Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sunday 16 July 2006

I set aside time this morning to search for the bells I heard last Sunday. Pastor Willweber greeted me at doors of Zion Lutheran. "Not bells," he said, "Schulmerich tapes." Not bells? No bell tower? No bell ringer? Just a metal box into which cassette tapes are fed, set to play the next 4 songs, twice a day. Nostalgia.

But the hymns do change with the seasons. There are a dozen tapes. We are in the 6th Sunday of Pentecost, the pastor says. Pastor Willweber. Pastor will web. Past her will, web...

In this morning's program, a holy gospel, a story of belief and miracles, from St. Mark. A little girl raised from the dead. It begins with Jesus in a boat, crossing (a river) to the other side. Small acts become mythic. "Talitha cumi." "Little girl, I say to you, rise."

Tarkovsky says this too. Awake. And Dylan Thomas. "Awake my sleepers to the sun." And Nazim Hikmet. "Living is the most real,/the most beautiful thing." "You have to feel this sorrow now--/for the world must be loved this much / if you're going to say 'I lived'…" And Robert Bridges. "Awake, O heart, to be love, awake, awake."

At the back of the program, a short history of the church, which traces its roots to the Alsace region of northeastern France. And then information on a radio broadcast, "Lonely No More," which deals with homelessness, focusing on those who have no spiritual home. Nostalgia.

Tarkovsky suggests regaining that home through suffering. If you can slow time, by which I mean ride instead of drive, walk instead of ride, sketch instead of look and discourse on what you imitate – as the hours turn to minutes, as you become a part of what surrounds you, as you become an object in relation to the objects in your world, you will see new relationships form, along with a new perspective and a new vocabulary.

I sat down at 8:58am at my desk at Green Lake, having walked from Lower Queen Anne, along Aurora. The pastries at Caffe Vita had just been delivered and so I turned up Ward to Aurora nibbling a croissant, and through the long shadows and sun rectangles I walked past fruiting blackberry bushes and morning glory graveyards, their white stars falling over firs and rocks.

Then 3000 feet, south to north, over the Aurora Bridge, peering over the sides to where our waterways and homes and roads humble and, further on, I saw again the way in which we are distinct. Brown clapboard church, barn-like, with block letters, on the hill. No chain link on the bridge, to keep me in. Gutters full of pine cones. Rough concrete rails, tapering and crowned. Overpasses, underpasses, and up along hotel strip to the park, my glen, my place on the path.

And there was James at the intersection, the quiet serious boy with whom you cannot gain eye contact. He seemed, like before, on a fruitless search for self, resigned to a state of nothingness, but without peace.

I sit now in the sun, 30 feet from the path, 40 feet from the lake, at my little oak desk (34" x 20" and 3 feet high), surrounded by young tulip trees, one to each side and one behind. They stand only 18 feet tall, but their floppy leaves are 7 inches across. The 25 firs northeast of my desk make a Sherwood Forest. In the shade there, a wooden bench, for contemplating the path and marking a standstill.

The metaphor man came by with a gift for me. He gave me the image of a man like a kite, tied to a string, capricious yet tethered. "That's a scene from the Fellini film 8 ½." Bill read one of my poems to Morton, pleased at its eroticism. A couple of old men traipsing about the lake looking at the pretty things. Before leaving, Bill recited a line from Hopkins, "GLORY be to God for dappled things—" And what is wrong with that?

Michael and Kate Lyn and their dog Lolita came by. Michael is a writer. Fiction and poetry. He has just started to submit. And for his efforts, he has received seven rejections. That's not enough, I say. Not enough.

Adam and Keith, joggers, took time from their run. "How do you suggest someone put poetry in their life?" I went on about poetry books and readings, talked about keeping a journal, even offered up my poetry list. I should have said, "Do everything you're doing, only slower, sit for a moment with one thought, eat bread with your hands, go up to your roof, talk to a horse, memorize a flower…" I am not as awake as I could be, should be. I must work on this.

And then Ron stopped by, "I have no interest in poetry." Then he confessed, sometimes, when he hears the lyrics to a song, he is moved. I gave him a Roque Dalton poem, "Como Tu." "Like You." I tried to explain the limits of poetry. Poetry has left so many behind. Music, visual arts, film – for these you have vocabulary. For poetry you do not. I want this to change.

Some of them come needing to be acknowledged. Some acknowledge me. The threshold. The desk. The sign. Pulling people from their path.

12:43pm Ah, the bells. They rang their happy tune for 15 minutes.

Lynn approached me with a dollar in hand. I gave her a flyer, offered her some of my publications for review. But she was in a hurry. I have nothing here for sale.

How to understand this tied-up path? This circuit? This ring? The pattern of the human fingerprint?

There are others who practice the loop migration. The American golden plover, for instance, travels 8000 miles from Northeastern Canada to South America and back again via the Mississippi Valley. Some sandpipers and warblers too travel in loops. Shearwaters and Shrikes. Great migratory loops. Because of winds. Because of food supplies. Because the world is round.

"We're going to do a donut around the lake," Steve says. Completing tasks. Closing rings. Containing things. A lake bound by grass. A path we can walk around. A measure of time. A vortex. Our center, this lake.

Medhi the painter stopped by. He was excited about my just being there, in view, connecting with the public. "Where are all the artists?" he wants to know. Then asked, "Did my wife stop by?" "No no." He called her on his cell phone. "You must come back and meet Mimi." "My wife is a poet. She needs camaraderie." "She needs community," I said. "I paint. I've come to do a painting. We live in California." "Carele, come meet Mimi."

He overheard me wishing Lauren safe travels in Paris. "You must go on the road to Bordeaux, you pass by all the great chateaus! And Saorge! You can't get that smell, that taste of grape here. O!" From the top of the medieval village of Saorge, I read, no less than five bell towers float up from a sea of red tile roofs. Real bells in bell towers with bell ringers too.

Here I sit in my theatre of tulip trees, in a merry glen beside a wood, protected or no from the terrible Bosche, who may at any time come down from the hinterlands. But here I will stay, in my merry glen, reading the day.


Anonymous ashok said...

What an absolutely wonderful idea! I can see you sitting there in your theatre of tulip trees.


How romantic it must be to live your life for poetry. Please keep sitting, writing and reminding us of the many ways in which we could, all of us, bring back the lyrical into our ordinary, or not so ordinary, lives.

You give me hope as I sit at my desk in the midst of a noisy and pre-occupied city.

Much love and power to you Mimi!
ashok panikkar

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No wonder,
Any maverick will be mesmerized by your words.
Hat off to you, Mimi.


12:42 AM  
Blogger tornadofish said...

It's a pleasure to be there with you, I'll stay and I'll watch the world with your eyes.

10:45 AM  

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