Posted on: Friday, April 29, 2011
And I take her hand and force her little feet to keep a quicker pace, even as she's trying to hand me the Queen Anne's Lace she's pulled from the side of the trail. It's probably the fourth bit of Queen Anne's Lace she's given me since the walk started, and I surreptitiously drop it behind me. She's oblivious. "I've got plenty of flowers," I tell her, gently. "Let's maybe not got any more flowers."
She stops tugging on a weed dotted with tiny purple blooms and almost immediately starts to cry. "I want to give you beautiful flowers!" she exclaims.
Ahead of us, Madeleine is tearing down the trail, her dad following shortly behind her. "Say hello to the daddy tree," Mad shouts. Wayland says hi. "Hello, Wayland," she intones deeply, in the voice of the tree. "Say hello to the Mama tree," she says. He says hello. "Hello, Wayland," she says in the high pitched voice of the mama tree. And then she shouts: "MAMA! VIOLET! COME SAY HELLO TO THE TREE!"
I look down at Violet, all teary and again tugging stubbornly at the purple blooms. She hands one to me. "Violet, we don't have enough time for this," I'm saying, even as I stuff the bloom into my pocket with all the other things we've collected along the way.
Then I think of how often I've said this to her, my little girl who likes to take things at a slower, easier pace. Who notices every little thing and finds all things beautiful. Every single thing she sees. Why am I trying to rush her? I crouch down in front of her and make her look at me. "Thank you, Violet," I tell her, and give her a hug. "I love all these beautiful things you give me."
I stand up and shout to Mad, "We're coming!"
And smile down at Violet. "Ready?" I ask, and resolve to let her lead. Because we'll get there. The trees aren't going anywhere -- they'll receive our greetings eventually, because they have to. And we really do have all the time in the world.
Posted on: Friday, April 15, 2011
Morning (Love Sonnet XXVII)
Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
You've moon-lines, apple pathways
Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.
Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
You've vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.
Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
Curved, subtle rosy, till the day is born
And you withdraw to the underground world.
As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores;
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.
Posted on: Thursday, April 14, 2011
A smile fell in the grass.
And how will your night dances
Lose themselves. In mathematics?
Such pure leaps and spirals ----
Surely they travel
The world forever, I shall not entirely
Sit emptied of beauties, the gift
Of your small breath, the drenched grass
Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies.
Their flesh bears no relation.
Cold folds of ego, the calla,
And the tiger, embellishing itself ----
Spots, and a spread of hot petals.
Have such a space to cross,
Such coldness, forgetfulness.
So your gestures flake off ----
Warm and human, then their pink light
Bleeding and peeling
Through the black amnesias of heaven.
Why am I given
These lamps, these planets
Falling like blessings, like flakes
Six sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair
Touching and melting.
Posted on: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
doesn't it? don't the trees, thick with green,
drip deep shade on the sidewalk?
and the tanned girl passes with the scent
of coconut lotion. and the birds are singing;
of course they are. red marbled throats
swelling with song. these primrose patches,
purple and rampant, aren't exactly a surprise,
are they? they are meant for this green, for
buckeye butterflies and a drifting monarch
and small hands searching for ladybugs.
there is a promise here, a song for this,
a sound that circles your skin again and again,
a thousand bands of light and heat.
you are bound to this, thankfully, gratefully,
and here is the promise: mama, look what i found!
just look at what we've found here.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I'm typing this from memory.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
their flag to April's breeze unfurled
here once the embattled farmers stood
and fired the shot heard 'round the world
the foe long since in silence slept
alike the conqueror silence sleeps
and time the ruined bridge has swept
down the dark stream which seaward creeps
on this green bank by this soft stream
we set today a votive stone
that memory may their deeds redeem
that when, like our sires, our sons are gone
spirit that made those heroes dare to die
and leave their children free
bid time and nature gently spare
the shaft we raise to them and thee
(I'm sure the line breaks are good, or mostly good, but punctuation and capitalization I'm sure are not. Ah well. Shasta, I bet you could do this, too.)
Posted on: Monday, April 11, 2011
Song of Myself
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
Read the whole thing here.
Posted on: Sunday, April 10, 2011
Jennifer K. Sweeney
Naiveté that your hands will undo
what does perfectly without you.
My husband and I made the decision
not to stop until the task was done,
the small anemic tree made room
for something prettier.
We’d pulled before, pale hand over wide hand,
a marriage of pulling toward us what we wanted,
pushing away what we did not.
We had a shovel which was mostly for show.
It was mostly our fingers tunneling the dirt
toward a tangle of false beginnings.
The roots were branched and bearded,
some had spurs
and one of them was wholly reptilian.
They had been where we had not
and held a knit gravity
that was not in their will to let go.
We bent the trunk to the ground and sat on it,
twisted from all angles.
How like ropes it was,
the sickly thing asserting its will
only now at the end,
blind but beyond
the idea of leaving the earth.
Posted on: Saturday, April 9, 2011
The great poems of
our elders in many
tongues we struggled
to comprehend who
are now content with
and profound you
in the night your
breath your body
orbit of time and
the moment you
Hesper a dark circle
of fertility so
bloodthirsty for us
you in the world
the night breathing
asleep and alive.
Posted on: Friday, April 8, 2011
The next time someone argues with you
at the post office
all twisted up in the eyebrows
or at the grocery store
or anywhere strangers like to argue with other strangers
instead of arguing
you should sing them the first few lines of “Happy Birthday.”
This already will be enough
to confuse just about anyone
and also make you feel good inside
because singing songs in public places is fun
and something we should do more of as adults.
Then if you want
you can say something like
“C’mon everybody, it’s my best friend’s birthday
let’s show him some love!”
Of course everyone around you
will be obligated to join in at this point
which will give you
just enough time to slip away
from arguing about something so small
and back to more important business
like trying to track down a meteorite
and make it into a dreamcatcher.
Posted on: Thursday, April 7, 2011
worried homes have walls/they absorb old phone calls/they spit warm laundry smoke to the cold backyard/but to be a father/I must take my life and solder all my neighborhoods of night to you
we tied our ribbons to the fire escape/they were taken by the birds/who flew home to the country as/the bombs rained on the world
my mind is filled with silvery stars/honey kisses clouds of love/shoulders shrugging off/cheer up/honey I hope you can/there is something wrong with me/my mind is filled with radio cures/electronic surgical words
one brash phrase could crush this fragile day/as my thoughts swirl in some shrill sad cannonade/and one such spur that caused my throat to creak/the one dull dawn I'm sentenced to repeat
the last time we saw you/you looked so much older/your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder/you'd been to the station to meet every train then/you came home without lili marlene
Posted on: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Summer Night, Riverside
In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
While your kisses and the flowers,
Tangled in my hair....
The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.
And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.
To-night what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year's blossoms, clinging to its coils?
Posted on: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted on: Monday, April 4, 2011
Until she reached a precipice -- things are decided
You had a laughter of grapes:
many round green laughs.
Your body is full of lizards.
All of them love the sun.
Flowers grew in the field, grass grew on my cheeks,
everything was possible.
Posted on: Sunday, April 3, 2011
Such beauty, you say
Let us stop & admire
A moment, a day
The fields & the fire
God the great spider
Has caught you again.
Posted on: Saturday, April 2, 2011
The light has changed;
middle C is tuned darker now.
And the songs of morning sound over-rehearsed. –
This is the light of autumn, not the light of spring.
The light of autumn: you will not be spared.
The songs have changed; the unspeakable
has entered them.
This is the light of autumn, not the light that says
I am reborn.
Not the spring dawn: I strained, I suffered, I was delivered.
This is the present, an allegory of waste.
So much has changed. And still, you are fortunate:
the ideal burns in you like a fever.
Or not like a fever, like a second heart.
The songs have changed, but really they are still quite beautiful.
They have been concentrated in a smaller space, the space of the mind.
They are dark, now, with desolation and anguish.
And yet the notes recur. They hover oddly
in anticipation of silence.
The ear gets used to them.
The eye gets used to disappearances.
You will not be spared, nor will what you love be spared.
A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity.
How privileged you are, to be passionately
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.
This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.
Definitely go read the whole thing here.
Posted on: Friday, April 1, 2011
When I was pregnant with Madeleine, I was sick constantly. That's kind of an understatement: I'd vomit something like 13 times before lunch, horking bile and weeping every single morning, shaky and tired. I'd force myself to eat a little, sip water, eat a little more, sip water. Sometimes I'd achieve a delicate balance enough to eat a decent lunch, only to throw it up again a little while later. Basically my goal was to always have something in my stomach, something mild and unassuming, so it didn't hurt when it came back up later. The addition of Zofran helped a lot, so I could at least FUNCTION, but I'd still vomit several times in the morning, once or twice in the afternoon.
Music is so tied into this period for me, and there are certain songs I can't listen to without thinking of that time - one is "Overcome" by Better Than Ezra. "Before the Robots" came out the day I found out I was pregnant with her and I hated that album so much. The one song that grabbed me was "Overcome" - and the lyrics, "I feel strange/I feel changed/Overcome/Overcome by you." How weirdly prescient this song was -- I would find out I was pregnant just five hours later that day and I never felt more strange then, and later, so so so so sick, definitely overcome by the little girl growing inside of me. Kind of literally.
Another one is "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" by Stars (pulled over in a parking lot on the way home from work on the hot, hot summer, throwing up into a plastic shopping bag).
Anything by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - that first album of theirs was out around that time, and I really liked it then, but now something about the music and that guy's voice are so tied into that constant nausea that I can't even listen to it now without feeling a little sick. It's too bad, because "Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" is a really good song.
And finally: "Company in My Back" by Wilco - Something about that steady rhythm was so lulling, so comforting and calming. Soothing. Wayland knew it had that effect on me, and one day I came home from work at lunch to find the song playing on a loop through the house because he knew I'd be throwing up at some point while I was there. And I did. And that steady, easy rhythm helped me pull it together as I rested my head on my arm, braced on the toilet seat, wiping tears from my eyes and taking slow breaths to get myself ready to go back to work.
Though unlikely, it is possible that someone
might try to speak to you, say tree
and mean your tree, the willow, the day
you hid under its pale skirt as adult voices
shook all the window panes in the house.
Say cat and mean the Manx that belonged
to the first woman you loved, the August evenings
on an apartment fire escape. Or perhaps
someone would whisper time and mean
your mother's gold wristwatch, its crystal
cloudy from wear, the perfume around her:
kid gloves, cigarettes, the tangerine peels
on the front seat of her green Oldsmobile.