Hadrian’s Wall (from northumbria-byways.com)
“I have walked much to the sea, not knowing what I seek.” ~ Loren Eiseley, “The Inner Galaxy,” from The Unexpected Universe
Friday early evening. Partly cloudy and mild, low 60’s.
Still not feeling great. I suppose that I’ll have to go back to the doctor next week. I keep putting it off in the hopes that this blasted cough will finally subside, but instead, it seems to be getting worse again. So tired of coughing and coughing.
It looks as if Corey is on track to leave sometime soon after the New Year. I have very mixed feelings about all of this, as I’ve said, but in the past few days, the reality has really begun to settle into the forefront of my consciousness, and I’m not liking the reality. There’s nothing to be done, of course. This is the way that it has to be, at least for the next three months.
He’s both excited and apprehensive—I’m not sure which feeling is dominant, probably a vacillation between the two.
His current boss gave him a stellar recommendation, saying that he was the hardest worker that he had and that he wished that he had a whole crew of Coreys. High praise indeed.
Anyway, he’s gotten out his big suitcase, and has begun the search for his flannel lined work pants and such. So there’s no more denying that it’s happening, no matter how much I try to move it to the background.
“You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Last night I had a very strange dream in which I was going to some kind of holiday party with my friend Jammi, who lives in Texas. I had this really beautiful outfit and access to antique jewelry and accessories, but the outfit was quite tiresome to put on as it had closures in odd places and a long scarf, and each time I went out of the room, Jammi would change into another dress. It was most strange. And then the person who was lending me the jewelry said, “Don’t forget the choice of weapons.” Someone opened a cabinet, and there were things like small daggers and such, and they gave me a ring that had an antidote in case someone drugged my drink.
How very strange.
In the middle of all of this, my mother reminded me that I owed her $86 (where did this number come from?), and she wanted payment before I left the house. To pay her I gave her a necklace that still bore the original price tag ($80), and a pair of earrings. She seemed satisfied. The necklace was turquoise and very unattractive . . .
There was a lot more to the dream, but those are the weirdest parts. There was another dream that involved some of our German relatives, a glass of half-finished milk, and mixed nuts. Make of that what you will.
“God, give us a long winter
and quiet music, and patient mouths,
and a little pride—before
our age ends.
Give us astonishment
and a flame, high, bright.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “A Flame”
I have a feeling that I’ve used this particular Zagajewski quote before, but that’s okay. It’s beautiful enough to be worth repeating.
I’m not entirely certain what it is about winter that I love. I mean, perhaps it’s the idea of winter that appeals to me. I love snow, the emptiness of a snowy path that has yet to bear footprints, human or otherwise. I love the starkness of the trees. But since I have never lived in a really cold region, one that is frigid and icy and has unmelted snow for extended periods, I’m not certain that I would like it so much if it were my reality.
Does that make sense?
I mean, I love azure seas, so clear that what lies beneath is visible. I love white sand. But I don’t think that I’d like to live in very hot weather all year long. The heat would probably be much better for my bone pain, but I really don’t like to be hot. I like heat if I’m in the water. Then I can bear it. But I can remember being in heat that was so unbearable that it was hard to breathe. Perhaps it’s a memory from when I was in the Philippines. I don’t know.
Corey has no desire to live in a very cold climate, and I understand that because he spent a big chunk of time on a Coast Guard ice breaker in the Great Lakes—definitely cold, but I think that I do want to live in such a climate, that I do harbor this desire, and I will probably not be able to rid myself of this longing until I have experienced it. Just as I say that I would love to live in Ireland, but people tell me that it’s rainy more often than not . . . again, I don’t know. I only know what my dreams and desires are made of, what seems to me to be the perfect environs.
I know that when I was in my 20’s, and a friend of mine moved across country to live in Washington state, I was appalled. I mean, who would leave living by the ocean to live in a place that is misty and rainy? But now? Now the idea of living in Oregon or Washington state does not seem in the least farfetched.
“I carry from my mother’s womb
A fanatic heart.” ~ William Butler Yeats, from “Remorse For Intemperate Speech”
Last night/this morning around 4 a.m. I caught the end of Tom and Viv on one of the movie channels. It’s a movie about T. S. Eliot and his long-suffering wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. The marriage was not a happy one, and for the last decade of her life, Viv was committed to Northumberland House mental hospital. The movie stars Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson, and I’ve wanted to see it forever, but never think about it, so of course, it’s not scheduled to repeat anytime soon.
The problem with finding out too much about the personal lives of writers that I love is that it’s hard to think of them in the same way after learning too much. I mean, Eliot was really horrible to Viv, but I love Eliot’s poems, as witnessed by my frequent use of quotes from his work, and I believe that he’s probably one of the first true poetic influences on my writing style, or rather, poetic style. Eliot uses a lot of internal rhyme with his vowel sounds, and is partial to alliteration, as am I.
And then of course, there’s my love affair with Yeats. After seeing a picture of him years ago, it only cemented my love for his work.
Don’t call me shallow. I loved his words before his face. In fact, Yeats penned my all-time favorite lines from a poem (from “When You Are Old”):
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
When I first read those lines in college, I longed to find someone who would love the pilgrim soul in me and the sorrows of my changing face . . . Years later, I did.
“What is the water in a lake? A blank page. The ripples are its wrinkles. And every one is a wound.” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions II, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop
Anyway, not really sure what took me off on that poetic tangent, probably indicative of the way that my mind if flitting from subject to subject without any long pauses for any one thing in particular to take hold.
Today’s post features images of Hadrian’s Wall. As a passing fancy, I thought that I would see how many different perspectives I could find of this ancient edifice.
For those of you who may not know, Hadrian’s Wall was built between 122 and 128 AD and remains one of the finest example of ancient Roman architecture in Britain. Built of stone and sod by Roman troops under the orders of Emperor Hadrian, the wall was approximately 15-feet high and 8 to 10-feet wide, and it extends approximately 73 miles (80 Roman miles) across open country. Forts were built at seven-mile intervals, and milecastles, or guard posts, were built at one-mile intervals. Two turrets were placed between pair of milecastles. A ditch fronted the wall, and in the three locations in which the wall crossed rivers, bridges were built.
Hadrian’s Wall was built to help keep the Picts of the north (Scotland) out. It stretches from the North Sea to the Irish Sea (from the Tyne to the Solway). The wall remained the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire until the Romans abandoned Britain in the early 5th century (around 410 AD).
The Wall is now a World Heritage Site. You may have seen it featured in the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (above), and a representation of the wall with garrisons in King Arthur, starring Clive Owen.
For your edification. As I said, I’m all over the place today.
More later. Peace.
Music by Sia, “I’m In Here”
Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together
It’s fast and cool as running water, the way we forget
the names of friends with whom we talked and talked
the long drives up and down the coast.
I say I love and I love and I love. However, the window
will not close. However, the hawk searches
for its nest after a storm. However, the discarded
nail longs to hide its nakedness inside the tire.
Somewhere in Cleveland or Tempe, a pillow
still smells like M_____’s hair.
In a bus station, a child is staring
at L____’s rabbit tattoo. I’ve bartered everything
to keep from doing my soul’s paperwork.
Here is a partial list of artifacts:
mirror, belt, half-finished 1040 form (married, filing jointly), mateless walkie-talkie, two blonde eyelashes, set of acrylic paints with all the red and yellow used up, buck knife, dog collar, camping tent (sleeps two), slivers of cut-up credit cards, ashtray in the shape of a naked woman, pen with teeth marks, bottom half of two-piece bathing suit, pill bottles containing unfinished courses of antibiotics, bank statements with the account number blacked out, maps of London, maps of Dubuque, sweatshirts with the mascots of colleges I didn’t attend, flash cards for Spanish verbs (querer, perder, olvidar), Canadian pocket change, fork with two tines pushed together.
Forgetfulness means to be full
of forgetting, like a glass
overflowing with cool water, though I’d always
thought of it as the empty pocket
where the hand finds
nothing: no keys, no ticket, no change.
One night, riding the train home from the city,
will I see a familiar face across from me? How many times
will I ask Is it you? before I realize
it’s my own reflection in the window?
~ Nick Lantz