Coming at an end, the lovers
Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where
Did it end? There is no telling. No love is
Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves’ boundaries
From which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbye
Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a length
Of coiled rope
Which does not disguise in the final twists of its lengths
But, you will say, we loved
And some parts of us loved
And the rest of us will remain
Two persons. Yes,
Poetry ends like a rope.
Coming at an end, the lovers
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry
Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
statistics, not calc.
skills, not grades; life, not college
things I wish I'd known
( diary stuff )
Thank you to everybody who was friendly and comforting this week, it really does mean a lot, and I'm feeling extremely blessed to know you all. I still have a lot of things I need to deal with, both workwise and in terms of selling my house here and hopefully buying another one in Cambridge. But basically I'll be ok, and at least I don't have all that on my to-do list plus Passover prep.
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
- Bob Hicok
I will go to Belfast, Maine, and read my poetry to crabs.
I’ll stand on a platform of some kind in the company of wind
and look at pennants waving and think of the claws
of crabs waving in the wind of the Atlantic and be sad.
It’s not that I don’t have enough sadness, but I’m always looking
for better, more aquatic or tastier sadness, for the kind
of light that comes when the sky tilts its head at dusk
and wonders, in colors we understand as language, why this all
has to end. I could doff a Bogart hat and wag a tough cigarette
between my lips, smoke muscling up from my mouth as I say, it just does,
sweetheart, it just does, but the psychology of the fedora
escapes me. There’s bread and calisthenics and lice and radar
and jars of blue stuff in stores, and maybe what I’m doing
when I cry to certain songs at seventy miles an hour, is proving
I’ve noticed that out of the nothing that could be here,
everything is. So I will go to Belfast, Maine, and wonder
what it’s like to stand beside Main Street in the winter,
I’ll put my head against the brick buildings I’m betting
live there year-round and describe the tropics to them
by having warm thoughts, and if you’d like to meet me there,
I’ll be the man in the t-shirt that has an extra sleeve
in case the third arm I need shows up, because so far,
I’ve dropped almost everything I’m desperate to hold.
I know that's broken logic, but that's how it feels, right now, deep down inside. I am glad to have language for it, though, & will seek to do some patching. It's a way that I feel out of touch with my age cohort, because I keep finding emotional resonance in the words of older divorcees leaving long-term marriages that few of my friends have had the time to build as of yet.
I do wonder where I picked this stuff up in the first place.
There's a weird balance between liberalism and conservatism in being an outsider, I think; I couldn't have been brought up with more radical politics, and certainly in the eyes of Christian Patriarchalists I have been the worst of sinners, but in other ways I recognize the defensive snobbery of the girl-child who wants to believe that she's better than the other girls because she's industrious and family-oriented instead of crass or materialistic, and I'm not sure it mattered that much that my parents were anti-capitalist intellectuals instead of religious fundamentalists, not in the virtuous outsider social psychology of that sort of thing.
But it's awkward, because I still also do often think that the family ways I was raised to ARE Best, really & truly, and I want to be loyal to them.
Relatedly (?), I guess my Mormon childhood bff and intermittent crush object is also moving back up north. I have ... complex? ... feelings about this.
Also asked about Chinese. Only one Chinese course available online, which won't get me the second-year language proficiency my degree needs.
How hard to learn is German? What about Arabic or Hebrew? I could also French or Italian, or probably Russian, but dammit there are reasons I want Spanish or Mandarin.
When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can’t say I’m completely shocked,
having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not
exceptional. The particulars of
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large,
memory gnawing it like
a fat dog, are ordinary: Mean Miss
Smigelsky from the sixth grade;
the orthodontist who
slapped you for crying out. Children
frighten us, other people’s and
our own. They reflect
the virused figures in which failure
began. We feel accosted by their
vulnerable natures. Each child turns
into a problematic ocean, a mirrored
body growing denser and more
difficult to navigate until
sunlight merely bounces
off the surface. They become impossible
to sound. Like us, but even weaker.
I have also been absorbed by the re-watch of ER that The Mother and I have started. We decided to do this aaaaaaages ago, and I put the first season on my Lovefilm list, and then got sent ninety things that were not ER. But! The first disc of the first season finally arrived (and it's double-sided which is not something I have ever encountered before) so we've been carving out pieces of time to sit down and watch it. The plan nearly hit a fatal problem when we decided to watch the pilot episode. WHICH IS AN HOUR AND A HALF LONG. It also means we've been playing excessive amounts of "what happened to that person?", a game which is much easier now that smartphones are a thing. Did you know that Eriq La Salle published a novel? No, nor did we.
What Are You Reading (Actually On A!) Wednesday:
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?
War and Peace. Currently we're at war. Points of note: there's a big problem with boot supplies, money gets stolen, people make plans to assault nuns. I haven't actually read much of War and Peace because I've been very busy with the other book I'm currently reading. Which is,
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which is absolutely phenomenal. I have about fifty pages left and I am torn between wanting to read them Right Now and not wanting to read them at all because then the book will be finished and that will be sad.
What did you recently finish reading?
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones. I don't have much to add to what I wrote last week about this. It is very strangely paced at times, the conclusion is less satisfying than it could be, and I do not care about any of that because I still love this book a phenomenal amount.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Well, there is a lot more of War and Peace left. Also I got Pandemonium: The Rite of Spring, which is a collection of short stories centred around 1913, the other day. And NetGalley just approved my request for Patience Agbabi's Telling Tales, which is a 21st century remix of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
To Be (To Dream To Be)
every ear and whisker says
my body is ready
o birds, you do not know
the foe beyond
the air you cannot pass
( the taut spacing of her midnight hair /betrays the singing of her legs )
I don't fall in love
I leap — like faith, unknown if
loved one leaps for me
(after Antonio Machado)
- Jamie McKendrick
To plumb the depths of hell and meet
ministers, saladins and scholars,
Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra,
the latter naked as the day they died;
to give audience where you please
and where you don't to curl your lip
or deftly rabbit-punch a kidney
sure that your arm is power-assisted.
To be steered about by someone who just
happens to be Virgil, and you like his poems.
To write as a chisel writes on rock
so every phrase you write resounds forever:
ABANDON ALL HOPE ... You first.
No really I insist please after you.
(From 101 Sonnets: From Shakespeare to Heaney, edited by Don Paterson, Faber & Faber, 2002)