Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Cleaning.

Among other things, I did 12 loads of laundry. Am so looking to curling up in the crisp cotton sheets that make their appearance this time of year.

Ode to Ironing

Poetry is white:
it comes from the water covered with drops,
it wrinkles and piles up,
the skin of this planet must be stretched,
the sea of its whiteness must be ironed,
and the hands move and move,
the holy surfaces are smoothed out,
and that is how things are made:
hands make the world each day,
fire becomes one with steel,
linen, canvas, and cotton arrive
from the combat of the laundries,
and out of light a dove is born:
chastity returns from the foam.

-Pablo Neruda
translated by Stephen Mitchell

Friday, April 10, 2009

At three minutes to midnight, I was desperate for a poem to post for today.


a lot of
it's not
either to
or even to

-Charles Bukowski

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dusting needs to be done here a couple times a week due to our surfeit of cat dander, people dander, plaster dust (the house being a work in progress) and urban grit. Will probably have achieved some sort of enlightenment when I can be so graceful about this activity; it's easily my least favorite chore.


Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.

-Marilyn Nelson

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Though a lot of where I live is green and thriving, there are many places that are not. My walk to school brings me through a particularly blighted area, an area where the only green one might see is from the weeds pushing up through cracks or perhaps a sickly tree that put forth a few leaves. Gray and black is the dominant color scheme.

The soundscape is dominated by car horns and the roar of 18-wheelers.

Sometimes, however, I am surprised to hear a few cheerful notes from the sparrows who seem to be the only birds (aside from pigeons) hardy enough to manage this environment. The sight and sound of one one of these little fellows perched on a chain link fence either calling to a mate or marking territory does much to make the walk more bearable.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

-Thomas Hardy

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tonight I'm knitting a mesh bag from recycled cotton to pass on to a lady in Atlanta as part of a group effort to promote sustainable living. (That sounds pretty Cambridge to me.)

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow,both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things-
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
....the Cambridge ladies do not care,above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy

-e.e. cummings

Monday, April 06, 2009

While putting together yesterday's post, I got to read a fair bit about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I knew that she married later on in life and I knew that her husband was younger than her, but had no idea about a lot of the details.

What strength of character and courage it must have taken for her to leave her family, to escape the clutches of her authoritarian father at a time when this just was not done. How wonderful that, at what was middle age then, she was able to live happily with her love, regain strength and start a family. Such perseverance, such patience on her part:

My Letters! all dead paper... (Sonnet 28)

My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee tonight.
This said—he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand. . . a simple thing,
Yes I wept for it—this . . . the paper's light. . .
Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God's future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine—and so its ink has paled
With lying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this . . . 0 Love, thy words have ill availed
If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

And Robert's:

Meeting at Night

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low:
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

-Robert Browning

Sunday, April 05, 2009

We're working on our bird songs now. So far, I only know a few: the robin, the cardinal, the jay, the sparrow, the titmouse, the chickadee.

This afternoon, was sitting out in the yard listening to the mad chatter and trying to isolate the individual songs. I think I got a few correct, anyway.

Closed my eyes for a bit and, while listening to the songs, got to thinking about Pan's flute. According to Edith Hamilton's Mythology, The satyr fell in love with a nymph called Syrinx. Terrified of him, she fled. Just as he was about to catch her, however, her sisters turned her into "a tuft of reeds." Not one to give up, Pan created a shepherd's flute from the reeds that Syrinx had become and beeswax.

A Musical Instrument

What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.

He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.

High on the shore sat the great god Pan
While turbidly flowed the river;
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.

He cut it short, did the great god Pan,
(How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notched the poor dry empty thing
In holes, as he sat by the river.

'This is the way,' laughed the great god Pan
(Laughed while he sat by the river),
'The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed.'
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
He blew in power by the river.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning