creative ramblings & reverie

Monday, August 21, 2017

Writing Spaces

image:  vintage photo


an African basket
full of green beads,
the broken strands
confided to it
months ago, forgotten
there, let go

but coiled in
the mindful darkness,
in the way of sleeping
animals or seeds,
luster abides


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Writing Spaces

One of Matisse's women reading—but what?  What writer gets to occupy that Matisse space?


The surest thing
I've ever done—

ripe avocado
     skin rough and pit silky, fitting the palm
bright lemon
     stinging just a little in a cut finger
sea salt
a clove of garlic
onion and tomato
crushed red chile, seeds and pods
     to breathe
     to become

and then the glazed blue bowl
     textured like avocado skin
yielding its alchemy.

No measuring,
just practice, taste,
this ritual I've followed
almost all my life

that always brings
a kind of clarity
I'd forget otherwise

and gives me back myself
my Santa Fe childhood
those gatherings of friends in later years
     on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay
that hillside in Mallorca, where after
deliberating words all day
with other writers
we'd have gin and tonic
little grilled peppers
and guacamole
while the sun went down below us
in that distant sea

strange and always familiar


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Writing Spaces

From one of my collage notebooks . . .

Instead of Housecleaning

Instead of housecleaning
it helps to think of it
as visiting the things I love—
painted Italian candlestick
San Ildefonso pot
my paleography collage
with bits of a Larousse
cottonwood drum
the alabaster jar
from the hilltown
of the Etruscans
where I walked
with mad dogs
in the noontime sun—
my long-ago
down to this
dreamy circling
of the threadbare cloth,
this unheroic
shooing off of dust.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Writing Spaces

In a summer garden . . .

image:  Pierre Bonnard, Le Bosquet


the chunky orange umbrella
at the mustard-colored house
I can avoid seeing, moving
my chair just six inches sideways

the ugly dark-souled plants
that have filled up
the lovely clean frame
of the bay window
that last week held just sky and sea
I can't help glancing at over and over
if I want to see the waves beyond

easy enough to overlook, really

but all day I have been aware
of the hour approaching
for the gathering across the street
for the man (husband, father)
who has just gone into hospice care

aware like breath itself
while buying mustard greens,
filling a jar with water, lavender,
paying especially tender attention
to my own husband's
     cotton stocking feet,
hearing the children's voices
in the summer distance
all but drowned out
by the falling of the waves


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:

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