Thursday, September 03, 2015

Fierce and Graceful

"I am not fierce or graceful," she said.

Well. So autumn is coming, after all: whatever autumn means now. We'll find out.

When you come up the slope the the Vista House, and the Gorge opens up below you, the row of hills behind each bend of the river gets its own color, and the farthest is a featureless slate gray: a smooth cutout against the breathing sky. Maybe it's always that way: its the transition from terrain to geometry, and back again, that entrances us. God writes in shapes against the sky, and if you could just find the proper focus, the right distance, you'd be able to read it.

(She is fierce and graceful, she is nothing else. That's the geometry of it, though; and she sees herself, up close, as terrain. These things are as they must be.)


Jarrett took a picture of the Three Sisters, stripped and despoiled, from his airplane window. "I have never seen the Cascades so bare of snow," he wrote. If you think they will not exact a price for this humiliation, you don't know much about mountains.


Handling my poems, and sending them out for publication, I find that they are not very good: they can be tightly woven or they can have verve, but they almost never have both. And a poem should have both. I think maybe poetry is a mistake, for me, but I'm not quite sure. It doesn't matter.

My neck and cheeks are all bristly. These days I have an insuperable resistance to shaving and getting a shower before breakfast. It always seems tremendously important that I get out of the house, and leave fussing with my appearance for the trivial parts of the day: mornings are far too important to waste on primping and trying to disguise the fact that I'm actually, in my soul, a slovenly old man. Or maybe, further than that, it's as a slovenly old man that I have anything to say at all. A tattered coat upon a stick may have something to say: but whoever heard a word worth hearing from a brand-new coat in a shop window?

September. Whatever September means now. Every season is new and terrible: impermanence with a vengeance.


Dale said...

"I am not fierce or graceful": Luisa Igloria, "Fata Morgana," in *Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser*.

rbarenblat said...