Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer not Summer

I don't know why this year the bees are coming to us to die. Every morning there is one or two or three motionless on the screen. Tomorrow they will lie curled on the porch, and we'll sweep them away, and one or two or three silent replacements will be on the screen. They've been doing this for days.

Does one go back to the hive, each time, to dance “this is a good place to die”? And do the ones that plan to come tomorrow watch him, gravely, attentively, studying for tomorrow's recital?

Once on the screen they never move, never murmur: protesters holding a silent vigil.

The 18th of July, and we have had two summer days. Cold and cloudy this morning. Lovely for me – I do not much like hot days – but eerie.

A cluster of bubbles on the surface of my coffee deceives me: I think a pale spider is floating there, its legs curled inward.

Either I was early, or my friend was late: I had twenty minutes in her quiet evening office to meditate, perched on the edge of a chair, my eye idly making flowers out of patterns in the carpet, feeling the sky wheeling slowly over my head, my inbreaths and outbreaths barely noticed, coming and going like hospital nurses in a sleeping patient's room.

Strange how nervous it still makes me, to stand up in front of people and say things, even my written-down poems. I would say it means nothing to me, I have nothing invested in it, but my shaky hands and quavering voice give me the lie. What do my hands and voice think? That strangers are really listening to me, really trying to see into my heart? Or that if I was good enough I could make them do so despite themselves?

But I did enjoy reading a couple of Sage's poems. It would be fun to do a reading in which you all read each other's poems. I would enjoy that much more than reading my own, both the reading and the listening. I'll never forget Beth in Teju's Brooklyn apartment, reading my poem “Santiago” aloud. – Now that did feel like someone seeing into my heart.

They're wonderful readers: Tiel, Carolee, and Deb. Sage couldn't come, so Tiel and I read some of her poems. And Deb read one of Jill Crammond Wickham's poems, so that all the Big Tent Ringmasters were represented. This is what modern poetry is, to me. Not “fame, that all seek after in their lives,” but rather, a way for friends to slow down and understand each other deeply. No doubt my hands and voice would get all excited about the prospect of being in the Norton Anthology of English Literature in 2046, but I don't. I get excited about hearing Carolee read “Jalopy.”

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