stray thoughts, travels
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Magnolia | edge of evening

Poetry makes language care because it renders everything intimate. This intimacy is the result of the poem’s labor, the result of the bringing-together-into-intimacy of every act and noun and event and perspective to which the poem refers. There is often nothing more substantial to place against the cruelty and indifference of the world than this caring.
And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos by John Berger

We’re at B’s parents’ house in France, on Easter break, on pause. Our Easters here are usually a taste of summer — often, juxtaposed against winter, more perfect than summer itself. But this year, with its early-Easter, its non-winter winter, it’s rained most of the time we’ve been here. Different weather, different rhythms; but still: reading, resting, thinking about what comes next.

It’s been a year since we were here. They’ve all grown so much. On the days when the boys have been able to play outside, it’s been as though the future is now and B & I can both sit and read/play guitar. Then, on days when we’re all indoors — or mostly so — it seems like the future is still, quite rightly, in the future.

For the Moose, six, it’s all about the bug box. He collects carefully, sketches in the notebook he chose in Hyper-U, researches what his gendarmes (firebugs), spiders or beetles eat and tries to provide it for them. He’s quite good about releasing his specimens in the evening, but, if not, they seem to mysteriously escape over night. For T, eight, it’s all about games with Nana with a side of reading. She’s discovered a teach-yourself chess book & is studying it hard. And for the Pip-Pop, now three, it’s all about following his big brother, reading and getting a look-in with Nana & the games.

For me, it’s about the next step. T will be nine in May; in August it will be ten years since she was conceived. I’m increasingly absorbed in thinking about what will come next — which is both exciting and terrifying, but mainly, I’m coming round to thinking, exciting. And, of course, it’s also all about the reading — I’ve read so many really good short books this week: the John Berger quoted above, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, the second volume of Anne Truitt’s journals, my first Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband, and — unexpected addition to my holiday stack — Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Happy days indeed.


The buds on the magnolia at home were poised to unfold last week. I’m hoping we won’t have lost too many to the stormy Easter weekend & they’ll be there to soften the blow of being home & alone with the littles next week. (Lovely, obviously, but always a shock after being in a 4:3 adult to child ratio to find myself outnumbered again.)


    • I loved it! And even more so because we visited an old logging railroad in California last summer. Also — slowly — rereading Jesus’ Son, but I think I might go back to ‘The Name of the World’ when I get home. A very different novella but one that’s stayed with me a long time

  1. “it’s been as though the future is now” I’m feeling that a lot lately as Iris heads towards 3. It’s something of an arrival. And I suppose here is the point where it all starts going by too fast.

    • Hasn’t it always been going too fast — at least in retrospect! I’m resigned to being one of the old ladies at bus stops remarking on how fast it all goes (there were a lot of them in South London!).

      • PS I bought Nell Zink’s Mislaid tonight. I’d never heard of her before yesterday when I heard about her twice (once here) so I thought it was a sign.

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