Saturday, March 30, 2013
Into the long soon-April grasses
have been slipped the eggs dyed
the exact blue of the sea off Portugal
glazed with imported Lapis Lazuli
ground to a fine powder like Raphael
used for his Madonna’s chaste drapery
and others with a wash of yellow
light as lemon polish on tawny old wood,
beeswax humming with thyme and sun
those fields where the bees swarmed
a few the blushing terra cotta
of old Tuscan walls, or apricots
from that tree in my childhood yard,
made into jam by my mother’s
Norwegian friend Annika and her
daughter, a student of geology,
the jam we’d put on good
Vermont ice-cream and eat out of
paper-thin bowls, Roslyn bone china
back in the Bay Area with writer friends.
Even in her last years, Duet the Black Lab
would have quickly nosed them out,
or the neighborhood kids tugging like kites
at parents’ hands
after an hour’s church and breakfast
potatoes roasted with rosemary;
but we are just as apt to leave them
lie, safe in their grassy nest, instead
of coaxing up with clumsy hands
the delicately colored shells,
their lovely, unendurable fragility.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Things I will miss, as much as those
who have taken them down, away
with them, in going, leaving
the string of paper birds
the photocopy of a freckled
Pippi Longstocking flipping pancakes
the lazy long-handled butterfly net
the Gorey alphabet poster
the pyramid of Raisin Bran boxes
until the very last moment of rise
into that long forever-after of aching
to rise again,
the settling drift
of phantom pain.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Observe the ritual of writing—
Strategically placed flowers, candles lit as if for prayers; making tea or reading omens in spent leaves; the sharpening of a pencil, just so; the filling of a favorite fountain pen (or my chased silver Navajo pen, now minus its silver cap) . . .
It's all there, in the breathy spaces between words.
image: Tutto Design
Abigaille had been called blowsy once, by a cadaverous young Japanese poet she met one late September in Bowness-on-Windermere, whose collection of haiku—thrust at her in a mustard colored folder outside the steamboat museum—she had declined to read and critique. But she was more fit now after a winter of Pilates and a few spring months of helping Richard Carpenter pile up his dry stone wall. She admired her almost-trim, muscular body as she dried off after her bath. It felt good being two sizes smaller, fitting again after thirty-some years into corduroys, denims, dungarees, not just the loose smocks she was used to wearing.
The Japanese man had been a member of his country’s Arthur Ransome Club, and come on an excursion to the lake to visit the “Rio” of the Swallows and Amazons series they admired so fanatically. The setting of his little haiku collection, he’d blurted out as soon as he had found out who she was. He’d been strangely ready for conflict, stubborn and rude and argumentative, when she had stood her ground. When the folder had fallen to the ground between them.
Monday, March 4, 2013
One of my favorite writing exercises is something I call Triplets. First choose three words at random from the dictionary or a book. Then use all of them in a sentence or a paragraph, beginning a story. Take it from there.
I’ve recently changed the exercise a bit, choosing four words instead of three, and making sure there’s at least one noun, one verb—either a specific tense or any, and one adjective.
Here are some examples.
bought ( “ )
The gilded book of Italian santi, bought in Venice on her second honeymoon (the week with its full moon that really clung to all of her senses like honey in its waxen comb, with bees and buzz and all), hadn’t mentioned any particularly inspirational saint that week. She’d looked in vain each day, that spring almost then years after Venice. That chill, damp May during which she could feel her whole self being wasted, minute by minute. Where were the saints who could save her? She turned pages, looking ahead, behind, searching.
The edict had gone out on Twitter on Tuesday: all silver was to be surrendered to the nearest collection point. Elsa carried her mother’s cream pitcher to the middle school next door, wrapped in a bag she’d made of her daughter’s powder blue t-shirt. Carried it as softly as a baby bird. The items jumbled together on the institutional folding table ranged from jumping trophies to antique frames to a pocket flask engraved with the letters JSJM, in an ornate script. As each new item was surrendered, the brisk Brunhilde running the drop was unreservedly triumphant, watching the old order vanish into the treasury of the god Homogeneity, whose temple was being shaped of molten silver, poured into a square, equal-sided mold, one hundred forty-eight feet deep and wide and high, as high as the resting place of Mausolus, the king who named the mausoleum.
My fidanzata gave the finishing touches to the garlicky mayonnaise—what she called aioli in her charming and tricky tongue. It was her grandmother’s recipe, she told my curious sisters, her grandmother who had kept men from dying (some, sometimes) in the Crimean War. Luce, my Lucia, made the aioli always with a pensive grimace, remembering her grandmère’s pain, the final moments of soldiers she’d taken on herself in writing down their stories.