Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.
~ Jack Gilbert
Quid Pro Quo
Just after my wife’s miscarriage (her second
in four months), I was sitting in an empty
classroom exchanging notes with my friend,
a budding Joyce scholar with steelrimmed
glasses, when, lapsed Irish Catholic that he was,
he surprised me by asking what I thought now
of God’s ways toward man. It was spring,
such spring as came to the flintbacked Chenango
Valley thirty years ago, the full force of Siberia
behind each blast of wind. Once more my poor wife
was in the local four-room hospital, recovering.
The sun was going down, the room’s pinewood panels
all but swallowing the gelid light, when, suddenly,
I surprised not only myself but my colleague
by raising my middle finger up to heaven, quid pro quo, the hardly grand defiant gesture a variant
on Vanni Fucci’s figs, shocking not only my friend
but in truth the gesture’s perpetrator too. I was 24,
and, in spite of having pored over the Confessions
& that Catholic Tractate called the Summa, was sure
I’d seen enough of God’s erstwhile ways toward man.
That summer, under a pulsing midnight sky
shimmering with Van Gogh stars, in a creaking,
cedarscented cabin off Lake George, having lied
to the gentrified owner of the boys’ camp
that indeed I knew wilderness & lakes and could,
if need be, lead a whole fleet of canoes down
the turbulent whitewater passages of the Fulton Chain
(I who had last been in a rowboat with my parents
at the age of six), my wife and I made love, trying
not to disturb whosever headboard & waterglass
lie just beyond the paperthin partition at our feet.
In the great black Adirondack stillness, as we lay
there on our sagging mattress, my wife & I gazed out
through the broken roof into a sky that seemed
somehow to look back down on us, and in that place,
that holy place, she must have conceived again,
for nine months later in a New York hospital she
brought forth a son, a little buddha-bellied
rumplestiltskin runt of a man who burned
to face the sun, the fact of his being there
both terrifying & lifting me at once, this son,
this gift, whom I still look upon with joy & awe. Worst,
best, just last year, this same son, grown
to manhood now, knelt before a marble altar to vow
everything he had to the same God I had had my own
erstwhile dealings with. How does one bargain
with a God like this, who, quid pro quo, ups
the ante each time He answers one sign with another?
“I am the sun and moon and forever hungry the sharpened edge where day and night shall meet and not be one.” ~ Audre Lorde, from “The House of Yemanjá”
Sunday evening, rainy.
(“House of Yemanja” was one of my favorite poems to teach in my American lit class.)
6:54 a.m., the time I last glanced at the clock on the computer. Heard the clock in the living room chime 7 a.m. Looked outside at a pearly white sky, the kind of morning sky when no sun pierces through the clouds, the kind of sky that follows a night of rain. The white sky most associated with winter. Luminous white, without color, or is white all color? I always forget that basic color principle, black, white, all color, absence of color.
I thought about beginning this post then but knew that if I did, I would probably never go to bed, and my body simply cannot tolerate such things any more.
This insomnia is killing me.
And my sinuses are in revolt. It was in the 80’s this past week; tonight they are calling for rain and snow with temps in the low 30’s. By mid-week, it’s supposed to be back in the 60’s. I feel like banging my head against a wall. It might actually make me feel better, between the no-sleep, the sinus headaches, and the ongoing computer lockups and snafus (ARGH) . . .
Diy-um, as they say in the south.
“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.” ~ John Green
Anyway, when I couldn’t sleep, I went out into the dining room and played with Tumblr on Corey’s computer until my body felt heavy. Unfortunately, while Corey and I were watching the backlog of “Bones” on the DVR, I ate Fritos, the honey BBQ swirls, which I used to eat all of the time when I was going to GW. Not so much any more. They left this coating on my tongue that I felt like scraping off with a blunt edge, even after brushing and using mouthwash. The coating stayed after chewing Tums and drinking water. Then I felt them in my chest.
I’ve been out of my Dexilant for about a week, and consequently, the GERD is acting up. Apparently, Fritos at 3 in the morning are not a good diet choice. Who knew?
After sitting up in the dining room chair for an hour or so the heaviness in my chest was gone, and I decided to try sleeping again. Grabbed an eye pillow out of the ziplock bag in the freezer and headed back to bed, only to find that all of the dogs had migrated to my side of the bed. Luckily, Corey has become quite proficient in moving Tillie in his sleep if I give him a nudge; otherwise, I am left to try to reposition the dead weight of a sleeping labrador. Not an easy task. I made myself get up this afternoon even though I really could have kept sleeping.
I so hate this—inching back the hours until I’m going to bed at a reasonable time for a night owl, only to lose traction and wind up staying up past dawn. Who lives like this?
“Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
I have so much to do that sitting here writing this post is probably irresponsible. I went through the mail basket a couple of nights ago and sorted the unopened bills, junk mail, and flyers, shredded what needed to be destroyed and put the rest in recycling. Now I really need to get back to organizing the family records. Our label maker died a while ago, and I need to set up new files. Add this to the pending taxes and FAFSAs . . . crap.
Earlier this week Corey received a departure date—today. Obviously, it didn’t happen. New date is sometime at the end of this week. I don’t even know if I should put that out there as the fates might find it too tempting and switch us up yet again. The bad thing (for me) is that when he gets actual travel orders, I start to get really down and withdraw, initially, and then I compose myself and remind myself that this is a good thing. So by the time I adjust my thinking to him actually boarding a plan and leaving, everything gets put on hold, again.
The bad thing for him is that he moves into near-panic mode only to be put on pause, which leads to more pacing and heavy sighs. When we think that we have a date, we plan the few days before, decide on the things that we really need to take care of, which is a good thing, but then when the plans change, we toss everything by the wayside, as if we’ve moved a pile of dirt from one place to another, and then instead of doing something productive with it, we just leave it in the new place where it can erode and get muddy and whatever.
“The imperfect is our paradise. Note that, in this bitterness, delight, since the imperfect is so hot in us, lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Poems of Our Climate”
Anyway, that’s where we are. My body thinks that it’s afternoon, and the clock says that it’s 7:34 pm.
“Flawed words and stubborn sounds”—some of the quotes that I’ve been coming across seem to be thrown into my lap propitiously in that they are so very appropriate in reflecting what I’m feeling. One of the bloggers who I visit made a comment about how she finds some people’s blogs so hard to follow, as if there is no real point, and it made me pause . . . Was she talking about me? Not being paranoid, more like reflective and analytical. Are my words too flawed to be worth anything to anyone else? Are my posts too full of stubborn sounds so as to be enigmatic, didactic, problematic?
Should I change up? Should I stay or should I go (old song lyrics)? Should I . . .
The section of the Joan Didion essay that I posted a couple of days ago has had me thinking quite a bit. Why do I write? It’s a topic that I’ve covered several times from different angles, but I’ve been mulling over the whole process for me, its origins, its evolution. I know that it’s a post-in-waiting, and perhaps after some sleep I’ll be able to tackle it. Didion stole the title from George Orwell, and I’ll steal the title from her. After all, stealing in writing is high praise—supposedly.
But the point? I’ve quite forgotten at the moment. I only know that I’ve got an idea rolling around in my brain. Cogitating as it were.
“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” ~ John Updike,A Month Of Sundays
I had an interesting comment on my A to Z bucket list post regarding my classification of the French as xenophobes. Of course, I was generalizing, something that I do when I’m not being careful. Nevertheless, I apologize for any offense. As I responded, I know that all French people are not xenophobes, just as I know that all Irish people do not drink Guiness, and all Australians don’t throw shrimp on the barbie.
But the point is that when we write these posts, when we put things out there for public consumption, unless we are intentionally attempting to be controversial (which I know I can be), or we are trying to be bigoted (which I really try not to be), we need to be mindful of our words.
To be honest, the word xenophobe crept into my subconscious as it is one of the few words beginning with the letter x that I really like, not the definition, but the sound of it. X is such a problematic letter, sounding like z in the English language, and sh in many Asian languages, etc. So in the back of my mind when I was thinking about possible entries for X (which I know I copped out on), xenophobe planted itself firmly in my subconscious data file. Not an excuse, just an explanation.
Sorry this has been such a fluff post, but I’m on auto-pilot. Not an excuse, just an explanation.
More later. Peace.
Music by Cass McCombs, “Broken”
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.