creative ramblings & reverie

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Writing Spaces



We're moving, in a week, and I'm trying to clear my writing space (above) to prepare for another.  Many treasures have surfaced, including letters from all eras of my life.  One of the hardest things to give up (other than the light itself, lying dappled late afternoons across my generous table, was the old Random House dictionary which I gave up this morning to Goodwill.  I wrote about it fondly several times before, in the following instance inspired by W.S. Merwin's poem:

Inheritance
At my elbow on the table
it lies open as it has done
for a good part of these thirty
years ever since my father died
and it passed into my hands
this Webster's New International
Dictionary of the English
Language of 1922
on India paper which I
was always forbidden to touch
for fear I would tear or somehow
damage its delicate pages
heavy in their binding
this color of wet sand
on which thin waves hover
when it was printed he was twenty-six
they had not been married four years
he was a country preacher
in a one-store town and I suppose
a man came to the door one day
peddling this new dictionary
on fine paper like the Bible
at an unrepeatable price
and it seemed it would represent
a distinction just to own it
confirming something about him
that he could not even name
now its cover is worn as though
it had been carried on journeys
across the mountains and deserts
of the earth but it has been here
beside me the whole time
what has frayed it like that
loosening it gnawing at it
all through these years
I know I must have used it
much more than he did but always
with care and indeed affection
turning the pages patiently
in search of meanings
—W.S. Merwin

Ever since my own father died I have had his dictionary too, not Webster but Random House.  He used to keep it laid open on the blue cupboard in his den, to consult while typing letters or a page or two of his novel on weekend mornings (coffee cup sometimes knocked off the typewriter stand by the carriage return, unloosing a great flurry of cussing), or wandering in with Scotch and cigarette and double crostic book in hand during some summer evening, barefoot, in one of his fish- or ship-printed shirts bought on the Kona Coast.  For years I kept that dictionary in my tiny kitchen in the apartment on Parma Way, under the window with the cheery painted Mexican parrot hung there to overlook whatever I was cooking.  Laid open too, always, the words left free to roam around (at random) and mingle with the childhood aromas of frying meat, oregano.

And another time, upon leaving another house that gave me space for writing.

My new writing space will be charmed in quite a different way, with views like these from its windows—



Will what I write be consequently different, with doves and evergreens instead of quails and oaks?  With sun in the morning, not afternoon?  With the ocean only a walk away?  Always in search of meanings, I will explore with interest and great hope.



images:  Christie B. Cochrell

Enchantment

I am happy to report the publication of my poem "Enchantment" by Red BirdChapbooks.

This poem feels to me like it holds the quintessence of our years living on Thendara Lane, so getting it published just now as we prepare to leave is perfect timing.  I realized earlier this week that I've been too busy to think about how sad I'm going to be about not being here anymore, however much I love our new house and its location.


—Christie

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Compassion

Somehow I'd imagined
compassion enough
to go around—thinking

it would be given readily
by all, tawny and full of light
like the sage honey
I found Friday for a friend

it would be worn next to the skin,
like the blue agate beads
strung for me by a Polish artist
in mountains across the world

it would accompany the needy,
shaggy and immense
like the Great Pyrenees we've met,
the service dog who attends
every local opera from Puccini
to The Pirates of Penzance.

Instead,
this pitiless wing shadow
that has been cast over us.

This staggering
absence and desecration

that I must nevertheless
take up and hold
against my raw-chafed skin,
gently as possibility,
as any broken thing.

—Christie


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reflection

I'm breathing lovingkindness
for the little junco, after
yesterday taking away her friend
or true love, better self, companion
of her heart, that other bird
so like and so seemingly responsive,
moving when she moved—
towards, away—exactly matched
and met each time again.  And yet
not responsive at all, strangely,
always silent and cold and not
downy, no tender mantra of feathers
but hard as truth can be,
in the reflective surface
of the shiny silver kettle I'd left out

last week unthinkingly in the backyard.

—Christie