All posts filed under: poetry

swans, 22 December | edge of evening

Do you change it? Do you leave it the same?

Top photo: December 22, 2016; Bottom photo: January 21, 2017                         Do you change it? Do you Leave it the same? from ‘Mind Core’ by Juan Felipe Herrera   I went running last Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t go in the morning, as I have been recently, because of an ill child and because we needed to eat lunch at 11.30 to get another child to her extra ballet practice. It was because of the ill child and the ballet child that I didn’t march, a trip to London being just too awkward to fit in. I thought that I was okay with that, but as the day progressed — coughing child, breakfast, supermarket, lunch, hour-long wait in the car for ballet child — I felt less and less okay about it, until I felt very un-okay in a frustrated and angry kind of way. Which is where the run came into things. Chunks of thick broken ice on the boardwalk. Silvered grasses. Pied wagtail. Robin fluttering …

Mothers by Rachel Zucker | edge of evening

Mothers

And then I was a mother. The mother. And all my mothers could not save me.Mothers by Rachel Zucker It’s hard to remember quite how I came to be having a Rachel Zucker phase. I hung out with this poem by Jenny Browne for quite a while earlier in the year and, as much as I loved the poem, I also loved Zucker’s assessment of it as, ‘a delightfully strange poem: seductive but not coy in its disclosures’. (A dusty post-it note stuck my copy of the poem says ‘inhabiting a poem’, a phrase from an interview with Sarah Howe. Howe, I later discovered, like Zucker, was once a student of Jorie Graham.) There was a phase of internet obsession with Zucker: reading some of her poems, finding out that she’s a mother of three sons, that she’s trained and worked as a doula. That she writes about the messy, the real, the concerns of life and of motherhood: My poems have trash in them. Also: soccer balls, puke, toddlers, the New York City subway, dirty …

Moon sky | edge of evening

Postcard from now: moon in blue sky

It was -3ºC when we woke on the Moose’s 6th birthday last week. But, still, he wanted to go to the beach & so we did. A sunny morning, a picnic lunch, the shelter of the Isle of Wight across the Solent. The moon was high in the sky. Later, in the play area at the top of the cliffs, the clouds crowded in & the cold reached my core. He was such a beautiful birthday boy, playing at the water’s edge, watching the sea snails on a rock. I think I’ve had this thought before, but six seems to be so much more about them. It’s enough time that my stories of the day he was born are at once distant and preposterous to us both: What? Once we were without you? Once, I didn’t exist! We’re coming more and more into a new phase of parenting: everything now is easy in a physical, logistic sense. It’s hard to remember it being otherwise. I have little else to bring you today. The sky is blue this morning and …

those days when everything moved

and we take from our lives those days when everything moved, tree, cloud, water, sun, blue between two clouds, and moon, days that danced, vibrating days, chance poem.from Richard Hugo’s poem ‘Letter to Kathy from Wisdom’ There was a heavy frost yesterday morning. After we’d dropped the ‘big’ children at school, the Pip-Pop & I walked across the playing fields to feed the ducks. The frost and the mist touched everything with that almost unbearable beauty of the familiar transformed. We met a couple of parents coming back along the path from the local pre-school alone & I felt so glad to have the Pip-Pop with me. There are times — perhaps rarer now the littles are getting older — when I know that one day, not so very long from now, I would give anything to be back in this moment. And that thought reminded me of the lines from Richard Hugo’s poem that I’d read earlier, in the still quiet house, the pool of lamp light falling on this table that used to belong to …

Window with baubles | edge of evening

January First

The year’s doors open like those of language, toward the unknown. Last night you told me:                                               tomorrow we shall have to think up signs, sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan on the double page of day and  paper. Tomorrow, we shall have to invent, once more, the reality of this world. from ‘January First’ by Octavio Paz, translated by Elizabeth Bishop with the author   Sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan. Here’s a blank page for the filling. Let’s go toward the unknown. Happy New Year! x

Summer

Now all the doors and windows are open, and we move so easily through the rooms. Cats roll on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp climbs the pane, pausing to rub a leg over her head. from ‘Philosophy in Warm Weather’ by Jane Kenyon That weather when our bodies feel soft and open, adrift in warm air. That’s when I know that summer’s here. And, finally, it is. All I want to do is lie in the garden & read. But not quite yet. July is going to be an exciting month for our little family. We’ve got a 90th birthday party, a ballet exam & a wedding, and then — though if you’d told me this a week ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible — then, we’re flying to California for a month. As I said to B last night, if it wasn’t happening to me, it’s the kind of thing that would really annoy me. There is an unexpected gap of four weeks when the kids are off school and nothing …

Prosaic, with possibilities

The older children are back at school. Possibility quickly collapses into the usual rhythm of school days, swimming lessons, reading-books, and packed lunches. The Moose has once more declared himself a vegetarian. ‘Where do carrots come from?’ he asks me suspiciously and I try to remind him of the summer we grew them in a window box by the back door. T has given out her birthday party invitations and soon it will be time to hang out the bunting. For the first time she is maintaining the list of invitees and acceptances herself, carefully ticking friends off in the notebook she picked out in a French supermarket. I’m trying to feel my way back into everything. I seem to be reading far too many books at once. Currently in progress: The Story of a New Name, the second of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan cycle, which I’m reading hungrily ever minute I can; Renata Adler’s Speedboat, paused while I gulp my way through the Ferrante; Tinkers by Paul Harding, also paused at almost the mid-point and …

Risking failure more minor

“Difficultly then, whether of life or of craft, is not a hindrance to an artist.[…] Just as geological pressure transforms ocean sediment to limestone, the pressure of an artist’s concentration goes into the making of any fully realized work. Much of beauty, both in art and in life, is a balancing of the lines of forward-flowing desire with those of resistance — a gnarled tree, the flow of a statue’s draped cloth.” “Leaving the refuge of silence demands the willingness to be seen, to be judged. It demands that we turn away from our desires to please, to fit in, to spare the feelings of those we love, and also from our desire to create a shapeliness that does not reflect how awkward, unfinished, and ambivalent actual experience is. For the writer, the person of public speech, it demands risking the fates of Mandelstam or Horace, Sor Juana or Christopher Smart. Or more likely, risking failure more minor: boredom, triviality, confusion. Risking seeing that we are lesser beings than we had hoped.” Nine Gates: Entering …

There was the light

Home, which brings its own strange dislocation. A seeing which is impossible in the rush and familiarity of the everyday. I notice all that we have started and not finished: the unpainted wall in our bedroom, the bare light bulb at the end of the kitchen, the half-read books piled on the shelf. The season too has shifted: the rhythms of our summer — all those hours in the garden — no longer fit the weather or the length of the day. The evening air feels autumnal, dusk falls early. We shop for school shoes. But, there was the light. The light at the coast and the light at B’s parents’ which holds you in its embrace — a fly in amber. Liquid, dripping light. Light into which to dive. My notebook is full of questions, plans. How to carry the energy of this holiday, the bliss of its togetherness, its ease, its possibility? How to work towards this being more what we have? How to hold to all that I have promised myself? I …

Freshening the world

Poems that change our perceptions are everywhere you look, and one of the definitions of poetry might be that a poem freshens the world.   By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say “We loved the earth but could not stay.” The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Ted Kooser From my morning reading, a little re-visit to Ted Kooser’s slim and wise book. I love Kooser’s practicality and warmth; his wonderfully simple definition of what a poem can be, of what we might aim for when we’re writing. But oh, that ‘could not stay’…really, can I really not stay? It will never be enough. We found this blackbird’s egg on the pavement as we walked to school one day last week. The Moose took it to pre-school and now it’s disappeared into T’s classroom. I wish I could let you hold it in your hands, feel how paper-thin that beautiful blue shell is, how it seems it would shatter at the lightest touch. Then there was …