“Our memory fragments don’t have any coherence until they’re imagined in words. Time is a property of language, of syntax, and tense.” ~ Siri Hustvedt, from The Sorrows of an American

Maximilien Luce 1896 oil on canvas Moonlight on Charleroi Canal
“Moonlight on Charleroi Canal” (1896, oil on canvas)
by Maximilien Luce

                   

“I don’t know what map I misread,
its roads now slipped into dust,
what cul-de-sacs and one-way streets
could have brought me to this,
my life driven as if through fog into a river.” ~ Judy Jordan, from “Fragments in February”

Tuesday afternoon. Rainy and cool, 50 degrees.

I think that my body is trying mightily hard to succumb to my annual fall cold, but I really don’t have time for that. This time last year I had a houseful of company, and I was heading for yet another case of pneumonia, but this year I made sure that I got a pneumonia vaccine along with my flu shot, so maybe . . . fingers crossed.

So, we’re back from our epic New Orleans trip, and I don’t even know where to begin, so how about if I just ramble a bit and see where it takes us? You good with that?

Emil Nolde Half Moon over the Sea 1945
“Half Moon over the Sea” (1945)
by Emil Nolde

Great.

So we finally made it past the boundaries of Hampton Roads last Monday around 8:30 a.m. (or so) after getting turned around almost immediately, this after a planned departure time of 6 a.m. (yes, I know, although we did pull out of the driveway before 7). We both thought that we knew where we were going, but apparently, not so much. Picked up the rental the evening before, and even that turned out to be a mess: We were supposed to get an Altima, but the guy at the counter said that the Altima was in bad shape, so he talked Corey into a Mustang convertible.

Okay, so at one point in my life the idea of traveling in a Mustang convertible would have been awesome, but the very thought of traveling for 16 hours in such a low-slung car made me uncomfortable, so another trade, and for only $10 more a day . . . ended up with a Mazda CX5 (I believe), which was pretty comfortable and great on gas; however, the upgrade pretty much negated all of the bargain shopping I had done online, along with the discount that I had found on one site. Oh well . . .

“The silence of landscape conceals vast presence. Place is not simply location. A place is a profound individuality. Its surface texture of grass and stone is blessed by rain, wind, and light. With complete attention, landscape celebrates the liturgy of the seasons, giving itself unreservedly to the passion of the goddess. The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness.” ~ John O’Donohue, from “The Celtic Underworld as Resonance”

The drive wasn’t too bad as far as road conditions and weather, nothing like the great blizzard we drove through a few years ago, and we arrived in New Orleans around midnight (I think, it was kind of a blur). The good news is that our hotel was right in the French Quarter (Place d’Armes, definitely worthy of repeat visits), and they had upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge. We had a lovely balcony, and the ambiance was so nice, very old New Orleans. Parking, however, cost us $30 a night, so we made mental notes to try to find street parking for the second night, which we were actually able to do. Woo Hoo.

Konstantin Korovin Moonlit Night period Winter 1913 oil on canvas
“Moonlit Night. Winter” (1913, oil on canvas)
by Konstantin Korovin

So we got up early on Tuesday after only about six hours sleep and headed out to the first company that Corey wanted to visit. The website had stated that applications would be taken at both locations, but the New Orleans office directed us to their other headquarters, which was in Galliano. Our game plan had been to go to the NOL office first and then to Cut Off and then to Covington. That plan was changed immediately and we had to regroup and head to Galliano. Unfortunately, the first company seemed completely disinterested in him, which was a set back as this was his first choice.

Fortunately the second company on our list was just down the road from Galliano. This company was very interested in Corey, but the downside was that they weren’t hiring until February. The good news is that they are building a bunch of new boats/ships and have plans to hire 300 people in early 2014, so it looks very promising; however, by the time Corey finished speaking with the recruiter it was 3 p.m., and there was no way that we’d make it to Covington in time to speak with anyone before COB.

This meant a bit of a delay as we had planned to leave late morning Wednesday and possibly to stay somewhere on the route home. We had no idea how much of a delay it would turn out to be . . .

“On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The River of Bees”

Tuesday evening, back in New Orleans, we roamed around the French Quarter, spent some money, and had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant that wasn’t too pricey. Best crab cakes I’ve ever had—hands down. We had originally brought going out clothes with us, but neither of us had the energy to change, get gussied up, as it were. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter what you wear (we saw one guy in a Spiderman outfit, and another one in some kind of monster get-up with spikes—pictures to come).

Nicholas Roerich Spell period New Moon period 1938 tempera on canvas
“Spell. New Moon.” (1938, tempera on canvas)
by Nicholas Roerich

So we acted like tourists, drank libations as we meandered along the streets, bought souvenirs and a few Christmas presents, then headed back to our very comfortable room and slept the sleep of the very tired. On Wednesday morning we had breakfast at the famous outdoor Cafe du Monde (only two blocks from our hotel), home of the famous delectable beignets. I inhaled my portion and delighted in my very large cafe au lait. Then back to the hotel to check out and get back on the road to Covington and company number 3.

Now while Corey was doing all of these interviews, I was hanging out in the car, pirating wi fi and trying to do something to amuse myself, mostly tumblr and some lazy magazine browsing. Company number 3 turned out to be super interested in Corey and said they’d be in touch. We plotted our route home, found a nearby Sam’s Club, gassed up, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, Corey got a call from #3 asking if he could come in and fill out paper work. Second big Woo Hoo.

Great news, but . . . he needed to do a drug test and physical, as well as an agility test, and none of that could be done until . . . wait for it . . . Thursday . . .

“Change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.” ~ John Steinbeck, from Sweet Thursday

So there really wasn’t a choice, was there? I called the rental company, added another day, and we regrouped, again. Fortunately #3 paid for our hotel and breakfast for Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Small woo hoo only because it was a regular hotel and not the très cool accommodations from which we had just decamped, but hey, free . . .

Eugene Fredrik Jansson Moonlight Night 1896 oil on canvas
“Moonlit Night” (1896, oil on canvas)
by Eugene Fredrik

Thursday morning on to clinic for physical. Three hours later (I really don’t know what they do that takes three hours, but Corey said it was a whole lot of waiting). Slight hiccup on his physical (nothing major), and then around the block to the physical agility place.

Finally at 3 p.m., we were done. Decided to go ahead and eat dinner then hit the road so that we could try to make up some time (hooray for 70 mph speed limits and radar dectectors). Found a little locals restaurant and finally had our genuine Po Boys, shrimp and oyster, respectively. Full stomachs, weary bodies and minds, we hit the road around 4:30.

Everything had happened so fast, and we had had so very little time between everything that I think we were both kind of shell-shocked by this point.

“I’m forging my note to the future, recording
all I know of this moment before
the moment completes itself” ~ Chris Forhan, from “The Taste of Wild Cherry”

Corey drove for a while. I took over in the middle of the night. We stopped in a rest stop somewhere and napped for an hour like about 20 other weary travelers and many, many truck drivers (did you know that Virginia doesn’t let you do this? Of course not.). Anyway, we pulled into our driveway a little after 10 a.m.

Milton Avery Harbor at Night 1932
“Harbor at Night” (1932, oil on canvas)
by Milton Avery

We’re both still processing everything. Corey has to go back in December for training, and we’re not sure how many weeks that will be, and there is a possibility that he’ll go straight from training onto a ship. So much to digest.

Brett and the dogs were very glad to have us home; the dogs had apparently pined away for us and had made Brett’s life miserable.  Corey immediately fell into bed, but I was too wired by then, so I unpacked and cleaned, hoping to exhaust myself, but that never really happened. The weekend was a total blur, and I feel that I am so far behind that I may never catch up.

“You must make decisions knowing those decisions make you.” ~ Rakishi, from “The son without his father”

Anyway, here is where we are: Corey has a job, but is still in denial, kind of that other shoe dropping thing, you know? He can’t help it as he’s been bitten in the butt more than once by supposed job offers. I keep telling him that this company is different—well established, big, good reputation, not like some of the companies he’s had to endure in the past. He won’t be on tugs, but off-shore supply vessels (OSV’s). He’s anxious at the idea of starting over, but the good news is that this recruiting guy really seemed to like him and was already mentioning Corey upgrading his qualifications.

Nicolas Tarkhoff Paris, Montparnasse at Night c1905
“Paris, Montparnasse at Night” (c1905, oil on canvas)
by Nicolas Tarkhoff

So it’s Thanksgiving week. My body aches all over, and I haven’t quite recovered from the five days of whirlwind activity. The house is trashed. I am totally unprepared for Thursday, and truthfully, it’s beginning to hit me that Corey may not be here for Christmas. So much is still up in the air, and the trip ended up costing us a small fortune, but it was so worth it. We had a really nice time together, got to experience another new place with each other, had some great food (as my stomach can attest), and it looks like we’re about to embark on a new path.

Hard not to be anxious, but trying to be calm. Anyway, that’s the quick and dirty version. Lots of little details in between that I may tackle later before they slip through the sieve that is my brain. Until then . . .

Peace.

Music by London Grammar, “Nightcall”

                   

No crying, calling out, complaining…

No crying, calling out, complaining,
This all will pass, like the green of gold,
Like the white smoke of apple blooms,
And I won’t be as young as I used to.

Already, your blood isn’t as quick as it was,
I tell my heart—and it’s getting colder.
White birch roots stitch the ruddy fields
And you’ve lost the urge to wander.

Lips and eyes, emotions:
Where are your fire and anger,
Where your floods?
All were fresh, now are errant, scattered.

My wants are sparer now, leaner,
Or maybe they were just a dream
—Like the moment morning flashes green—
And I charged past on my sorrel steed.

We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.

~ Sergei Esenin, trans. James Stotts

Two for Tuesday: November’s Innate Sadness

Luna Moth L Liwag
Luna Moth
by L. Liwag

                   

“Who can guess the luna’s sadness who lives so
briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone
longing to be ground down, to be part again of
something livelier? Who can imagine in what
heaviness the rivers remember their original
clarity?”

~ Mary Oliver, from “The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers”

                   

Nicholas Roerich Sadness paren Two in a Boat 1939 tempera on canvas
“Sadness (Two in a Boat)” (1939, tempera on canvas)
by Nicholas Roerich

Majority

Now you’d be three,
I said to myself,
seeing a child born
the same summer as you.

Now you’d be six,
or seven, or ten.
I watched you grow
in foreign bodies.

Leaping into a pool, all laughter,
or frowning over a keyboard,
but mostly just standing,
taller each time.

How splendid your most
mundane action seemed
in these joyful proxies.
I often held back tears.

Now you are twenty-one.
Finally, it makes sense
that you have moved away
into your own afterlife.

~ Dana Gioia

                    

Akseli Gallen-Kallela Lake Keitele 1905
“Lake Keitele” (1905)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

My Friend Says

When my friend says he’s
Walking closer to sadness
I know he means his own
Yet I also know precisely

What he means & he means
The gods he once admired
Because for so long they
Seemed to admire him

Have emptied their quivers
Into his flesh his very flesh
& he says this to me
Because he knows I too stood

In this exact moonlight
Stripped of every possibility
& divine protection
Except for a silver medallion

Of St. Sebastian hanging
Like a noose around my neck
& if the night that night was
A mirror then I believe so too

Was I the plain reflection
Of the long sadness of my friend

~ David St. John

                   

Music by Jessy Greene, “In Crimson”

Related articles

“A little light is filtering from the water flowers. | Their leaves do not wish us to hurry: | They are round and flat and full of dark advice.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Crossing the Water”

Otto Modersohn The Cloud 1890
“The Cloud or Die Wolke” (1890)
by Otto Modersohn

                   

“The lake, as usual,
Has taken its mood from the sky,
Its color also,
The blue that breaks hearts.” ~ Tom Hennen, from “June, with Loons”

Thursday afternoon, Halloween. Cloudy and warm, mid 70’s.

John Henry Twachtman Sailing in the Mist c1895 oil on canvas
“Sailing in the Mist” (c1895, oil on canvas)
by John Henry Twachtman

The fates have been reversed for about a week or so: I’ve been wanting to write, have had much to say, but have had no time to spare until just this moment. I’m hoping that I can finish this post before the neighborhood kids begin to roam, and the dogs begin to go crazy. We’ll just have to see.

Since I have so many different thoughts going in so many different directions, I thought I’d do a random thoughts post. Here goes:

  • I learned a new word the other day: deliquescent, becoming liquid or having a tendency to become liquid. Doesn’t that just sound as if it should be in a poem?
  • I continue to awaken each morning with a song in my head, and the song of the morning does not seem to have any relevance to anything that I can pinpoint. For example, the other morning it was The Courtship of Eddie’s father theme song.
  • There is a running theme that occurs in my dreams, regardless of what the main theme is: I have forgotten to feed the dogs that stay in the backyard. I only remember them after several days. I find them in various states of illness—listless, dehydrated, close to dying.
  • Last night I dreamt of my family in Great Bridge, all of my cousins; one of my cousins introduced me to his friend and said that I had gone off to sing. I was very confused because I didn’t remember having a singing career.
  • I bought Halloween candy that I’m not particularly fond of hoping that it would keep me from delving into the bag; this has not worked completely.
  • Does too much sugar affect your dreams?

“She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.” ~ Oscar Wilde, from “De Profundis”

Pierre Henri Valenciennes Rome colon Study of Clouds 1780s
“Rome: Study of Clouds” (1780s, oil on paper mounted on board)
by Pierre Henri Valenciennes

So here’s the latest news from around the home:

  • Corey will be in port on Saturday. He’s getting off the ship before they travel to Ascension; we have to fit in the trip to New Orleans before all of the holidays roll around.
  • I weigh four pounds less on my pain doctor’s scale. I like that scale.
  • Olivia is going to be a lady bug for Halloween; I bought her some black and white Mary Janes with red bows, too cute.
  • I wonder how many of you remember those hard leather shoes made by Stride-Rite for toddlers, how we were all forced to wear them and then in turn told to force our children to wear them .  .  . somewhere along the line, the doctors who decide said that tennis shoes were better for young feet.
  • I read where Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa bought the young prince silver casts of his hands and feet for a christening gift, and media voices were calling the gift creepy. How is that any creepier than bronzing baby shoes like everyone in my mother’s generation did?
  • My current fascination with all things make-up related continues. Don’t ask me why as I haven’t the faintest idea.
  • Lately, I’m fixated on just the right make-up brushes.

“And if all that is meaningless, I want to be cured
Of a craving for something I cannot find
And of the shame of never finding it.” ~ T. S. Eliot, from The Cocktail Party

Tom Thomson Grey Sky 1914 oil on wood
“Grey Sky” (1914, oil on wood)
by Tom Thomson

Funny, I thought that I had so much to say, but the last few hours have had so many interruptions that I cannot seem to find my train of thought.

  • It’s far too muggy to be October.
  • I just remembered that I had another dream about the real estate firm where I worked. In these dreams I’m always trying to please my boss, unsuccessfully.
  • I don’t want to think about how many jobs I have failed at; it’s just too depressing.
  • Neither Brett nor I went to any Literary Festival events this year.
  • I finally watched the movie Sylvia in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath and Daniel Craig plays Ted Hughes. The movie wasn’t bad, but I think it soft-pedaled the depiction of Hughes.
  • At the moment I’m feeling very displaced, as if I’m on the verge of something without really knowing what or why.
  • The other day I realized that this year marks 25 years since Caitlin. It still feels so immediate, so close, yet not.
  • I wonder if anyone else can understand anything I am trying to say.

“But mountain weariness and mountain hunger — how few know what these are!” ~ John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

August Strindberg Packis i Traden 1892
“Packis i Stranden” (1892, oil on zinc)
by August Strindberg

She said, apropos of nothing . . .

  • My mother ordered me some strange gadget from QVC. I told her that I didn’t have room for it, and I didn’t really need it. She insisted that I had told her I wanted it. This would be hard as I have no idea as to what it is. Patience. Patience.
  • QVC preys on the shut-ins, the elderly, and the lonely.
  • I probably won’t see the mountains again this year.
  • Obviously, I’m not going to apply to the doctoral program at GW since I have made no further efforts in preparing.
  • I am my own worst enemy.
  • Now that Corey is coming home, we can finally finish the bathroom, all of the things we couldn’t do before he left, and all of the things I couldn’t do on my own—not a whole lot, actually. Still, unfinished is unfinished.
  • I have the strangest feeling that I have forgotten to do something really important, but I have no idea as to what it might be.

“While the earth breaks the soft horizon
eastward, we study how to deserve
what has already been given us.” ~ William Stafford, from “Love in the Country”

Maurice de Vlaminck The Seine at Chatou oil on canvas 1908
“The Seine at Chatou” (1908, oil on canvas)
by Maurice de Vlaminck

On a more serious note . . .

  • I think that my mother is deteriorating mentally faster. I have noticed more things in just the last few weeks.
  • I really need to investigate what kind (if any) of support there is for seniors, as far as keeping house, running errands, that kind of thing.
  • We are not a society that values the aged, not like the Asians do.
  • I constantly berate myself for not having enough patience with my mother, yet when I’m around her, I just cannot seem to summon the patience I need.
  • I feel like a horrible daughter.
  • I am praying to the gods that be that I can teach myself more of how to live in the moment, something I have never quite mastered.
  • Am I too old to learn such things?
  • When I am with Olivia, I am forcing my mind to rest, not to think about this bill or that problem, but to just enjoy this time because I know all too well that it passes quickly.
  • I would give anything to have another fall afternoon with all three of my children when they were still young.

I happened upon the most wonderful site: Lancaster Center for Classical Studies, which posted pictures of cloudy weather for today, just as I have here. I wonder if they do that every day . . .

Nicholas Roerich Karelian Landscape c1917
“Karelian Landscape” (c1917)
by Nicholas Roerich

More later. Peace.

Music by Rosi Golan and Johnny McDaid, “Give up the Ghost”

                   

Assurance

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or in the silence after lightning before it says
its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head —
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

~ William Stafford

“what I heard was my whole self | saying and singing what it knew: I can.” ~ Denise Levertov, from “Variation on a Theme by Rilke”

"Islands Allagash (1990)by Neil Welliver
“Islands Allagash (1990)
by Neil Welliver

                   

Two for Tuesday: Denise Levertov

The Well

At sixteen I believed the moonlight
could change me if it would.
I moved my head
on the pillow, even moved my bed
as the moon slowly
crossed the open lattice.

I wanted beauty, a dangerous
gleam of steel, my body thinner,
my pale face paler.
I moonbathed
diligently, as others sunbathe.
But the moon’s unsmiling stare
kept me awake. Mornings,
I was flushed and cross.

It was on dark nights of deep sleep
that I dreamed the most, sunk in the well,
and woke rested, and if not beautiful,
filled with some other power.

                  
Nicholas Roerich Eclipse 1939
“Eclipse” (1939)
by Nicholas Roerich

                   

Wanting The Moon

Not the moon. A flower
on the other side of the water.

The water sweeps past in flood,
dragging a whole tree by the hair,

a barn, a bridge. The flower
sings on the far bank.

Not a flower, a bird calling
hidden among the darkest trees, music

over the water, making a silence
out of the brown folds of the river’s cloak.

The moon. No, a young man walking
under the trees. There are lanterns

among the leaves.
Tender, wise, merry,

his face is awake with its own light,
I see it across the water as if close up.

A jester. The music rings from his bells,
gravely, a tune of sorrow,

I dance to it on my riverbank.

                   

Music by Mooncake, “Cast the Route”

“From the stars we come, to the stars we go. Life is but a journey into the unknown.” ~ Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books

"Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary)," (oil on canvas)by Otto Hesselbom
“Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary),” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Otto Hesselbom

                   

“The part of this being that is rock,
the part of this body that is a star,
lately I feel them yearning to go back
and be what they are.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, from “In the Borderlands

Thursday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 50 degrees.

Yesterday was a crappy day, really, really crappy, and as a result, I was foul, really, really foul. Nine days into the new year, and I’m already having bad days. Sheesh.

Henri-Edmond Cross Landscape with Stars 1905-8
“Landscape with Stars,” (1905-8)
by Henri-Edmond Cross

In spite of its crappiness, I did get things done. I made those telephone calls regarding health claims that haven’t been paid. Both of the people with whom I spoke were very nice and helpful. It wasn’t them. It was just the doing of it that got to me. Does that make sense?

After years and years of always being the one to make the telephone calls, pay the bills, take care of the details with my ex, I have given up some of those responsibilities to Corey—quite willingly. I am not good at doing the finances. I freely admit that to anyone and everyone. And taking care of the details tends to make me very stressed. I don’t know why exactly. It just does. Perhaps because as the telephone is ringing, I am preparing to deal with the customer service representative from hell, so my blood pressure climbs with each successive ring, and then when someone nice answers and offers to help, I’m thrown for a loop.

Also, I think that since Corey has been taking care of so much to do with the details of life, I have allowed my patience in such things to erode. Anyway, yesterday is over. I made a few more short calls today, and my to-do-list is shorter. So enough.

“The winds that awakened the stars
Are blowing through my blood.” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Maid Quiet”

I think another reason that I was so foul yesterday was because I forgot to take my meds the day before. Not intentionally, just didn’t remember as I was so caught up in getting things done. That happens to me—I become so focused in the midst of my OCD-fueled binges that I don’t pay attention to other things, completely leave them by the wayside.

Nicholas Roerich Royal Monastery 1932 tempera
“Royal Monastery” (1932, tempera on paper)
by Nicholas Roerich

I know. I need to find balance. Easy to say. Hard to do. Balance is always just beyond my reach. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so taken with those images of balancing rocks; they represent something for which I yearn.

Anyway, enough on that. Another thing that I did yesterday—and this is surprising—is that I went through old posts looking for poems that I might submit to a journal that is accepting work. I have to submit three poems at a time. In going through the old posts, though, I found that I have written things that I actually like, even two to three years later, which makes me think more and more that I really need to go through these posts and cull the best (or what I consider to be the best), try to put together some kind of non-fiction manuscript with what I have.

This is where I need your help. If I’ve written a post of which you are particularly fond, or that you think could be readable with some work, I’d love to know about it. You can just put the title in the comments, or if you don’t remember the title but remember what the post was about, a general description would be fine. Of course, if you said something like, “You know, the one about grief,” that might be a bit hard . . .

“And silent answers crept across the stars.” ~ Hart Crane, from “At Melville’s Tomb”

But what do you think? Am I on the right track? A couple of you have suggested something along these lines to me before, but I waffled as I never quite know if I like what I’ve written enough to put it out there (there as in beyond this forum), but I have to admit that I found more than a couple of posts of which I’m not ashamed.

Neil Welliver Night Scene 1981-2
“Night Scene” (1981-2)
by Neil Welliver

Oh, who knows. Certainly not me. But I’m willing to give it a go.

So other than that, I think that I’ve managed to move beyond yesterday’s total crappiness. I’ve gotten out of my pajamas and even put on some cologne and dark circle concealer, as if I might actually be ready to greet the world. Speaking of which, and I am almost embarrassed to admit this, I realized the other day that I have not left the house in weeks. No really, weeks. This is not a good sign. This is a sign that I am regressing.

I think that I need to make it a point to go to Lex’s apartment at least one day a week to help out with Olivia instead of waiting for them to come here. But without Brett being enrolled in school this semester, I’m sort of without a reason to leave the house unless I make one. Truthfully, I don’t want to go back to the days in which I stayed inside for weeks on end. It’s just not healthy.

I have big plans to take Tillie for walks. Perhaps I should work on that.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do
and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

Obviously, I’m still fixated on the skies, first the Northern Lights, and now stars. The moon and the stars, my life-long love affair. Did you know that the Tunisians have a proverb that goes something like “If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?”—but why not both?

Mikalojus Ciurlionis Sparks III 1906 tempera on paper
“Sparks III” (1906, tempera on paper)
by Mikalojus Ciurlionis

I have to tell you that it’s damned hard for me to write a post featuring lots of words about stars and not to use any art by Van Gogh, as I don’t think that anyone before or since has painted such beautiful skies, but I made an effort and came up with some other artists’ paintings.

Speaking of Van Gogh, did you know that there are new claims that the artist did not commit suicide but instead was shot by teenagers? I know that I’m behind on this, but I find it fascinating. Apparently a book was published last year in which authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith claim that Van Gogh was fatally wounded by a friend’s teenage brother. The book is called Van Gogh: The Life, and I would love to read it.

Van Gogh has always fascinated me. He created such incredible beauty out of such immense pain. It’s as if he couldn’t create fast enough to release all of the demons inside.

When I was walking around the museums in NYC years ago, I was finally able to see some of Van Gogh’s works of art at the Met and at the MOMA. My god, they took my breath away. I would love to visit more museums housing the artist’s work.

“She was one of those stars, a bright dot in blackness, without home, without a companion, in eternal cold and silence.” ~ Maxine Hong Kingston, from The Woman Warrior

I spoke too soon. I just lost the last fifth of this post when I went to save. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Moving right along . . .

Wassily Kandinsky Moonlight Night 1907 linocut
“Moonlight Night” (1907, linocut)
by Wassily Kandinsky

I once met Maxine Hong Kingston when she was participating in the ODU Literary Festival years ago. She is such a tiny woman, and her presence was almost dwarfed on the big stage until she began to read. Later, at an after-reading cocktail party, I mustered the courage to talk to her and tell her how much I loved her work.

Just thought I’d throw that out there.

I suppose I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today after going through posts past and thinking about those wonderful afternoons at the museums. One day, I’m going to visit the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, spend hours upon hours, days upon days, just meandering through the galleries, and I’ll take Corey because I know that he will appreciate the beauty just as much as I would.

One day. Until then, I suppose I’ll just hang out here in my yoga pants, thinking about things to come, things that have been, places to see, and places I have gone. Kind of reminds me of The Beatles’ song, “My Life.”

More later. Peace.

 Music by Aesthesys, “I Am Free, That Is Why I’m Lost”

                   

Every Time

Do you have stars
in your mouth?

she asks
and I laugh,
she’s never tasted
winter like I have,
midnights that linger
for days. Yes,
I tell her. Come see.

Will there be breath?
For a while, I whisper
and blow on her hands,
but you will sing
and the aurora lights
will walk across the ice.

She lets me
put my hands on her.
Will I die? her hair
like snow.
Yes.  I tell her.
Every time.

~ Jude Goodwin

“I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of. Everything passes into it now. I don’t know what happens there.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

“Avond (Evening): The Red Tree” (1908-10, oil on canvas)
by Piet Mondrian

                   

What Makes You?
Poietes is made of flowers, Folk, and determination. With a dash of Holmes.

“Wheatfields Under Thunderclouds” (1890, oil on canvas)
by Vincent Van Gogh

I understand the flowers and determination, but not so sure about Folk. The dash of Holmes I completely get. We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. You know how someone somewhere comes up with some kind of relatively cute/intriguing program that supposedly tells you something about yourself? Well this one is called “What Makes You,” and I got the answer above, which only led me to think a bit more on what actually makes me.

Isak Dinesen once said that “the entire being of a woman is a secret which should be kept.” We all know how well I do at keeping things inside. So here is what I came up with on what makes me, what constitutes my being, those things that I embody and that embody me.

“The cure for anything is salt water—tears, sweat, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

I must begin with water:

  • The sea. I love everything about the sea, from the crashing waves to the ways in which it can be both completely placid and churning. It can be green, brown, or azure. It is never he same. The water that rolls in and licks your feet is not the same water that comes with the next wave.

    “Sea at Night” (nd)
    by David Burliuk
  • Tears. Although I do not cry nearly as often as I used to, I would be lying if I said that my being is composed of all the tears I’ve shed, decades of tears—hot and fierce, quiet and passive.
  • Rain. The rains come and with them, the cleansing. The harder they fall, the more grime that is washed away. Does anything compare to lying in bed listening to the sound of rain on the roof, unless it’s a tin roof? Or the smell of the air after a hard rain?
  • Snow. When snow blankets an area, the sound of everything changes, becomes muffled. This is as close as we can come to shutting out the noise pollution of everyday life.
  • Ice. Dangerous and deadly, an ice storm creates its own sound. The cracking of limbs ricochets like nature’s bullets. It is a fierce sound that demands respect.
  • A hot bath. Perhaps the one thing that pulls together all of the rest: hot and calm, it can muffle sound. If I need a good cry, I run a bath.

“The stars: what are they? They are chunks of ice reflecting the sun; they are lights afloat on the waters beyond the transparent dome; they are nails nailed to the sky; they are holes in the great curtain between us and the sea of light; they are holes in the hard shell that protects us from the inferno beyond; they are the daughters of the sun; they are the messengers of the gods;” ~ Eliot Weinberger, from “31: The Stars” in An Elemental Thing

The sky:

  • The night sky. I need to live somewhere that allows me to see, really see the stars at night. These lights in the firmament are simultaneously pinholes and massive. They are both cold and hot.

    “Eclipse” (1939)
    by Nicholas Roerich
  • Lightning. Flashes that cut the sky, lightning encompasses a side of me that I try to harness. From afar, it is relatively benign, but up close, it can be forbidding. I am drawn to the chaos of it, the seeming randomness. It cannot be controlled. It will do as it wants.
  • Twilight. The period right before sunset, the gloaming. It happens quickly, and can be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Within these few moments, the light shifts, the air stills, the sound pauses. Perhaps not in reality, but sometimes it seems to be so. It is the hour of magic, the time of possibilities. I like to think that it still resides within me somewhere.

Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start there.” ~ Cheryl Strayed

Words and Images:

  • Books. Every book that I have ever read, one thousand? two thousand? I do not know. They are all here. Every word, every phrase, every sentence. Portals to other worlds, to other realms, to other people.

    “Three Trees in Grey Weather” (1891)
    by Claude Monet
  • Songs. This combination of words and sound, how it can reach in and wrap itself around the heart, and either squeeze or massage.
  • Maps. Torn, yellowed records of ancient places and forgotten discoveries, with words that feel foreign on the tongue.
  • Poetry. How to explain this, this combination of words that can be like a song, or a prayer, or a book, or a letter? This creation that can encompass every single emotion you have ever felt. There is no explanation for the ineffable.
  • Art. The transference of beautiful words into an image, the selection of color and form as acute and deliberate as the choice of a noun or verb.

“I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.” ~ Andrea Gibson, from Asking Too Much

The physical:

  • Hands. My father’s hands, the older I get the more of my father I see in them. Hands that have held and caressed and soothed. Hands that have worked and toiled.

    “Ladakh. Golden Clouds over Blue Mountains (1943)
    by Nicholas Roerich
  • Eyes. Who do these eyes belong to? In youth, one eye was slightly lazy, made me self-conscious as only a 13-year-old can be. I had to learn to love my eyes.
  • Skin. The color of olives and mocha, the meat of an overripe banana, and a fresh brown egg. Different hues on different days. It makes me, defines me, and separates me.
  • Hair. Dark as coffee with flashes of red wine in the sun.
  • Heart. The four chambers, the capacity for love and hate, empathy, sympathy, dissonance and resonance.

“Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream! ~ Everett Ruess, from Everett Ruess

Other things, too hard to categorize:

  • The smell of lavender and lilac, paper whites and rosemary, verbena and gardenia.
  • The sound of bells, ringing bells, church bells, chimes, gongs, fog horns. They are all hollow and full at the same time.

    “The Evening Star” (1891)
    Childe Hassam
  • The colors of blood, sand, whales, and trees. Monet’s sad purples and greens, van Gogh’s lonely blues and yellows, Rothko’s fierce red.
  • The song of a mockingbird, the lament of a mourning dove, the shriek of a red-winged blackbird.
  • The beacon of a lighthouse and the path of a falling star.

More . . .

  • The first chill of an autumn night and the smell of fallen leaves and woodsmoke.
  • The lonely expanse of the desert, the sound of a rolling stream, the smell of mountain air, and the depth of an unexplored cave.

    “Forest” (1906)
    by Mikalojus Ciurlionis
  • The sound of wind in the trees, the leaves rustling just before a storm, like a call coming from the earth itself.
  • The melancholy of Virginia Woolf and the madness of Carson McCullers.
  • The need for truth, whatever the cost, and this has cost me dearly at different times in my life. Yet I will not let go until I have it, all of it.
  • The past, the breath of the first person to ask why, the curiosity of the first person to crest the hill, the soul of the first person who recorded it.
  • The spirit of a dog, the heart of a wolf, the devotion of a dove, and the loyalty of a swan.

Poietes is water and wind, flowers and herbs, words and truth, stars and song. Poietes is heartbreak and love, devotion and silence. Poietes is the hardness of mountains and the softness of shifting sand. Poietes is gold and red and the color of the night sky. Poietes is privacy and solitude, observation and confession. Poietes is all of this simultaneously, and none of this singularly.

More later. Peace.

Music by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, “Pictures”

                   

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.

~ Pesha Joyce Gertler