Sunday, June 10, 2012

So late it's early

and I've an urge to type with dirt-clotted fingernails.  The day was a big snake sighting. Something dark with yellowish zig-zagging, a water snake, maybe. I couldn't be sure. I was all about getting the rusted-out wheelbarrow from the woods, all about the planting of the vegetable garden and so flip-flopped out to the little forest beyond our yard. I had the wheelbarrow in hand when the coiled thing, tongue flicking, body poised for trouble, came into my vision. A foot away and with many feet of self to spring out to me. I screamed like a girl and ran straight down the road. I called the mister over as he was eager to see the snake and alas, and of course, it was gone. But I got my wheelbarrow and tomorrow I plant the tomatoes and peppers--patient things they've been, waiting for a long-time home.

We planted the Kim-gifted yuccas. They were put through a lot of waiting too, and by the time they got into the ground there was no telling if they were bound for thriving. I hope they make it. The blossoms are amazing: big white bells like lilies of the valley on super-steroids.

The froglets this year were early and adorable. The tadpoles are seeming to do well and the mystery tadpoles are still significantly larger and have yet to give me a way to tell just who they will be.

The delphinium is blooming a color of purple that seems impossible to believe in, but there it is: all spriggy and deep, deep. I warned you that the content me was likely boring, but she is happy, Gang and tomorrow morning will be here soon. Tomorrow afternoon means setting up my roof garden plant, floral sculpture thing. I can't wait. Now, I guess, as it is pushing two a.m., I should sleep.

Here's a poem by a favorite poet and one that I fortunate to hear read recently:

Poem for Jenny

Larkspur and delphinium, wild and tame
transcriptions of the same essential idiom
(as lullaby, corralled, is requiem,
a sigh, bound and gagged, a lyric poem).
Earth's trying to remake herself with stars,
her own inky domain of skyey colors.
She wants everything. It won't be hers.
Her starry flowers, heedless of safeguards,
will launch their blue and purple rockets heavenwards
and leave her to her dusty browns and reds,
her brief sky shattered, just as words —
the good ones, anyway — will quit this page
before I ever pay this garden homage
or name the pain I'm trying to assuage.
Nonetheless, these clusters are in flower
if only for an instant, as they were
a year ago, when Jenny (this poem's for her),
knowing how I love them, put them here
to make the way around my house less bitter.
My next-door neighbor, she'd watched things shatter
and so came by to plant and tend and water
and whatever else it is that gardeners do.
And I remember catching a dim glimpse, as if through
an impossible tunnel — what's all that blue? —
and thinking, as one thinks of something wholly out of view,
how lovely it would be to lay my eyes on them,
though they were there, waiting, each time I came home:
larkspur out the back, out front delphinium
(the cultivated version for the public eye,
its wild incarnation just for me . . . )
and once or twice I did suspect that beauty
and kindliness had aimed themselves my way
but each was such a difficult abstraction,
at best unverifiable, uncertain,
a meteor I wasn't sure I'd seen.
I, who'd been so lucky up to then,
was utterly astonished by what pain —
in its purest form — can make out of a person.
It was (such things exist) a brutal season
and one that's not entirely departed
though time has passed; flowers, twice, have sprouted.
The earth will be, twice over, broken-hearted,
which means, at least, according to King David,
in his most unnerving psalm, closer to God.
Me? I'd leave some distance if I could
though it would be untrue to say no good
has come from any of this. See? out my window
the earth again has sheathed herself in indigo;
this may be the time she makes it through:
her sapphire daggers, bursting their scabbards,
carve frantic constellations: elfin songbirds
vehement with blue and purple chords;
earth's reaching for her heavens, I for words
or any chink of rapture I can claim.
Delphinium. Larkspur. Larkspur. Delphinium.
Let me claim you as you climb and climb.

Jacqueline Osherow
The Yale Review
Volume 93, Number 2
April 2005 

Monday, April 02, 2012


(and for Steph Rogers, too)

Planted the columbines
in an Aprilful afternoon
It's been a hard year
for dying. Last week
my friend said: My my my.
She set a standard
for how we think
of ourselves, didn't she.
Women poets, that is.

Didn't intend to April
planted instead the annuals.
Then she willed me out
to the perennial squaredance,
and I spun the poems around
to return.

Not sorry but would,
with a gift for burning,
recall last fall, when someone
said: we've finished our various
augusts and started in
with the embers.

They can't leave completely,
one hundred percent
of what some ever spoke
aloud, recorded somehow.
One hundred percent
of what she ever spoke
allowed more, megaphoned:
like a begonia flashing
scarlet so many stories up.

Taking-April warmed early,
the May Pond shimmered
elsewhere, and the first vixen
of the season remains in her red
shadow, but from here on, I share
the notion of fox with her,
looking up always from the silvery
bend in the road of 1965,
and her with the photograph taken
in Alabama that echoed
a road ahead, neither then-wife
nor she, nor she-fox nor I
could have known what was mirrored here
central Ohio, where the woods hold
too, a tree hoop-skirted with deadly vine
where women meet and together pull the heavy
ivory needle through. A tree considers time
only barely--but when she died,
somewhere inside itself,
a trunk gained another ring.
A ligneous Saturn, an earthy myth.

Hidden. A glossary absent our classification
we wander then, undefined nameless,
spelling ourselves out to the palms
of our own hands. Might she marvel
to find us, written in our own hand,
hidden in our own hides, thriving.
The other world muffled now, harmless
and the body of us, a sea beginning
nowhere, everywhere.
An ocean's origins confound us,
the sybaritics of each day
undress our wounds, say
what we must about passing
us by, or on and among these years, imagine,
a woman's meaning to another woman,
magnifies: sisters in the distance,
the braided language spoken
in long walks, into bathroom mirrors
where we speak to the eyes
reflected off the glass, or browsing
where we speak as we file through
clothing racks and we know to pause
when the hangers pause, to stop mid
philosophical musing and suggest
how well that color harmonizes with our flesh.

Sometimes she rejects sunlight,
opens to the flourishing fields
the refusal of umbrellas, caped
in rain, the frosted windows
embroidered with cold thread.
A least once the sun rejects
her and together we're unforgetful,
the train tracks of our bones
parallel, the destinations varied.

Inside us, the marshaling yards
grow shady, connections we
might have made fall into night's
long fall and we tarry, separate
malingerers. We spill ahead
into a steely nowhere.
Certain words occur:
enemy, oven, sorrow, enough
to let me know
she's a woman of my time.

To be a forest escaping, a tree
broken-out of the greenhouse,
a fractured satellite hooked
by a fork of branch, unrooted
we travel, half-dead and dragging
our arteries against
the blood-soaked earth aswirl. Hush,
the moon is a head full of whispers,
listen: the voices are hers.

Dear season of loss,
deer season antler-stabbed
and velvety. A ghostly appetite
eats at us, the assertions
of the tentative haunters
wash through the woods
but to the untrained eye,
it looks like moss.
The fawn-colored earth,
buries us in doe-silence.

Something told, something true,
something sorrowed, something
grew in the telling, like a fish
or a mountain. At such elevation
first the air is blue then it is bluer,
first we are something then we
are the sum of things.

A summary, luckless we meander
visitors to our own states, our bodies
under siege, our mouths weary
from explanation. What seemed
like a shared-wisdom about us,
some days falling
between the suspicious
and the superstitious.

Each doomed day passes
and makes way for another.
I drink Mayan cocoa
and watch for seams
in the calendar: a centennial,
a millenium is best, a belief
that if this doomsday doesn't end us,
the next one will. It's worse than that:
our doom is singular, a chorus
singing all day, all days unharmonious
and out of tune. Ask her, she's out there now:
all ether, all song.

She thought the dress would mend
itself, slash and strap, buttonholes,
so much frayed and faded,
even the balloon print,
vaguely deflated.

To brook no passage,
the mixed-up dialogue
when we crossed
the Mad River. Never
without comment,
jest, sorrow, lent
things, borrowed.

The foxes live in the sky
blue house, abandoned
now for years.
The windows filled with seashells,
porcelain horses, the souvenirs
of where the living travel.
Mementos of the mortal
outdated fragments, keys
to unlock no-memory
only clutter for the kids
to take away, But year after
year, they fail.
In the sci-fi version: the vixen
shades us. the magic of an enchanted
forest ghosty, the mysterious ripples
on the reservoir only her soles
bridging the banks, arriving with mercury-silvery
footprints, staining the shores with rolling light.

And what of the longer-dead?
Homes we place our ears against
and listen for the sound of the sea.
The detritus of the late
creatures, the waves they weathered.
All that they left behind, patient and wild:
even their chalky coffins are fans
and coiled-infinities.
Some hours: the delicate balance
of preparing blowfish. Each recipe,
a warning, each bite, a dare.


Let's dredge the pond of your muteness
where drowned things live again.

No one has imagined us, we want to live like trees
Instead, we're under the microscope, flying under
the radar, above the treeline, below the water table,
prepositions of an ailing grammar, but breathing,
breathing greeting the moon and more than stone.

The judicious sky suggested both:
measure and betrayal but the severed saplings
the girdled trunks emboldened her to call the ranger.
What can't cry out, cries in any case, a whole
crop of trillium flattened under the wheels,
the whimsical hackings at small, living trees,
made her alone inside.

The morning was a tree fallen
on a red car driven by tourists
from Lao. Or wrapped around
a light pole, or warped against
a building. The morning moved
from one state to the next, your
head on some ever-pillow

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kate Rhoades is the Best

Where I go, you go, Sister. And I'll be back here. I am just loving my homing-blog and writing again with my friend, Kathrine.

My mother, Kathrine and you: The Kath/arines/ryns/thrines are good to me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Lately, my blogging seems to question the act of blogging, much as my facebook-time wonders at itself: what do I get out of this? Is this a narcissist's passtime? Facebook connects me to people whom I would, in no other way, be able to access or yes, follow. It offers lots of professional and academic updates that I could never otherwise find. And it's fun, in a mindless way. Of myself I require only moderation or the eventual cutting-off from my facebook presence.

Blogging is different. One must generate content, have, as they say, a thing to say. I write. It's what I do, what I really am on the radio dial of stations, it is my favorite self. This blog has been besides sounding board, rough draft, place of conversation and imagined listener, also, a comfort, a friend when I went to new places and had not yet made any friends. A place to mark my days when they were sliding by without witness. I don't presume any sort of importance to my thoughts, but as with the bloggers I read, I hope to strike a resonant chord.

Resonance: there it is, as in what resonates now, for me and this self, a little down-dial or up-dial from the intagliod-me. My life feels more set. Nothing is set, no artist can believe otherwise, but there are levels of chaos, levels of disorder and there moments, say last, late summer, when one actually feels able to plant bulbs, those versions of next season that say more owner and less renter, those kind of promised crops that suggest not permanence but the hope of a little lingering.

I can linger a little now. One big beloved's illness, one beloved near-father-in-law's death, one dear left-behind wife's grief and relocation later, one long, long season of taking, I know better than to suggest anything stays put for long, but that anxiety, that brand of carpe diem and restlessness varies much from the way I talked here in this lovely keeping-place blog, so often and so (six whole years!) long.

This isn't a goodbye, it's a bifurcation, not from this road to another, not instead but rather, also. I won't be updating as frequently as I once was, but the house-me, the baking-me, the longtime writing and near-sister friendship of me to the great writer: Kathrine Wright, has a couple of new digs if you're interested in stopping by sometimes:

One is the cool baking blog which is blending into the great new wonderblog called Sweetly Disturbed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

For the lovely Dr. Adler, Whose Birthday I Neglected to Blog About

He of the Slouching Toward Cincinnati poem cycle,
of the black cat, zaftig in her plush pelt, beloved
beyond even the bouquet of radishes offered me
one long roadtrip to Kent, Ohio where we vowed
not to eat them until we called one another and so
we did, crunching the rubyness of them into the cell
towers of one a.m. or thereabouts. Where a big black
horse and a cherry tree were all that we'd need in Philadelphia
in the libraries of his discontent, as familiarity might breed
as much, in his hometown where everyone knows my name!
He of the jumping-on-hotel-beds, riding in Costco
shopping carts, the convertable top down to most
weathers, even in January, especially New Year's Eve
where half-frozen but exhilerated-we drove
a crisp path into the winter stars where later
we'll meet in the fruitstand of our dreams where yes,
we dare to eat a peach, and indeed they are always in season.
To which I say Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

I love my BFF! So happy the world could dream up this little prince
and he could be findable. (Though we really should
make arrangements in the event of time travel.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Keith Rehm!


Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a day.
Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors,
deft hands. And every prodigy of green –
whether it's ferns or lichens or needles
or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes –
greener than ever before. And the way the conifers
hold new cones to the light for the blessing,
a festive right, and sing the oceanic chant the wind
transcribes for them!
A day that shines in the cold
like a first-prize brass band swinging along
the street
of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds
with the claims of reasonable gloom.

Denise Levertov