Friday, November 19, 2010

Second-Hand Risings

Found the ingredients to begin to shape my plum cake recipe. I am still deciding whether a chocolate cream cheese icing would be too much or just what the damsel plum ordered. Anyway, I completed my china pattern, a simple pattern I chose when I was only fifteen and attended a Greek wedding where the bride had registered for the reasonably-priced and kind of innocent pattern (a white rose on white background with the hint of blue shadow to its folds). It's a little fifteen year old me still, but I love that this late date from then I still like it and that it isn't the dumb 24 carat rimmed Lenox show-off china that so many other of the brides chose that year, primarily for the fact that it was the most expensive (and least interesting) of the patterns.

Thanksgiving is shaping up nicely, thanks to etsy, some thrifty runnings-around but little actual thrifting. That's the thing: I am taking a kind of mostly-haitus from thrifting, that delightful verb that makes a Friday afternoon into a treasure hunt. Because I am good at few things, and because I was trained by the best (Thanks Bear!) a professional antiques picker and my co-seller on an old ebay shop that made grad. school bearable and even at times, deeply elegant, I rarely go into a thrift store and don't score or as my friends Kyle & Russel used to say: "swoop!"

It's an urban treasure hunt says my friend, and he's right. That's why I'm not playing right now, it's back to that quiet (and the novel-writing I've been sneaking in b/w unpacking and holiday-planning). I am trying not to feel the rush of the find, trying not to feel "better" because a thing plugged up the lacunas-various that make me feel like I need to feel. And there is something to be said for leaving someone else space to have things that he likes and space to be filled-in with our shared-finds. There are only so many cutesie things or gorgeous scarves or dresses so pretty that I never wear them for fear I will ruin them, or dresses so numerous, I forget I have them until some wrong season or other, I move and find the summer dresses in the late fall or with my many summer moves: winter clothes that make me prespire just to look upon. I love the stories inside them, the fabrics that lay colors alongside one another in ways that seem fresh because they're not, new because they are so old.


tulip set
by the window

in its vase
of dusk is like
aflame. You

cannot help
but say — no.
Because a

tulip caught in
that glass is
a flame —

and once you
have said it how
to return to

bloomed stem
or soft spike
of anther

where now
is fire? Words
burn — bridge

colours away
from colour — so
while one

tulip flares
we lay waste
to night and

our reddened
names — the way

cannot bear to
end — or as you

take your leave
of Mario that

so missed and
strange. And you
sputter so

fierce with it
that you say it
again —

that this gift of
tulip is un-
like any

other — which
fires my lips
with a glow

already half
subsiding as you
turn to gaze — to

look with a mind
on the very point
of opening.

2010 Mario Petrucci

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

After Praising Silence, Two in One Day

Because I meant to talk a little about assembling a home. About an umbrella I saw today with one of my most stylish students that caused me to think "what is yellow like that?"

I have my first grown-up kitchen, after scouring most of High Street, and ending up purchasing from Grand View Mercantile a sideboard and a china cabinet, both wonderfully 40s with little deco-like green designs and a wonderful oak with yes, chrome legs. Then Clintonville to find a table, that quite nearly (and to the detail)matched the atomic, rustic thing that my kitchen begs to be. Really, it's a kind of vintage country at the end of the day. I have favorite High St. shops and my collection of thrift stores that I stalked, inclusive of Flower Child and my beloved Mary Catherine's, one shop that I found great finds at but no longer visit as the owner and I find one another's presence less than pleasant, and a great little bank of North high shops where I found a stoneware bowl that I still dream of owning and a blue-mirrored table to match my coffee table. We looked and looked for a couch that met the criteria for somewhat divergent aesthetics, and the salmon-velvet couch I loved lost out to a big, new couch but with my upholstery picks and my mid-century accent chairs:one coral clam-shell back herculan beauty with day-sky of silver-threaded stars to its sun-setting sky and one torn to bits chair that had crossing legs on the side and made the upholsterer declare that for all the antiques he'd seen, he had never before seen a chair like this. It will come home all olive-velveted up with a throw pillow of fuchsia carved velvet and little chartreuse leaves.

What's interesting about any of this? To me, it's home, the first one I've ever really made, and the first time that if I paint a wall, it's my wall. If I find something major to buy for it, it comes from some place I love to support and it is a gift to the home and to time itself, not forever but long enough to warrant the look-ahead. How long has it been since I could say as much?

Teaching lately has been really wonderful. My lit. class is full of some very special and especially bright students who are full of life and make me feel as if they are getting as much a kick out of the class as I am. My fiction workshop was so savvy and on in their assessments of one another's stories today that I felt like I was sitting in a grad. workshop.

Body of the Hour

To say, the soul

is like saying, the clock
lost its body and went on ticking.

Shadow-body, this one
who lived behind the bat-faced
bone of the pelvis

raised in the slicked-back hackle of blood . . .

To say, comfort me now in the hour
of my loss is

to be the hour, always.
To be Lord Almost.
Mother So-Close.

To be this time each time
you stop—put down the fork
or turn the page and look up:

The meadow in a lather of white
four-o-clocks, the birthmarked
butterfly moving

as if written—erased—written . . .
I remember once in this world
I was an absence,
like you. Like you.

Beckian Fritz Goldberg

Where Have I Been Lately?

The obvious answer is Shawnee Hills or New Home or Revising My Life. But that last one is apt enough to move me into today's post about not posting, not engaging, listening more, talking less, and the quiet of the new place I live that makes every sound significant. This, in striking opposition to the narcissism-dial to which our American radios are too often set.

I think I wanted this quiet for my novel, my poems, for the kind of serenity that me and mine can enjoy over our shared love of great music, books and the decor and wardrobe that were stuffing the draughty holes of me up, much in the shabby way that my old apartment's ticky-tack winterizing functioned (or didn't) so that I could stand in my bathroom, put on my lipstick on a windy day and look as if I were posing for a magazine with my hair blowing back slightly in mid-December, with closed windows. The people I really admire, really want to be like when/if I grow up, have things to say that are related to something beyond themselves and the world's perceptions of them. An old boyfriend of mine once said that people often grossly overestimated their looks--believing every good, inflated thing that they heard or tried to pull from people, and too, their sense of how interesting they were. He didn't say, but I went on to consider, that this often takes place in inverse proportion to the amount of chatter of the self or rather prattle about oneself in which a person engages or indulges him/her/self. I read for a time, the journals and poems of May Sarton, and from her I learned about looking outward, keeping the internal internal and watching birds and plants to deal with some of life's more intimate griefs. It isn't that she doesn't tell, it's that she doesn't make it the point of things.

I have been trying to keep what's mine inside and leave some room for steeping things up for the page. I guess I'm saying that it keeps me from this blog where I had the sense that one or two people that I might know in some way read me and that others might swing by and read something that would help to make them or me feel better understood. I had little life in Columbus outside of school and work and this was a way to have holidays with, if not friends, then company of some sort.

Now there are birds whose names I don't know that flicker in and out of branches and a new all black cat that I think I'll call Loretta after my favorite Cher character in one of my favorite movies of all time or Marlo or Ann Marie for That Girl and how I love her or maybe Romany because I don't know where she comes from and I love that word. And there are streets I haven't wandered and neighbors I haven't met and there is the real time to consider and how fast it is flying by.

This Is Not My Story

cereal boxes in the kitchen

cupboard nibbled through
the sudden appearance of

droppings, a mouse in
the house, her lover says
it has a very tiny heart,

you need only chase
it until it tires; he knows
the hearts of small creatures

having chased down a few
chickens in his youth, accustomed
to how birds wear out

easily — the human heart is
a wholly different animal,
we must sense when to give in

before the other gives up

Shin Yu Pai