“I am tired of the litany
of months, September . . . October . . .
I am tired of the way the seasons
keep changing, mimicking
the seasons of the flesh
which are real and finite.” ~ Linda Pastan, from “In a Northern Country”
Tuesday late. Very windy and stormy, 51 degrees.
We’ve had Olivia since yesterday morning, so I haven’t really had any time to sit here until now, which is, unfortunately, because I cannot sleep. And I cannot sleep because Thanksgiving is in two days, and the house is a wreck, and Thanksgiving just generally becomes one long litany of stress and pain and a terrible ache because my dad died on Thanksgiving morning, and this is the first one without my mother, and can I just please, please, stay in bed for two or three days?
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I Love Autumn and the Shade of Meanings
I love autumn and the shade of meanings.
Delighted in autumn by a light obscurity,
transparency of handkerchiefs, like poetry just after
birth, dazzled in night-blaze or darkness.
It crawls, and finds no names for anything.
Shy rain, which moistens only distant things,
(In such autumns, marriage procession
and funeral intersect: the living
celebrate with the dead, and the dead
celebrate with the living.)
I delight to see a monarch stoop,
to recover the pearl of the crown from a fish in the lake.
In autumn I delight to see the commonness of colors,
no throne holds the humble gold in the leaves of humble trees
who are equal in the thirst for love.
I delight in the truce between armies,
awaiting the contest between two poets,
who love the season of autumn, yet differ
over the direction of its metaphors.
In autumn I delight in the complicity between
vision and expression.
“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming—that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.” ~ Albert Camus
Monday afternoon. Rainy and warm, 74 degrees.
I have an appointment with my pain doctor today, am expecting a lot of trigger point injections in my back. Then I have to find a turkey, which I’m hoping isn’t too big of a deal on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Actually, I have to find two smallish turkeys: one for Mike to smoke, and one for Corey to deep fry. We’re trying something different this year. We shall see . . .
Anyway, not a lot of time to put together anything in any way coherent, so I thought I’d marry Camus and Bonnard in a lovely blend of autumn bliss. Enjoy . . .
“For the moment at least, the waves’ endless crashing against the shore came toward me through a space dancing with golden pollen. Sea, landscape, silence, scents of this earth, I would drink my fill of a scent-laden life, sinking my teeth into the world’s fruit, golden already, overwhelmed by the feeling of its strong, sweet juice flowing on my lips. No, it was neither I nor the world that counted, but solely the harmony and silence that gave birth to the love between us. A love I was not foolish enough to claim for myself alone, proudly aware that I shared it with a whole race born in the sun and sea,alive and spirited, drawing greatness from its simplicity, and upright on the beaches, smiling in complicity at the brilliance of its skies.”
“A Corner of Paris” (c1905, oil on cardboard) by Pierre Bonnard
“Autumn 2” (1967) by Fairfield Porter
:Autumn Leaves at Play” (1950-59, watercolor on paper) by Charles Burchfield
“Lighthouse at Westkapelle” (1910, oil on canvas) by Piet Mondrian
“Autumn Painting” (1945, oil on canvas) by Ivon Hitchens
“Love Lies Bleeding” (1939, oil on canvas) by Emil Nolde
“Willows at Sunset” (1888, oil on canvas board) by Vincent van Gogh
“The Ravine” (1913, oil on canvas) by Rik Wouters
“Red and Brown Leaves” (1925, oil on canvas) by Georgia O’Keeffe
“Forest Vision” (1968, oil on canvas) by Violet Tenberg
“The Hisbiskus Tree” (1892, oil on canvas) by Paul Gauguin
“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, ‘I am falling to the floor crying,’ but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.” ~ Richard Siken
Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and a bit warmer, 52 degrees.
I love the above quote by Richard Siken because I an relate to it so completely—the absurd nature of grief, the contradictory ways in which your mind works when it is hurting most. You feel the pain in your chest, the symbolic breaking of your heart, and yet you notice the dust on the television screen. You weep, nay, you keen, and even as you are doing so, you wonder where the cobweb in the corner of the living room came from.
If we know ourselves, truly know ourselves, then we can anticipate the way in which we will react in certain situations. What is really interesting is the mind of a psychopath—they do not feel regular emotions, so they learn to act emotions, as in, “Oh, I should be sad, so I will put on a sad face,” and they do, but sometimes their sad face isn’t quite right because there is the hint of a smile on the corner of one side of their mouth, and that is when so-called normal people notice the mask slip.
What do I mean by all of this? Who the hell knows. Only that I have found myself reacting as I knew I would react to something major, something life-changing, and even as I did so, I split off and wondered if I was getting mud on my hem.
We are such strange beings . . .
More later. Peace.
Music by Nils Lofgren, “Why Me”
Snow and Dirty Rain
Close your eyes. A lover is standing too close
to focus on. Leave me blurry and fall toward me
with your entire body. Lie under the covers, pretending
to sleep, while I’m in the other room. Imagine
my legs crossed, my hair combed, the shine of my boots
in the slatted light. I’m thinking My plant, his chair,
the ashtray that we bought together. I’m thinking This is where
we live. When we were little we made houses out of
cardboard boxes. We can do anything. It’s not because
our hearts are large, they’re not, it’s what we
struggle with. The attempt to say Come over.Bring
your friends. It’s a potluck, I’m making pork chops, I’m making
those long noodles you love so much. My dragonfly,
my black-eyed fire, the knives in the kitchen are singing
for blood, but we are the crossroads, my little outlaw,
and this is the map of my heart, the landscape
after cruelty which is, of course, a garden, which is
a tenderness, which is a room, a lover saying Hold me
tight, it’s getting cold. We have not touched the stars,
nor are we forgiven, which brings us back
to the hero’s shoulders and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it. The lawn drowned, the sky on fire,
the gold light falling backward through the glass
of every room. I’ll give you my heart to make a place
for it to happen, evidence of a love that transcends hunger.
Is that too much to expect? That I would name the stars
for you? That I would take you there? The splash
of my tongue melting you like a sugar cube? We’ve read
the back of the book, we know what’s going to happen.
The fields burned, the land destroyed, the lovers left
broken in the brown dirt. And then’s it’s gone.
Makes you sad. All your friends are gone. Goodbye
Goodbye. No more tears. I would like to meet you all
in Heaven. But there’s a litany of dreams that happens
somewhere in the middle. Moonlight spilling
on the bathroom floor. A page of the book where we
transcend the story of our lives, past the taco stands
and record stores. Moonlight making crosses
on your body, and me putting my mouth on every one.
We have been very brave, we have wanted to know
the worst, wanted the curtain to be lifted from our eyes.
This dream going on with all of us in it. Penciling in
the bighearted slob. Penciling in his outstretched arms. Our father who art in Heaven. Our father who art buried
in the yard. Someone is digging your grave right now.
Someone is drawing a bath to wash you clean, he said,
so think of the wind, so happy, so warm. It’s a fairy tale,
the story underneath the story, sliding down the polished
halls, lightning here and gone. We make these
ridiculous idols so we can to what’s behind them,
but what happens after we get up the ladder?
Do we simply stare at what’s horrible and forgive it?
Here is the river, and here is the box, and here are
the monsters we put in the box to test our strength
against. Here is the cake, and here is the fork, and here’s
the desire to put it inside us, and then the question
behind every question: What happens next? The way you slam your body into mine reminds me
I’m alive, but monsters are always hungry, darling,
and they’re only a few steps behind you, finding
the flaw, the poor weld, the place where we weren’t
stitched up quite right, the place they could almost
slip right into through if the skin wasn’t trying to
keep them out, to keep them here, on the other side
of the theater where the curtain keeps rising.
I crawled out the window and ran into the woods.
I had to make up all the words myself. The way
they taste, the way they sound in the air. I passed
through the narrow gate, stumbled in, stumbled
around for a while, and stumbled back out. I made
this place for you. A place for to love me.
If this isn’t a kingdom then I don’t know what is.
So how would you catalog it? Dawn in the fields?
Snow and dirty rain? Light brought in in buckets?
I was trying to describe the kingdom, but the letters
kept smudging as I wrote them: the hunter’s heart,
the hunter’s mouth, the trees and the trees and the
space between the trees, swimming in gold. The words
frozen. The creatures frozen. The plum sauce
leaking out of the bag. Explaining will get us nowhere.
I was away, I don’t know where, lying on the floor,
pretending I was dead. I wanted to hurt you
but the victory is that I could not stomach it. We have
swallowed him up, they said. It’s beautiful. It really is. I had a dream about you. We were in the gold room
where everyone finally gets what they want.
You said Tell me about your books, your visions made
of flesh and light and I said This is the Moon. This is
the Sun. Let me name the stars for you. Let me take you
there. The splash of my tongue melting you like a sugar
cube… We were in the gold room where everyone
finally gets what they want, so I said What do you
want, sweetheart? and you said Kiss me. Here I am
leaving you clues. I am singing now while Rome
burns. We are all just trying to be holy. My applejack,
my silent night, just mash your lips against me.
We are all going forward. None of us are going back.