Sunday 14 January 2007
My first visitor came while I was assembling critters, the critters Oliver taught me to make last week. I've made 30 already this morning, six stripped pinecone cores wedged under the scales of a fat pinecone. I call them "Olivitters." I scattered them through my meadow, in pairs, on their own. They look like donkey ears, little cloves, hooves, water bugs with an air of prehistory. Crouching frogs.
RAT, O RAT
I shared the work of British poet Christopher Logue with Barrett, my first visitor today. Barrett is from Yakima. He is a short story writer and a lover of poetry. He read silently the poems I gave him, "Rat, O Rat" and an untitled piece by Logue on the subject of three blind men. "They find a table near the door./They telescope their sticks and wait."
We talked about a writer's need for community and solitude, the need to maintain a unique but connected mind. It is not just land they mean to mark. It is the human mind. Take special care of the mind.
Can we benefit from the breadth of opinions and ideologies we meet? How do we suffer from our inability to compromise, absorb, dialogue, concede? How do we suffer and gain from our theology?
MENDING A WALL
Barrett threw Robert Frost on the table. There, take that. "Mending a Wall." "The gaps I mean,/No one has seen them made or heard them made." It must have been a silent eruption then. Can the gaps Robert Frost is speaking of be poetry? Can the wall itself be language? "We keep the wall between us as we go." Must the barrier be long? Can a 2-foot length not divide as well? Divide artist from audience? "He is all pine and I am apple orchard./My apple trees will never get across." This is our fear, excommunication, isolation, being terminally misunderstood. Our fear and our concern. That the apples will in fact get across. And, at the same time, that they will not. Both have their obligations. This is where we spend our time. Where we lie in wait. "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.”
I read "Snowy Morning" by Henry Shukman to my visitors. "This is a day that decides all by itself to be beautiful." Bev and many others I talked to came to the lake to experience this morning, the ice bristles marching down the blades of grass by the fence posts, the white thorns radiating from the tree branches, the snow dust, the morning dew turned to confection in the grass. "Now, under the shag of decades, after so much/contact with things, it takes a morning like this."
The crow pulls his voice where he goes. The smoky morning becomes a frozen fog through which the sun, like a full moon, gradually shows. Bev and the others have come to watch the light rise in the southern sky, to transform the fog to a bow of crystals, lift and shimmer in the light. And then pour out, blue and light, catching like glass the tangled grass on the surface. No wind on the lake. Half dark, half lit, from where I lean on my desk. The sun, through my hair, warms my scalp. I forgot my hat, have thin dress socks under my slip-on shoes. I spent the night on a friend's couch, went to bed at 1:30am, woke quite early to select today's poems, to print a packet to share with Green Lake and then wandered around over the diamond crusted purse of the morning.
Bev turns to the thawing fog, I to my screen. We search for the light in poems, in natural things. We look around for a verse capable of clearing the prose away. Something worth seeing, worth stopping over and blessing. The prayers of this world. I have finally put some paper into a plastic folder and put that under my feet to help insulate me. The cold is making stones of my feet.
So many warm feet on the path now that the sun is out. Now that the Sea Hawks have finished their game. This strange and quiet morning has given way. The path is again moving. It is noon. The thorns have fallen from the trees.
Begin in increments. "Vingt lignes par jour, génie ou pas." Twenty lines a day, genius or no, he says. Twenty lines. Let us begin.
It is To the Happy Few that Stendahl dedicates his work. To the happy few who understand him. The happy few who were born into privilege. The happy few who live without fear or hatred. The happy few, I might add, who...
- live in the rite
- walk a deliberate path
- wander with their eyes open
- with swaddled hearts
Vishnu, Master of the Universe, sent garudas today. In Hindu and Buddhist myth, garuda is an eagle. "It is said that when a garuda's wings flap, they create hurricane-like winds that darken the sky and blow down houses" [Wikipedia]. The garudas work as a team, swooping an attack over the splashes and swirls in the lake. A coot dives in to save itself.
A congress of red robins scourged my meadow today. These are the first robins I've seen since my project began in July of 2006.
Mylinda, Scott and Beckett save the day with a thermos full of tea.
Larry and Barbara save the day with Almond Roca.
Eight Russian students save the day with a question, "What is your project?"
The robins are back.
ENTRE CHIEN ET LOUP
I read to my visitors Mark Ford's "Inside."
"There are wheels within wheels, he yelled
At the wall, and within those wheels
Are tiny images, untitled books,"
[from "Inside by Mark Ford]
Ford plumbs the mystery for meaning. What lies between night and day, he asks? What lies between the visible and the hidden? Between knowledge and mystery? Ford proposes we look into that hour, the hour of the setting sun, between dusk and dark, when it becomes impossible to distinguish between a dog and a wolf, entre chien et loup. Hour of wonder and dread. Is Ford's mystery, the mystery Yannis Ritsos? Not a pointe vierge, not a distinct moment or an instance of perfection, fleeting and potent, but a drawn-out frame, an indefinite and irresolvable stretch of time that loses its lines, meaning and consequences, and because of a lack of perspective, gains new power to mean, form and associate both superficially and dimensionally.
"Squinting sun, another set of assumptions to watch quiver
[from "Inside by Mark Ford]
ON PAINTING AT DUSK
It is the close of day. There is just enough light angling over Phinney Ridge to dapple Sherwood in a glaze of medium. The sun sets, this time of year, over the scotch pine to my right. The willow, at this hour, dips its fingertips in bronze. The branches that scoop down low to the lake catch the holiday light, brassy, in their palms.