“Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Room Of One’s Own

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea IX 1910
“Autumn Sea IX” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, from The Secret Life of Bees

Saturday afternoon. Rainy and mild, 68 degrees.

Strange dreams last night. Something about living in Iceland. It was going to be possible to live there because the entire family was relocating there. I just remember being terribly excited by the prospect.

Emil Nolde Evening Sea at Autumn
“Evening Sea at Autumn” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

This morning I awoke with an Alison Krauss song running through my head: “Killing the Blues.” It’s a rare morning when I don’t wake up with an internal playlist running through my head. I have never been able to figure out if the song appears in my dreams or it’s just there, like a random egg. I wonder if other people wake up with a song?

Things that make you go hmm . . . . . . . .

Anyway, I just spent almost two hours perusing a blog by poet Paul Guest, with whom I was unfamiliar until the closing lines of his poem “Practice” appeared on my tumblr dash. As is often the case when I come across snatches of poems that I really like, I went on an internet scavenger hunt to try to track down the entire poem. I found it on Guest’s blog, Almost I rushed from home to tell you this. Good stuff there. I have added him to my blogroll, in case you are interested.

“’All my life, my heart has sought
a thing I cannot name.’
—Remembered line from
a long-forgotten poem.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson, from Hell’s Angels

Corey’s ship docked this morning, but I cannot pick him up until 5. He’s only here until Monday, so it will be a very short stay at home, barely enough time to say hello and to play with the dogs. But any chance to see him, for however long, is always a good thing.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea XIX 1911 oil on canvas
“Autumn Sea XIX (1911, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

Yesterday I cleaned (of course), including the ceiling fans, something I do at the end of seasons. Tillie hair was everywhere—on the walls, baseboards, lampshades. It’s strange the places it lands. Bailey doesn’t shed, or if she does, I haven’t been able to see it for the Tillie hair.

The five days of rain and counting have not been good as far as the dogs going outside. They go to the door, take one look, and turn around. Are they holding it in? The rain is supposed to last through tomorrow, but at least temperatures will be cooler this week. I hope we’ve seen the last of the 80’s for a while.

So I cleaned, and Brett cleaned, and today my back has knots in places I cannot reach. Always a lovely side-effect. Beh, I say.

“Perhaps my life is nothing but an image of this kind; perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I simply should recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.” ~ André Breton

Brett missed an opportunity to go to Floyd, Virginia this weekend with friends. Floyd is in the western part of the state, off I-81, near Roanoke. I know that I’ve passed it many times, but I’ve never stopped. It’s supposed to be a lovely place; the population is in the hundreds.

Emil Nolde Autumn Glow
“Autumn Glow” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

I expect it’s the kind of place I’d probably like to live: mountains, small population, interesting things nearby. I’m so tired of living in the city, but my dream of living away is probably just that. I mean, I wonder how I would really do without the conveniences of living just a few minutes from anything I need. One adjusts, I imagine. Still, the idea of living in the mountains, even the foothills of Virginia, appeals to me.

I know that I’ve said this before, probably many times, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here, in this brick rancher. It just seems to pointless, or perhaps it is my life that has become pointless, well, perhaps not pointless, but rudderless.

Oh, who the hell knows.

“The time of harvest and the time of poems is passing
……….
Light glitters in patches on mowed field
This hour too will be more lovely in recollection.” ~ Anna Kamienska

I’m really hoping that I’ll get to make a trip to the mountains this fall. I haven’t been in years, and I feel as if there is a big hole where those days should be. The last trip I can remember was when the boys were still young. Has it really been that long?

Emil NOlde Autumn Evening ca1930
“Autumn Evening” (ca 1930)
by Emil Nolde

This month marks the sixth anniversary since I left full-time work and began long-term disability. At the time, I never dreamed it would last this long, that I would go so many months and years without any kind of career. Another hole. So many holes in the fabric of my quilt. So many bare patches where other things should be. How did I get here? But more importantly, will I ever find my way back? Back to work? Back to days filled with more than housework and blogging, pretending I’m some kind of writer.

Obviously, I’m feeling off today, but then, when am I not feeling this way? Like French author Houellebecq (below), I feel as if things are “falling apart within me.”

“The days slip by indifferently, leaving neither trace nor memory; and then all of a sudden they stop.” ~ Michel Houellebecq, from Whatever

I don’t think I’m as much of a nihilist as Houellebecq, who was quite vocal about hating the world and the nothingness of everything. I don’t hate the world. I don’t hate life. I just sometimes feel out of place and time.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sky at Sea ca1940 watercolor on Japan paper
“Autumn Sky at Sea” (ca1940, watercolor on Japan paper)
by Emil Nolde

I mean, shouldn’t I know by now? You know, know?

I feel as if my life is one long line of I don’t knows—I don’t know if I’m a writer . . . I don’t know if I should go back to school . . . I don’t know if I should try to go back to work . . . I don’t know where I want to live . . . I don’t know.

Questions. So man frigging questions. A brain could explode from the preponderance of ponderings.

Ah, me.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Emil Nolde (German, 1867 – 1956), my current favorite artist

Music by Sleeping at Last, “Embers”

                   

Practice

Love, my faith is vague. When others speak
of how they practice it, I think of kung fu
and plywood split by pajamed banshees,
how they always say you learn
such force through practice, pain repeated until
pain isn’t pain. It’s the piccolo
with its reed humming slivers
of sound that won’t ever be music
no matter the fervor of practice,
no matter the pursed poise
of your lips. When I write you, when I peel
away the stamps one no longer
need lick, I’m careful. Careful
for ounces of ink and pulp
and minutes shaved from time
if it exists at all and these words
I strung together beyond needful elaboration
only to say I thought of you
today beside the humming fountain
and had no change to wish
you some better life,
some cloud of shade to be
at your infinite beck, your always and immediate
call. A form of faith I follow
is the sky because it never falls,
despite the testimony of chickens
snuffed by hail, ragdolled by the rain
and through my window
I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
one thing which has within it no urgency at all
over and over again.

~ Paul Guest

 

“Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” ~ W. Eugene Smith

A perigee moon rises above the Almudena Cathedral (Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images)

                            

“It shocks me how I wish for . . . what is lost and cannot come back.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

Sunday afternoon. Cold and cloudy. Below normal temperatures.

Super Moon in Pembroke, NY by jimsanders52

I finished the taxes; we owe for state, but we’ll be getting a federal return, which will immediately go towards getting a new back door. Now I need to do the FAFSA’s for Eamonn and Brett; of course, I am past deadline. I had such good intentions about getting those done in a timely way, but my health hasn’t been cooperating for a few months now.

I had wanted to post yesterday so badly, but just sitting here for an extended period was too painful. At such times, I long for my old laptop, the one that crashed and burned when I finished grad school. Maybe one day, but too many other pressing things for now.

Yesterday was Caitlin’s birthday. I didn’t even make it to the cemetery, didn’t make it out of sweats, actually. I have bought new flowers, spring colors.

 Were she still alive, she would be 23. It pains me to think of what kind of young woman she might have been. Would she have gone to college? Would she have been as driven as I was at that age? What would she have looked like; who in the family would she have resembled with her dark hair and almond eyes?

These are the things that I contemplate as each year takes me farther and farther from that painful point in my history. Yes, I know. Such extended grief is not normal, but it has been a part of me for so long that I would not know how to live without it. Truth be told, I have no desire to live without it. I mean, I am no longer consumed by my grief, but it remains with me like an old sweater that I notice occasionally when I open the drawer, and sometimes, I am so chilled to the bone that I must take out this well-worn sweater and put it on. I believe that this is a comfortable place in which to reside. It may not work for someone else, but it works for me.

“Grace is what matters in anything, especially life; especially growth, tragedy, pain, love, death. About people, that’s what matters. That’s a quality I admire quite greatly. It keeps you from reaching for the gun too quickly, keeps you from destroying things too foolishly. It keeps you alive and it keeps you open for more understanding.” ~ Jeff Buckley 

Super Moon behind St Michaels Tower on Glastonbury Tor Hill (Ben Birchall/PA/AP)

We do have good news in our house, though. Corey got a call from Precon, one of the two companies that he had been counting on. This was his second choice, but it’s still good. He starts work on Monday as a deck hand, working locally, daily.

I told him that I think that it’s actually good that he got this job first as it will allow him to readjust to being back on a boat, get his sea legs, if you will. The pay is just a bit more than his maritime security job, but he will definitely be working 40 hours a week, with probably overtime. So we can count on a regular base pay each week, something we haven’t had for three years.

It’s also good that he doesn’t have to travel as the truck is not yet working. Ford still has not come through with their buyout of the Windstar. They have paid so much more in rental fees than they owe us for the recall, but we have no control over the situation. As long as they are providing Corey with a vehicle, we are good.

Anyway, I know that Corey is quite anxious about going back on a boat. I have assured him that it will all come back to him once he is in the midst of things. Then, if and when the second company calls, he’ll be ready. Since company-hopping is pretty much standard in the industry, he shouldn’t feel any qualms about taking the much better-paying position should it be offered to him.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose providence dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of events, but some of us feel it always.” ~ William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Super moon over Prague by Benjine

I know that Corey is also carrying around a sense of loss these days. He has been thinking quite seriously about taking guitar lessons. It’s something that he has wanted to do ever since I met him, take guitar, piano, and/or voice lessons. He has a wonderful voice, and he wants to improve his range, just for personal satisfaction, which I think it lovely. He had wanted me to teach him how to play the piano, but I had to disappoint him because I know that I would not be a good teacher to someone with whom I have a personal relationship. My standards are incredibly high, and my patience is incredibly bad.

So Corey found a woman in Suffolk who teaches music with whom he made an appointment several weeks ago. We’re going Tuesday night to meet her before making any commitments.

What has Corey so disappointed is that his father had a 1960 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar that his father gave to him when he was a teenager. I have heard about this guitar for years; Corey has spoken of it in such loving terms, has told me the family history of how it was passed around, of how his older brother tried to sell it for $50 to make a quick buck. A few years ago, both of Corey’s brothers tried to convince his father to sell the guitar on E-Bay. Corey talked his father out of it—or so he thought.

Turns out, his dad sold the guitar three years ago to someone to use for parts. Seriously, I thought that Corey was going to cry. That guitar was the one thing that he has always talked about wanting to keep in the family, and I know that he was working up the nerve to ask his dad if he could have the guitar to take lessons. To find out that the guitar is gone, that it’s been gone for years, was such a blow.

He’s been heartbroken, and to tell him that we’ll find him a vintage guitar sometime in the future doesn’t quite ease the sting. It won’t be his father’s guitar. It won’t be the one his grandfather bought.

I really do understand because my mother is always threatening to sell things in her house that I cherish. My mother has never been the sentimental type, as I’ve said before, but some of those things are part of my history, just as this guitar was part of Corey’s history.

We are all products of the soil from which we were grown. Sometimes that soil is rich and nourishing; sometimes it is fallow. Sometimes it’s better to leave that soil behind, and sometimes we want to take some of that soil with us when we put down new roots. What happens when that choice is taken from us?

“Who am I, in fact, as I sit here at this table, but my own past?” ~ Katherine Mansfield

Supermoon over Upper Makefield, Pennsylvania by Mark Setash

Ah well, onto other things. I went to see my other mother-in-law at the rehab center this past week. It was terrible. She would only open her eyes once in a while; she mumbled; she couldn’t feed herself. All of these things have happened in just the last week.

I didn’t go see her on her birthday because my ex was going to be there for the family get together, but Ann, my sister-in-law told me that she was jolly and singing the Montana state song. That was on St. Patrick’s Day. Two days later, she was completely changed.

In between the mumbling, she would say something audible, and at one point, she said, quite clearly, “I’m at the end of my rope.”

I did not allow myself to cry while I was there. She didn’t need to see my tears. And as heartless as it sounds, I sort of understand why people stop going to see family members when they are in those places: It’s damn depressing. But then I think about the individual who is there, in and out of moments of lucidity, and they must wonder why they are there; they must wonder where their family is.

I’ve decided that I’m going to try to go at least a few times a week and read to her. She used to love to read, and we used to exchange books. Since Corey will be gone throughout the day with his new schedule, I’m thinking that I can drop off Brett at school and then just go the few miles down Hampton Boulevard and stop in and read for a bit.

I don’t know if it will help, but it certainly can do no harm. I know that her decline is really getting to my own mother who is only one year younger, but my mom won’t say anything.  But I can tell you this, after seeing this vital woman being reduced to a shell of herself, I vow that there is no way that I will go through the same thing. I don’t want my family to see it, and I don’t want to be trapped inside my own mind.

Perhaps you may think this a cowardly decision, but I do not. Sometimes, it’s better not to overstay. But don’t listen to me. I’m a tumble of emotions at the moment, and I know it. I think that I’ll stop now.

More later. Peace.

(All pictures are from the super perigree moon on March 19. This perigree or supermoon is visible when the moon’s orbit position is at its closest point to Earth during a full moon phase. The perigree moon, which occurs approximately every 18 years, appears 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. Unfortunately, it was not clear here, but people all over the world got some wonderful pictures.)

Music by Jonathan Czerwik,  “Tears and Laughter”

                   

Resurrection

Poetry slips into dreams
like a diver into a lake.
Poetry, braver than anyone,
slips in and sinks
like lead
through a lake infinite as Loch Ness
or tragic and turbid as Lake Balatón.
Consider it from below:
a diver
innocent
covered in feathers
of will.
Poetry slips into dreams
like a diver who’s dead
in the eyes of God.

~ Roberto Bolaño, from The Romantic Dogs, trans. Laura Healy