Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Discarded Map Trying to Find Itself

One accepts, briefly, the music of Bethlehem. And dreams in which - while searching for lost mittens in the soft snow of late winter - one is advised (again) to write more.

"Have fun" is the lesson nobody taught me and which year after year I struggle to understand. On the other hand, there is a mirror ball in the living room, prisms and their lovely spectra in every room, and a bird feeder outside, at which - even now - one can only stare in a sort of puzzled amazement.

Fellow travelers, not followers. And yesterday - coming home late from teaching - I thought I heard the cry of the red-winged blackbird and something in me lifted - as it has since childhood - at the possibility my old friend and confidant had returned from warmer climes.

Of course I do not let children capture fireflies while of course I insist that they sit out with me some summer nights - lit up those loving green flares - and tell stories about fireflies. Movement in the kitchen recently is bent on simplicity and locality - does this ingredient naturally exist within a one hundred mile radius, say - and the effect is both challenging and delightful.

The dog sleeps curled in the shape of a button, while I twist and turn, like a discarded map trying to find itself. In last night's bedtime story - not the province of the very young in our home - the kids adopted pirate personas and their performance made me laugh despite my fatigue and the story - as stories do - went much longer - and in a different direction - than expected.

I told D. the other day that for me sex was going the way of cigarettes and he laughed and said where's your smoke gonna show now - poetry? It is important in reading Dickinson closely to understand that she was her own influence and that this reflects a useful strategy of composition.

Chrisoula points out - gently but with real clarity - that I am deeply sensitive and easily hurt, which complicates the essential relationship of forgiveness, and when I said "okay, but what am I supposed to do about it," she replied "stop being so sensitive" which produced one of the more fructive silences I've experienced in a long while. I was married in the Country of Turtles and it is still there that I know myself best.

Sri Aurobindo reminds me that "so long as we work only through the mentality governed by appearances, this something beyond and behind and yet always immanent can be only an inference or a presence vaguely felt." One feels then the need to let go of images - long a staple of the creative impulse - but trembles a little at such an apparently unretractable leap.

Look, says A., who is presently the teacher I find most annoying, in part because she is also the most insistent that I teach too, writers write. For breakfast later, pancakes soaked with warm maple syrup and apples sliced so thin you can read through them.

Thus the morning passes in a soft haze, squirrels leaping from pine bough to pine bough, and rabbits sneaking through snowed-in rose bushes. Everyone offers the man without shoes a pair of shoes but it was never shoes he was after.

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