“Whoever’s homeless now, will build no shelter; / who lives alone will live indefinitely so.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Day in Autumn”

Japanese Maple on the Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
by Melissa Farlow, National Geographic Galleries

                   

Two for Tuesday: October

The Love of October

A child looking at ruins grows younger
but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun.

~ W. S. Merwin

                   

October

I used to think the land
had something to say to us,
back when wildflowers
would come right up to your hand
as if they were tame.
Sooner or later, I thought,
the wind would begin to make sense
if I listened hard
and took notes religiously.
That was spring.
Now I’m not so sure:
the cloudless sky has a flat affect
and the fields plowed down after harvest
seem so expressionless,
keeping their own counsel.
This afternoon, nut tree leaves
blow across them
as if autumn had written us a long letter,
changed its mind,
and tore it into little scraps.

~ Don Thompson

                   

Music by George Winston, “Autumn: Woods”

“I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me—shapes and ideas so near to me—so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

Iron-Rich Creek Bed
by Michael Melford, National Geographic*

                   

“The ear can detect a whole apocalypse in the starry night of the human body.” ~ Jean Cocteau, from “Opium: The Illustrated Diary of His Cure”

Sunday, late afternoon. Stormy and cool, high 50’s.

Random thoughts:

  • I make telephone calls to strangers at 3 a.m. (line from unfinished poem).
  • In the shower I realized that I do not use the word sardonic enough. Great word.

    Yellow Birch, Adirondacks
    by Michael Melford, National Geographic
  • I am wearing socks with penguins on them.
  • One pitfall to cooler weather is that my bones ache, especially the bones in my back and the base of my neck.
  • Remembered line, possibly from another unfinished poem: I am not your faithless remembrance.
  • Tillie the Lab does not understand why we cannot play outside in the rain and mud.
  • Jif peanut butter is like crack cocaine for my dogs. They know when I unscrew the lid.
  • I ran out of hot water in the shower today, which is particularly ironic as I told myself that I was going to take the hottest shower possible to try to help my back. Figures.
  • I ache—literally and figuratively—to take a long hot bath that smells of lavender or verbena.
  • Why did I not know about the television show “Haven” on the Sci Fy channel?
  • There was another line that came to me in the shower, but I waited too long to put it down, and now it has escaped into the ether, probably forever.
  • I have realized that I use the pause comma quite a lot.

“I’ve stepped onto the front porch to see
the stars perforating the milky black clouds

and the moon staring coldly through the trees,
but this negative I’m carrying inside me.” ~ Edward Hirsch, from “More than Halfway”

Serious thoughts:

  • My dog Shakes is getting worse, but he still has an appetite. When he stops eating, I’ll know, and I hope that I won’t be alone.

    Stream Reflection, South Africa
    by Maurits Van Wyk, Your Shot, National Geographic
  • In my dreams, I am visited by my father and my uncle, but not by Caitlin.
  • I worry that I am becoming obsessive in my love for Olivia.
  • In retrospect, I wish that my wedding bouquet had been a small spray of fresh lavender and herbs rather than the humongous white rose thing that I carried. That this still bothers me is problematic, for me only.
  • I feel Mari’s distance too keenly in October; her birthday was the 1st of the month; we did not speak.
  • Mari was the one person to whom I could say absolutely anything, or so I thought.
  • I miss friendship on a daily basis, comforting, like a mug of hot tea.
  • Am I too old now to still do the things that I long to do? When is it too late? When are we too old? When do we accept the halfway mark?

“hushed, hushed, the mountain
hidden deer, distant, calling
leaves falling, falling
I have no friend to see
and my heart grows cold” ~ Sugawara no Michizane, rewriting an anonymous Japanese tanka

Difficult thoughts:

  • The Eagles’ song “Wasted Time” hits too close to home.
  • I do not speak to my mother enough. I find it taxing, especially in this state of mind. Another check in the guilt column.

    Autumn Brook
    by Olegas Kurasovas, My Shot, National Geographic
  • I do not want to spend my entire life in this house in this city in this state, but I’m afraid that I may do so.
  • My life has become a series of milestones, good and bad, in other people’s lives, and that I have no control over this hangs heavy about my heart.
  • I am positive that when I spoke the the former chair of my department at the reading the other day, he had no idea as to who I was. I could see his eyes darting back and forth as if to try to grasp that thread, but it never came.
  • Am I the kind of person that is easily forgotten, and if so, why didn’t I know that before now?
  • I do not want to become bitter. I really, really do not want to become bitter, and I know that this is one reason that I do not spend more time with my mother.
  • I wonder sometime if anyone will leave stones at my grave, and then I remember that I want to be cremated.

“Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally,
circling rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
a single nail, a single ruby—
all the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, “Late Prayer”

Other thoughts:

  • I do not make these lists because I am lazy. That’s just how my mind works on some days—linear progression, one step at a time—and then in prose on other days.

    Leaves, Cascade Lake
    by Michael Melford, National Geographic
  • I learned to cook spaghetti when I was 14 from a recipe on a tomato sauce can. It’s gotten better since then.
  • I remember the name of the first boy on whom I had a crush, the name of the first boy I kissed, the name of my first love, but not their faces, well, except one, and he will forever be young and that summer color of milky coffee in my mind.
  • For a time I kept my journal on yellow legal pads. I have no idea what happened to them.
  • I have had an obsession with writing implements ever since I worked at the newspaper, a lifetime ago. I ordered the office supplies, and I kept a secret stash of pens in my bottom drawer.
  • Why did I remember that?
  • I once set out in the rain to walk to the cemetery from my house. I found a dog and brought him home. The other dogs were not amused.

“How invisibly
it changes color
in this world,
the flower
of the human heart.” ~ Ono no Komachi (trans. Jane Hirshfield)

Final thoughts:

  • The theme in today’s quotes happened quite by accident.

    Autumn Leaves, Japan
    by Michael Yamashita, National Geographic
  • On a show that I was watching on Discover ID, a woman was talking about how, when she learned that her sister had been murdered, how she felt her heart break. She said that she had heard this term many times, but never really knew that it was a physical thing. I knew exactly what she was talking about.
  • The human heart is such a powerful organ and such a tender vessel, a working muscle, yet the imagined seat of the soul. And in the middle of the night sometimes, I like to place my hand on Corey’s chest to feel the strong beats of his heart as he sleeps.
  • For some reason, I always think of two places when it rains: the mountains and London.
  • This is a very telling memory: Out of all of the songs in Mary Poppins, my favorite, even as a young girl, was “Feed the Birds.” It still makes me cry.
  • I’m thinking that I have no more thoughts.

More later. Peace.

*I probably spent more time looking for images than I did writing today. I just couldn’t pinpoint what I was trying to achieve with the images, went from paintings to black and white photography, finally landed on a combination of color and water, found everything on the National Geographic photography site.

Incredibly beautiful music by Martha Wainwright, “Prosperina” (her mother’s last song, can’t believe I’ve never heard of her)

                   

Tear It Down

We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of racoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within the body.

~ Jack Gilbert (Found this on Dragonfly’s Poetry & Prolixity)