Sunday, August 14, 2016

Needlework

Pull a needle from the cushion.
Mine is too weak to see its, now;
but thread by feel, by the give
when the thread finds its way,
and the resistance 
when it's drawn through against the odds.

What will we know later?
Not much. The sweetest hem will fail.
The kiss that fascinated, in the day,
will be perfunctory: received
as homage to antiquity.

If a breath inflates
a heart-locker deeper now than ever
still the ribs must shift against the fat,
bedded in gleaming white;
and a whole breath requires
first hauling the spine up straight.

Stitch by stitch around the cuff:
quick fencer's thrust
and tender tug, and finally
knotting off, again by feel, and
cinching it home. I hope to die this way,
a tientas, groping 
for an unknown certainty.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Sunset: Horsetail Falls

I think
I must limp into speech again
run a finger around 
the drain trap of the larynx
and shake the gettings off into the trash:
Sure older,
sorrier, less sure,
but still there are those who wait
like bachelor buttons on the roadside
swaying together with the queen anne's lace.

Even a very old woman, fading,
will find speech at odd times.
The first time she and her husband
(her first husband, not this one) were asked out
their hosts cooked on a wood stove, and
forgot the salt for the potatoes.
Just that: all the other details gone.
Where, when, why, we'll never know.
But she repeats, before the speech dies out again:
forgot the salt for the potatoes.

Still there are those who wait
like berries in the shadow of the bluff.

The last of the sun
makes a golden buzz of the line
where yellow-moss cliff meets sky,
and the water hits rock twice, three times,
before the final splash in the 
green dark below, where night
already has a hold. This is August,
and though tongue and throat are thick,
I think
I must limp into speech again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Frog Lake

A pale, worried, overstretched moon setting behind Mt Tabor: the sky light blue, faded before the day has even begun. Maybe we will have some summer after all, even if it is starting late in July.

Rubbed raw with politics, with the name-calling and the injustice and the vilification. If this is the best we can do, we had better close up shop.

By the little lake, yesterday, on the south slopes of Mt Hood, thousand of frogs, smaller than my little finger nail and as brown as the mud: we mistook them at first for insects. The whole shore was moving with them. To walk we had to retreat to the tree line, where it was dry; and the scented pine needles and twigs crunched under our feet.

An osprey came and surveyed the lake: he made one dive, splashing into the green water, but  missed his fish. He swept the lake again, twice, three times, he but didn't see anything he wanted to dive again for. He settled in the top of the tree, to brood about the Republican Convention, and work out a geometrical representation of the area of an irregular ovoid, reckoned in frog-yards, and how many fish-rises that should come to. The answer didn't lift his scowl, but he stayed there, swaying in the thin air and the shrill sunlight. There was peace maybe, somewhere, but he couldn't find it.

Then up highway 35, through the pleasant orchards and vineyards: a lovely and peaceful country, with glimpses of Mt Adams across the river; and then home along the Gorge. The cliffs on our left were outlined in a fuzzy, green-gold radiance, but my heart was closed to it. At Viento we stopped to use the bathrooms, and I suppose it was there that I lost my reading glasses, which I had perched incautiously on my knee while I napped in the passenger seat: no doubt I hopped out of the car and cast them out into the gravel. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Catsear

A house fly tapping the reflective linoleum with seven legs: the seventh, thicker than the rest, is of course his tongue. There is an abrupt typewriter rhythm to all his movements, and I wonder what his subjective experience -- if any -- might be: is he really dancing where he stands, a six- (seven-) legged Gene Kelly? Or to his own fly mind, are his movements as measured and deliberate as mine when I walk down the street?

---

A political distress comes to the boil: how thoroughly I disbelieve in the human capacity to grasp and grapple with the future! And yet we have to try. And the contempt we all have for each other seems to be all we have in common. I don't remember any equivalent to this contempt, even at the height of the fury about Vietnam. Where it all leads, I don't know, but it's hard to imagine it's going to be a good place.

I work hard not to participate: not to call names, not to impute motives, not to assume stupidity or ill will. It wears on my soul, because I do have strong opinions, and because they are very dark ones. I don't want to share the darkness, though. So I bite my tongue, and wait in the loneliness. There are worse things.

Meanwhile a delicate, beautiful summer unfolds, strangely kind and gentle: like the summers I remember from childhood, when we thought that the sky and the weather couldn't really change. Moments of peace.

Really though it just comes down to taking each task as it comes, and doing the best I can with it. I have no calling and no caller. I walk on the hillside, and the shaken catsear sends pale flakes into the air: I don't know what they're called -- they're not the seeds -- tiny husks, I guess. They launch for no reason, with no mission, but they ripple through the complexities of air, as if they had one.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Surrounded by Making

On the way out to Sylvan, at sunset, I'm on the lower deck of the Marquam bridge, leaving one snarl of freeway and approaching another. I get one quick glance at the new Tilikum Crossing, and then I'm negotiating the approaches to the Sunset Highway. This is all choreographed and memorized, because a wrong lane is a mistake that could cost me twenty minutes: and you don't maintain a massage practice by being twenty minutes late. So I focus. And anyway, the lower deck of the Marquam is more like a tunnel than like a bridge.

But coming back! I'm in the post-massage state of deep relaxation and tenderness. Night has fallen. I'm off the clock. And I'm on the upper deck of the Marquam, swooping up over the river with all the glorious lights of Portland off to my left. By planning or by fate, one lane takes me all the way through the labyrinth, from the Sunset to I-405 to the Banfield. I don't need to think. I need only follow my path, rising up and over, the world rotating beneath me: city lights, dark water, gleams, and glimpses.

Not long ago -- I don't remember the holiday: was it Memorial Day? -- there was a fireworks display on the river, and the starbursts of light were all around me.
Those shoals of dazzling glory, pass’d,
I lay my spirit down at last.
The return of a handclasp, a long exhalation. For a space of time, outside of the world of expectation and reckoning, outside of my own awkwardness and ambition. But the price of getting outside is accepting that I must go in again, without murmuring. And I do: but first, the interval of driving over the river, still breathing in tandem, still with my mind full of touch, of the long and detailed conversation of skin and skin. There's no translating it into words, and I won't try. But the nightfall and the trees outside the windows linger in my mind for days, and the hand-thrown pots that I must carefully step around. I am surrounded by making.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hayrick

Muzzy with lack of sleep: Martha's phone was peeping -- at the high range audible to me, inaudible to her -- all night long, every minute on the minute, three quick peeps. I could have woken her to ask her to go find it, but that would have roused me completely as well: so I hovered in half sleep for several eons, while the world crumbled beneath me and the past built coral reefs up over my head: the sun glimmering through the miles of sleepy water, and my head nodding in the chance currents.

So today: groggy, but possessed of that resolve that often comes with lack of sleep. I will do things differently, from here on out. I will ride this horse up out of the canyon and never be lost again. High ground.

In the murk, my hands find purchase at last, and I heave myself up and out of the quicksand.

Oh, my love, the wind is blowing up here on the ridge, and everything is clear and sharp. Where have I been, what have I been doing? I sit down and hug my knees and look out over valley. 

All my former lives are baled and ready to stack. It's been a long time since I wielded a hay hook, but it's one of those knacks you don't forget. 

Happy solstice, all you dear, strange, wavering creatures. A couple more weeks of light. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Respite

An unexpected respite: rain instead of a heat wave, and now a gentle cloudy day. Glad for my client this evening, in her little attic room upstairs: with the fan we'll be just fine. 

The voices all around me tumble and purl. I can distinguish nothing, but they form themselves into musical patterns and repetitions, with little crescendos of laughter from time to time. Mostly rising inflections: a questioning patter, as if everyone was uncertain and wondering. I float and tick with it, like an egg in its shell in a bubbling pot.

At a point of unexpected equilibrium. I've forgotten whatever it is I imagine I am supposed to do. I know it's getting warm out there, despite the overcast, but the air-conditioning is cold on my skin. When I got up this morning and saw that it had rained a little, and the ground was wet, I was relieved, and stood on the porch, perceiving the petrichor as a blessing, but missing its message: I saw only how glad the recently-cut grass was, and how the droplets were shining on the white hood of the Honda. 

The world has always been illegible, I guess, but I used to feel more often that there was a message I was missing. Now, not so much. Nothing written, nothing missed. I breathe deep, and there's a little sense of loss, but a larger sense that I am no longer wasting time on priestly nonsense. I have been too susceptible to plausible insinuations. "What if it says this?" Well, yes, what if: a thousand what ifs. But I want to actually know, and hold it in my hand. Or else to just breathe the air and the light for a couple of breaths, and then let this morning go, without instructions or summations or reviews. 

Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting.