Nothing to eat

How to Plant Asparagus

There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord.
The blessed plants
and the sea, yield it
to the imagination intact.

— William Carlos Williams

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I am looking forward to:

  • Getting our yard in shape; planting things (pepper garden, onions, potatoes, flowers). I am desperate for some of our flowers to grow. The daffodils and tulips in the front yard have been taking their sweet time, probably because it’s been so unseasonably cold.
  • Actual spring weather. This cold weather and the persistent threat of snow every weekend is really getting me down.
  • Rescue adoption event tomorrow, to which I will be taking Laszlo. Here’s to hoping that he garners some positive attention!
  • Reading again. I have been in a non-reading funk, mainly because caring for a puppy all day means that I have little ability to divert my attention to quiet, stationary pastimes. I think I have also lost a lot of enthusiasm for fiction, which has never happened to me before.
  • Buying clothes and thinking about clothes and paring down my wardrobe. Still musing a lot on fashion and the importance of dressing well. I am reading a poorly organized book on British fashion, The Thoughtful Dresser, but it has inspired some thoughts. For instance: There is a reason why Paris and New York are hubs of fashion. In those cities, women are seen on the streets all day long. In contrast, there is a reason why Wyoming is not a fashionable center; women fulfill different roles (cattle wrangling?) and thus have no need for stylish, meticulous presentation in dress (functional presentation, yes, but no one would see you in vintage Dior even if you owned it). Something else I’ve been thinking about: Why is there such a lack of diversity in men’s fashion? Has it always been this way?

Happy Friday!

You have a thousand prayers but God has one

Sunrise

NOT SO. NOT SO.

Anne Sexton

I cannot walk an inch
without trying to walk to God.
I cannot move a finger
without trying to touch God.
Perhaps it is this way:
He is in the graves of the horses.
He is in the swarm, the frenzy of the bees,
He is in the tailor mending my pantsuit.
He is in Boston, raised up by the skyscrapers.
He is in the bird, that shameless flyer.
He is in the potter who makes clay into a kiss.

Heaven replies:
Not so! Not so!

I say thus and thus
and heaven smashes my words.

Is not God in the hiss of the river?

Not so! Not so!

Is not God in the ant heap,
stepping, clutching, dying, being born?

Not so! Not so!

Where then?
I cannot move an inch.

Look to your heart
that flutters in and out like a moth.
God is not indifferent to your need.
You have a thousand prayers
but God has one.

Keep the windows open

windows

Frenzy

By Anne Sexton

I am not lazy.
I am not on the amphetamine of the soul.
I am, each day,
typing out the God
my typewriter believes in.
Very quick. Very intense,
like a wolf at a live heart.
Not lazy.
When a lazy man, they say,
looks toward heaven,
the angels close the window.

Oh angels,
keep the windows open
so that I may reach in
and steal each object,
objects that tell me the sea is not dying,
objects that tell me the dirt has a life-wish,
that the Christ who walked for me,
walked on true ground
and that this frenzy,
like bees stinging the heart all morning,
will keep the angels
with their windows open,
wide as an English bathtub.

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LOVE this poem. It hits me with such truth and deep, personal applicability today.

We are headed to Southern Pines for the weekend, to see both sets of our parents and, most of all, to meet precious baby Georgia! (Georgia being my parents-in-laws’ new puppy.) I can’t wait. I just hope Pyrrha plays gently and doesn’t try to snack on the wee babe.

Oh, and Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!

Everything I have ever learned

Click for source.

In Blackwater Woods
Mary Oliver, from American Primitive

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Let it go. A poem I have needed this week.

Busy, busy, busy week; no time for blogging, so here’s some more Mary Oliver for you. Mom, Dad, Grace, and Sam are coming to visit tonight, on their way to D.C. for Kelsey’s birthday. Excited to see them all. I think Pyrrha misses Juju (aka Dad).

Living among the things

Click for source.

THINGS
Liesl Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.
We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,
and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.
Even what was beyond us
was recast in our image;
we gave the country a heart,
the storm an eye,
the cave a mouth
so we could pass into safety.

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Happy Friday! Things I am looking forward to this weekend: Attending the greatest event in this town, the annual JMRL Friends Book Sale; arranging a play-date with Pyrrha and Roland; reading; practicing ballet; cleaning the house; resting.

In the family of things

Geese Flying
Photo source: Flickr user superstrikertwo.

An offering of grace, a place to belong.

Wild Geese
Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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Have a lovely weekend. I am looking forward to drinking lots of tea and reading and staring into Pyrrha’s eyes and asking her what is to be done with the filth of American politics.

Feelings: Oh, I have those

Click for source.

The Red Poppy
Louise Glück

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Have a nice weekend, friends. I am looking forward to some quiet time with my husband, who has had a very busy week. Peace!

How everything turns away

(Yeah, I know, everyone’s read it, but read it again! It’s worth it!)

"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus," by Brueghel.

Musée des Beaux Arts
W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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Happy Friday. Maybe this beautiful little poem is grim, but it’s also such a gentle and compassionate way to think about people, to remember that suffering is happening all around us, “while someone is eating or opening a window or just dully walking along.” Hope your weekend is filled with those kinds of realizations.

Married love

Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Bani Khalid. Source: Flickr user Alun W

From “After an Absence”
Linda Pastan

I had even forgotten how married love
is a territory more mysterious
the more it is explored, like one of those terrains
you read about, a garden in the desert
where you stoop to drink, never knowing
if your mouth will fill with water or sand.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

For Guion. Thanks for taking me to poetry readings, for getting our new car fixed after an anonymous idiot plowed into it, for listening to me, for taking me on dates, for helping me with whatever I need. Happy Friday.

Living alone with Jesus

Jesus, if you are in all thirty-seven churches,
are you not also here with me
making it alone in my back rooms like a flagpole sitter
slipping my peanut shells and prune pits into the Kelvinator?
Are you not here at nightfall
ticking in the box of the electric blanket?
Lamb, lamb, let me give you honey on your grapefruit
and toast for the birds to eat
out of your damaged hands.

From “Living Alone with Jesus,” by Maxine Kumin.

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SIDE NOTE: NEW CITY ARTS FORUM

You know that I care about art. I am lucky to live in a town that also really, really cares about art. Little Charlottesville has more arts organizations than you can count and one of the very best is New City Arts Initiative, headed by Maureen Lovett. Maureen and her team are organizing a wonderful event April 20-22, 2012: New City Arts Forum. This conference pools together artists, presenters, musicians, and even brewers (like my husband) to discuss the big questions: What is good art? Why does art matter? How do artists get money to live? If you’re in town–or even if you’re not!–come check it out.

And happy Friday.