“Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Night and Day

Ferdynand Ruszczyc Bajka zimowa 1904
“Bajka zimowa (Winter Fairytale)” (1904)
by Ferdynand Ruszczyc

“Go down to the place in you where fire and silence dwell—the place of power . . .” ~ Anne Powell, from Going Deeper

Saturday late afternoon. Sunny and cold, 34 degrees.

Hello. Once again, a bit of a break between posts. I can only say that for some reason, my cough has returned, and for the past two days, I have been little more than a blob. It could be the drastically falling temperatures, or it could be anything. I hate so much to be sick while Corey is home because it seems like such a waste of our measured time together. Having said that, there is little than I can do when my body rebels.

Ferdynand Ruszczyc  Młyn w zimie  1902
“Młyn w zimie (Mill in Winter)” (1902, oil on canvas)
by Ferdynand Ruszczyc

The Botox injections that I was supposed to get earlier in the week did not happen, and I cannot say that I am surprised. Yet another glitch on the provider’s end, and now to complicate matters, since it is the new year, my old insurance with my former employer is going away, and Corey’s insurance is now my primary, at least until my Medicare kicks in in conjunction with my SS disability.

It’s all just to much folderol. The nurse at my pain management practice has been working tirelessly since October to get my Botox approved, and now she has to start all over with a new insurance. I feel terrible about putting her through this, but I am also less than happy with my former insurance as I paid for that Botox already, and they are not sending it.

Of course, the ensuing migraine was predictable . . .

“Words or wax, no end
to our self-shaping, our forlorn
awareness at the end of which
is only more awareness.
Was ever truth so malleable?
Arid, inadhesive bits of matter.” ~ C. K. Williams, from “Lost Wax”

So it is January 10, ten days into the new year, and I already find myself in that time loop in which I seem to exist most of the time. Ever since my mother’s death last January, all of 2014 was a blur, and I never quite knew what day it was, let alone what month. And then finishing the year with a truly brutal bout of bronchitis left me floundering so much that I now find myself in the second week of January, and I have yet to write 2015 on anything.

Ferdynand Ruszczyc Pejzaż ze stogami Ok 1897 oil on canvas
“Pejzaż ze stogami Ok (Landscape with Stacks)” (1897, oil on canvas)
by Ferdynand Ruszczyc

I did get many, many trigger point injections in lieu of the Botox, and I was left with lumps in weird places where the muscles had seized. The best thing for it, though, is a hot bath, which, in my view, is one of the best things for just about anything that ails one.

So each night, I force my body into a bath as hot as I can bear, and then I soak until the water begins to cool. It’s that whole affinity for water that Aquarians have. It has always been there. I have pleasant memories of soaking in the tub in my mother’s house while my friend Sarah sat and talked to me. It never struck me as a strange way to have a conversation.

Have no idea where that memory came from.

“I can remember looking at the stars in the summertime, for instance, and feeling a tremendous sorrow from simply knowing that they are not permanent; the stars can blow up, can crumple, go away. And somehow that idea of the end of things, the changeability of things entered my mind, and my psyche, and my imagination at a very early stage. It was connected with a kind of universal sorrow that I perceived in nature everywhere, and in human nature everywhere.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from “In That Great River,” trans. Clare Cavanagh

Last night I dreamed of the department store and doing massive markdowns, the bane of any manager’s existence in retail, and one of the other managers with whom I had a shaky relationship at best kept showing up in the dream, making the whole sequence yet another painful reminder of another close chapter in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to reopen that particular chapter of my life as the entire thing was a pure accident in the first place.

Ferdynand Ruszczyc Most zimą most winter 1901 oil on canvas
“Most zimą (Most Winter) (1901, oil on canvas)
by Ferdynand RUszczyc

Alexis was out of school with a very bad case of mono and a secondary virus, and once she went back to school, I decided to pick up an interim job until I could find something in my field. So I applied at the new big mall downtown, and landed a retail job, something I never wanted. Anyway, I ended up overstaying my time there, and the entire situation became riddled with bad memories, with the sole good thing to arise from that period being finding Corey.

Looking at it philosophically, I suppose that was the whole reason I was there as had I never accepted the position, we would never have crossed paths, and that, in my estimation, would have been tragic.

“Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals,
of things half given away, half withheld,
of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act
that way, I tell you.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “Two English Poems”

So we have spent our fourteenth Christmas together. The first one we spent in Ohio, and boy was that a scary proposition—meeting his family, in particular, his father, who I was quite certain would not like me at all. I remember just about every aspect of that visit, but what stands out in my memory the most, and you’ll pardon me if this sounds strange, is New Year’s Eve, which Corey and I spent in his brother’s hot tub.

Ferdynand Ruszczyc Krzyż w śniegu 1902
“Krzyż w śniegu (The Cross in the Snow)” (1902, oil on canvas)
by Ferdynand Ruszczyc

The air was cold, and the water was hot, and it was a lovely night, and ever since, I have yearned to have a hot tub that we could sit in and look at the night sky together. Perhaps one day if we do finally make it to the mountains and build our house. I can hope . . .

Anyway, our years together have ebbed and flowed as with any relationship, yet I still adore the man I married, still have a strong desire to have him all to myself when he is home for his three weeks, and I suppose that’s a good thing, albeit selfish, yet my feelings have only strengthened through the years, and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of just how much time has actually passed.

I’m not exactly certain how I ended up on this tangent. Perhaps it’s that whole memory time loop thing I was trying to describe in the first section.

“With the silky hands of longing you tame distance as you make borrowed stars the roof of your sky . . . .” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from “In the Presence of Absence,” trans. Sinan Antoon

So anyway, I’m hoping that since I feel better today that I am not relapsing. Would that I could get back to some kind of rhythm with this blog and with my tumblr and not least of which, with writing poems again.

I haven’t had any words come to me in several weeks, and that is quite disheartening as I was so beginning to enjoy the creative spurts that have eluded me for years. With any luck, once I have kicked this illness-generated ennui, I might be able to make a foray into 2015 with a little more creativity.

Ferdynand Ruszczyc Młyn zimą 1897
“Młyn zimą (Mill in Winter) (1897, oil on canvas)
by FerdynandRuszczyc

Wishing and hoping . . . wasn’t that a song?

So Corey leave on Monday, a day earlier than usual because he came home a day early because of Christmas. I’ll have to try to get back into some kind of routine in helping out with Olivia and helping out with ferrying Em to campus and just generally muddling through the next 21 days. It’s not as if there aren’t hundreds of little things that need to be taken care of around here, not the last of which are taxes . . . insert audible groan here. Not even going to expound on that for now.

But chances are good that instead of taking care of things, I’ll spend at least half of my time immersed in more books and more binge-watching of the backlog on the cable DVR. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty about that because it’s what keeps me somewhat sane.

Here’s hoping your year has begun with more productivity than mine.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Polish painter and printmaker Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870–1936), because, well, snow. It should snow . . .

Music by Mecca Kalani, “Feel Me”

                   

Snowshoe to Otter Creek

love lasts by not lasting
~ Jack Gilbert

I’m mapping this new year’s vanishings:
lover, yellow house, the knowledge of surfaces.
This is not a story of return.
There are times I wish I could erase
the mind’s lucidity, the difficulty of Sundays,
my fervor to be touched
by a woman two Februarys gone. What brings the body
back, grieved and cloven, tromping these woods
with nothing to confide in? New snow reassumes
the circleting trees, the bridge above the creek
where I stand like a stranger to my life.
There is no single moment of loss, there is
an amassing. The disbeliever sleeps at an angle
in the bed. The orchard is a graveyard.
Is this the real end? Someone shoveling her way out
with cold intention? Someone naming her missing?

~ Stacie Cassarino

 

“Time has frozen. It sits on me, choking me.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from Memory for Forgetfulness

Balthus Window, Cour de Rohan 1951 oil on canvas
“Window, Cour de Rohan” (1951, oil on canvas)
by Balthus

“She was looking at the window. The words sounded as if they were floating like flowers on water out there, cut off from them all, as if no one had said them, but they had come into existence of themselves. She did not know what they meant, but, like music, the words seemed to be spoken by her own voice, outside herself, saying quite easily and naturally what had been in her mind while she said different things.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To The Lighthouse

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 41 degrees.

Pablo Picasso View of Riera de Sant Joan from the Window 1900 oil on wood
“View of Riera de Sant Joan from the Window” (1900, oil on wood)
by Pablo Picasso

I have spent most of the day on the computer, dabbling, as it were, and in between, another poem, another few lines. I am more grateful for this wellspring than I let on, too afraid of the day on which no words come, too afraid that that day will be the beginning of many more days, the beginning of years before more poems come again, if they come at all.

So I pretend on here that it’s really no big deal that I am again writing poems, downplay their appearance as mere happenstance. But you, dear reader, see through it all. Don’t you?

All the Silences I’ve Been Inclined To

“Story inclines to moment.
Moment inclines to silence.” ~ Source unknown

Within the steady beat of the metronome
lies the fiction of appearances:
real time is never so evenly spaced.
It moves slowly, like a rush hour freeway,
or skips entire days in a leap,
leaving Tuesday afternoon
only to move headlong into Friday night

Four-four time is a falsehood,
a myth about common time
based on countable seconds,
but I have yet to come upon
a single late afternoon
without struggling for air
somewhere around 2 pm.

And though I might contemplate
the silences of the minutes
between midnight and dawn,
I don’t think I’ll ever really understand
how so much nothingness
can claim us abruptly
like New Year’s eve fireworks
ablaze too soon.

L. Liwag
November 15, 2014

                   

Music by Rosi Golan, “Everything is Brilliant”

“I will go down with my colours flying.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry

Sunday evening. Sunny and autumnal, 63 degrees.

I’ve been saving this series of photographs for the perfect fall afternoon. It’s finally here. Enjoy the following beautiful images by Kacper Kowalski. For more of Kowalski’s incredible work, including his series Polish Autumn, click here.

By the way, I did not go through (since I am reblogging as published) and move the periods and commas to within the final quotation mark as they should be, even though this is one of my major grammatical pet peeves. I have to admit, I thought about it though . . .

                   

Reblogged from The Guardian:

He shoots, he soars: Kacper Kowalski’s forest photographs – in pictures

Travel writer Robert Macfarlane responds to photographer Kacper Kowalski’s giddily beautiful aerial shots of Poland’s forests in autumn

Henry James called it “the figure in the carpet”: a pattern that is imperceptible when seen from close up, but startlingly visible from above. For a century and a half, aerial photography has been revealing such patterns in the landscape: from prehistoric earthworks and trackways to the intricate designs of motorway flyovers and suburban street plans. The elevated perspective – once the view only of “the hawk” and “the ­helmeted airman”, in WH Auden’s phrase of 1930 – has become increasingly ubiquitous in everyday life. Satellite mapping has made gods and birds of us all, swooping over virtual surfaces of the Earth, while abstract patterns issue and vanish with a slide of the zoom-bar.

Kacper Kowalski’s astonishingly beautiful ­photographs of the autumnal Polish woodland disclose the figures in the forest carpet. Seen from above, tree species whose greens blend together for much of the year are vividly distinguished by their different fall colours, the change of season acting as a chromatograph. In one image, an area of forestry has been replanted and the younger trees assume a Mondrian-like geometry: Aztec red and gold rectangles and rhomboids of green and mauve, separated by logging tracks. In another, a band of heath, flanked by chalky ploughed fields, resembles a Rothko in its blocks and stripes of colour, and in the deep, ­eye-absorbing purple of its heather.

Several of Kowalski’s most striking photographs practise exquisite deceptions of scale. A diamond-shaped island, set in a lake whose surface itself looks like the sky, might be a micro-terrain of mosses and lichens on a boulder. Reed-marsh cupped in the curves of a river has the intricately crinkled texture of chamois leather. The ­spreading grey canopies of beech trees closely resemble nano-scale imagery of human nerve endings. Indeed, our neurons possess “dendrites” (from the Greek word dendron, meaning “tree”) – the branching projections that conduct electrochemical stimulation from synapse to nerve cell, and that overlap to form what neuroscience memorably calls a “dendritic arbor”. The outer landscape has christened the inner.

Autumn leaf-turn expresses a death that is also a renewal. Through spring and summer, green chlorophyll is the dominant leaf pigment. But as day-length decreases and temperatures fall, chlorophyll production in the leaves is reduced, eventually to the point of extinction. As the ­chlorophyll content declines, other pigments begin to shine through: carotenoids – that flame-orange, yellow and gold – brown tannins and the rarer redder anthocyanins. The anthocyanins are produced by the action of sustained strong light upon the sugars that get trapped in leaves as the tree’s vascular system prepares for leaf-drop. In these ways, deciduous trees scorch themselves spectacularly back to their bare branches, in order to survive the winter and prepare for the resurg­ence of spring. It’s a process that still speaks to us – unseasonal though most of our lives now are – as we start to batten down for the cold to come.

British woodlands lack in number the real fire-starters of the North American forests: the maples, aspens and sumacs that set whole mountain ranges ablaze each autumn. The pleasures here tend to be subtler, and certainly smaller in scale.

In Cambridgeshire, where I live, the first trees to turn are the acers – the sycamores and field maples – that glow doubloon-yellow and then burn ember-red. The beeches, oaks and hornbeams take their colour later and hold their leaves longer: entering a beech hanger on a bright, mid-autumn day is like stepping into a light box. The sunlight assumes the hues of the leaves through which it passes, and so falls inside the wood as gold, green and bronze. When a frost is followed by a gale, spectacular leaf falls occur and vast leaf drifts build up, big enough for children to burrow into. I particularly like the brimstone yellow of the sweet chestnut, and the acid yellow of the larch (a deciduous conifer). Up in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire one November, I cycled through larch plantations after a frost-gale combination had knocked millions of needles from the trees. They lay in glowing reefs that seemed to possess a lustre rather than a colour.

The forest, seen from the elevation of Kowalski’s camera, becomes more artefact than ecosystem. Details are encrypted by altitude: is the winged shadow that falls in the blue lake that of a boat on its surface, a raptor flying overhead, or the photographer’s own aircraft? Are the silver shards that cluster the shoreline of the diamond-shaped island waterfowl or boulders? It doesn’t really matter: the viewer makes his or her own sense of the sight.

I suppose this is why I slightly distrust aerial photography. The images it offers us are often arrestingly beautiful, but this beauty is born of abstraction, distance and detachment. Seen from above, landscape tends to reduce to pure form, and our relationship with it to the purely aesthetic. I would much rather be tramping through an autumnal forest than flying over one. It’s for this reason that my favourite of Kowalski’s images is that of the dendritic beech wood. The trees are bare of their leaves, so we can see down to the footpath that slants across the frame. And just visible upon the track are a couple of walkers, out for a wander, making their own pattern in the copper carpet of leaves.


Music by Carina Round, “For Everything a Reason”