“ . . . She had wild eyes, slightly insane. She also carried an overload of compassion that was real enough and which obviously cost her something.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from Women

Leon Spilliaert, “Tree Trunks” (1929 watercolor and gouache on prepared board)

“As if keening on your knees
were somehow obscene
As if there were a control
so marvelous
you could teach it
to eat pain.” ~ Maggie Nelson, from Jane: A Murder

Wednesday, late afternoon. Cloudy and 52 degrees.

I’ve been sitting at this keyboard for hours, trying to figure out what to say, or if I had anything to say because I feel guilty that I haven’t posted in a few days. There’s that operational word: guilt. But the truth is that I don’t think that I really have anything to say. I answered a long email from my daughter this morning, and then I put together a small package of things for her so that Corey could take it to the post office for me; in that, I also included a handwritten note.

I seem to have run out of words.

Only this: two days ago, I was on a cleaning binge, and I thought to myself, I can put up a tree. I can do this. That was two days ago. I realize now that I was only deluding myself. Unless Corey helps me to decorate it, and he really doesn’t get much out of decorating the tree, then I cannot do it. Look. I’m forcing myself to wash my face and get dressed. I just don’t think there’s enough energy for more than that. Just as there just isn’t enough energy for here. Maybe tomorrow.

Peace.


Music by The Dixie Chicks (I always think of this song when I think of my daughter)

 


Postscript: I will share a poem from a poet who I haven’t posted in too long: Lisel Mueller. I cannot believe that I haven’t posted one of her poems for over five years. For a good description of her background and thoughts, go here.

Why We Tell Stories
……….For Linda Foster

I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

2
We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

3
Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

~ Lisel Mueller

 

“The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

(c) Perth & Kinross Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Blyth Autumn” (1963, oil on canvas)
by Robert Henderson

Two for Tuesday: October

Thursday evening. Partly cloudy and humid, 81 degrees.

Argh. Heat and humidity. What gives? I want it to feel like October, to feel like autumn.

Corey has spent the day working on the side yard again. All of the random trees have been cut down. He has mulched a huge pile from the wood, and today, he put up a make-shift fence until he has the funds to rent an auger and do all of the post holes. At some point he’s going to work on getting some of the stumps out or cut level, don’t know which, but removal requires a grinder, which costs money. Anyway, I know that he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. As am I.

We’re working on getting done the things we have to get done so that we can put this house on the market. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better. But, of course, everything takes money, so it’s here and there. It would be so nice if we had the funds to just take care of everything all at once, but alas. Not for now.

He goes back next week, and it’s been really nice to have him home for a full three weeks. With this set schedule, he’ll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and somehow we have to fit in holidays and a trip to Ohio to see the new baby. I long for easier days. Oh well . . . Baby tonight, which is always nice.

More later. Peace.

MSKG - Zonnige boom - Emile Claus (1900)
“Tree in the Sun” (1900, oil on canvas)
by Emil Claus

Late October

Carefully
the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
again.

~ Maya Angelou

                   

Léon Spilliaert October Evening, 1912
“October Evening” (1912, pastel on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

October, Mon Amour

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins

browned on the asphalt drive.

It’s got to be October,

Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory.

Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil,

Our lives are shoved in,

barely visible, but still unspoiled.

Our history is the history of the City of God.

What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess.

Whatever has given you comfort,

Whatever has rested you,

Whatever untwisted your heart

is what you will leave behind.

~ Charles Wright

                   

Music by Esthero, “Crash” (featuring Johan Johnson)

“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