Saturday, December 26, 2015

Morning Walk

A glorious walk this morning, the full moon lighting a sheath of cloud as it fell westwards, Venus rising huge and strangely yellow in the east, and Jupiter due south. I had to stop and stare at Venus a while. There must have been a haze eastwards: Venus is usually pure brilliant white, tending to blue, if anything; but she was as yellow as Jupiter this morning. The whole sky was a patchwork of cloud and clear, and the moon shifted the shades of everything, as she will: it took me a long time to get fully oriented. I knew nothing but Venus could be so bright as that fabulous orb in the southeast, and anyway I could already see Jupiter, high up on the ecliptic, but I wondered for a while if it was some sky-ship, or a mirage, or something. Or possibly I had walked away and slid unbeknownst into another sky, with new planets. I imagine sometimes the giddiness of seeing the southern stars for the first time: the most fundamental of disorientations. I hope I do see them, someday, and my world will yaw like a little boat on the sea. 

Walking home, northwards now, I saw that Vega was already well up over the horizon. She keeps appearing, these days, at odd times: when I was younger I only saw her in the summertime, but this year I was seeing her late into the Fall in the early evening, and now I glimpse her in the morning. Maybe I only looked for her in the summer, before. She did not signify so much in those days. Now I'm always looking for a sign that the blessing has left me. But the blessing never does: I don't understand it.

One special instance: I was on the far side of the West Hills, in the late Fall, getting my gear out the car, and one small pool of sky opened in the cloud cover, and there was Vega, just opening her wings to light on the Coast Range. Such things don't bear much handling, of course, but you can't ignore them either.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Pleasant Country

A flare when we close our eyes, felt but not seen, 
the soft plump of a transformer blowing in the middle distance: 
a fire behind us, some chemical that burns in the absence of oxygen,
livid with rage but gasping for breath.

So this is solstice-time,
and green-glazed petals drop from 
artificial plants, and the neighbor's TV
blares unintelligibly, and her curtains sway.

A young girl, just out of high school, maybe,
asks in a singsong voice:
"While you are in this facility is reading important to you?
Is it very important? Somewhat important? Not important at all?" and

"While you are in this facility how important is going outside?
Is it very important? Somewhat important? Not important at all?"
Outside? I wonder what she can mean: 
the parking lot? or the courtyard?

It turns out, as the questions go on, our neighbor would like 
some magazines to read. This is noted.
"While you are in this facility are social activities important to you?
Are they very important? Somewhat important? Not important at all?"

And it goes on, until we are wracked with pity
for the damned racist harridan who glares at my stepfather's
accented English. What are social activities to her? She 
doesn't know anyone but her son, and he doesn't come.

Outside -- there is an outside, though you can't believe it
until you get there, beyond ransom or reason or hope -- 
the gray clouds climb each other's backs to the height of high, 
and a fresh wind ruffles the trees. The rain is in our faces,

all the way from the sea and over the hills, high over the back-laced 
Tualatin River, landing on our white and frightened faces:
a sudden grace, a waking from nightmare, 
a shock from the pleasant country of life.