run out of both time and money. I guess all of those good meals in New Orleans will have to suffice. I get hungry just thinking about those crabcakes.

Leon Spilliaert Branches 1912
“Branches (Boomtakken)” (1912)
by Léon Spilliaert

New Orleans was a great trip, for so many reasons. I definitely want to go back and spend more time. I didn’t take that many photographs, and I would love to visit the old cemeteries.

On the crabcake night, before we went to dinner, a guy came up to us and said that he could give us directions to anywhere (we obviously looked a bit lost). I told him that we were looking for a locals restaurant that had good food and wasn’t too pricey. He took us to a diner.

His heart was in the right place, and we rewarded him for his trouble. But about two hours later we ran into him again, and he started to do his spiel, but I reminded him that we had already donated to the cause. I don’t mind helping out people when I can, and yes, he may have used the money for booze, but you know? I don’t care. We had enough money to have a wonderful dinner; five dollars was not going to matter one way or another.

“Clear moments are so short.
There is much more darkness. More
ocean than terra firma. More
shadow than form.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, “Moment,” trans. Renata Gorczynski

Sunday evening. Rainy and cold.

As I predicted, I was unable to finish this post. Corey left this afternoon. Everything was last-minute panic mode.

Giovanni Giacometti Albero aka Tree 1920 watercolor on paper
“Albero (Tree)” (1920, watercolor on paper)
by Giovanni Giacometti

Did he have his papers? His passport? Yes.

Everything? No, forgot to pack work boots.

Everything? No, forgot to pack a belt.

Got to the airport. Momentary panic. Where are my papers?

In my hand . . .

Poor boy. He was so nervous. I can’t say that I blame him. This is a very, very big step. He’s going to work for the #2 company in the entire industry. I’d say that’s a big deal. Add to that the stress of having absolutely no idea of when he will be home, whether or not they are sending him directly to a ship, or more training, or home. It’s a lot to process. We were both nervous.

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Piet Mondrian Village Church 1898
“Village Church” (1898, charcoal, gouache, pastel, pencil, and watercolor on paper)
Piet Mondrian

So I’m going to finish this and then watch some television until I feel sleepy. I’m not going to bet on when that will happen, though, as I always have a horrible time getting to sleep the first night after Corey leaves.

So many things are going on in so many different areas of our lives. I must admit that I’m feeling all over the place. I feel bad that I haven’t even checked in with Corey’s family since his dad had his operation. I’m just getting my news on everything secondhand.

Add to all of this that I think my mother must be mad at me because she hasn’t called me since the whole care thing was finally settled. Perhaps she sensed my displeasure at everything. I don’t hide my displeasure very well, which I know will probably surprise you tremendously . . .

Anyway, I’ve kind of run out of steam, so I’ll close for now. I hope you enjoy the tree images. I love them.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ben Howard, “Oats in the Water”

                   

Last Meeting

The day begins with a fog
that will not unroll. The weather
is falling everywhere, everywhere
we sit the grass bleeds to the touch.

What we have not yet said will not get said.
When you unzip your dress
a thousand insects run for cover,
the goldenrod breaks into a slow swoon.

Your touch is like the touch
of the wasp undulating in its nest,
your tongue the quick lash
of a mirror breaking on the wrist.

Everything else can wait, but will not.

~ Ira Sadoff