Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Reflections


Reflect—the late October light, the panoply of clouds, the sobbing woman in the library, sorrowing among the unfelt and unfeeling books instead of being comforted by them. 

. Give back the world around you, what you have absorbed into your depths or caught only obliquely (glimpse or glimmer) on your silver surface ruffed by wind or wake.
. Consider, contemplate, muse on . . . and then give back those ponderings to those who might take them in turn, reflect again (and always differently, a reversed or distorted or imperfect image) the reflections.

Parallel tracks in rain-greened grasses catch my eye, the grass as new as in spring in this advancing fall.  The tracks made by a car or truck or tractor having driven through the orchard of old apricots with their gnarled trunks, their druid limbs.  I'm reflecting on their quiet journey—what they mean, those steady marks of passage, where they lead and what they make me feel.  Do they lead on, somewhere, or back?  Is it a path of hope, or just a set of ruts hard cast in mud?

I reflect on the day's inhabitants.  A woman all but paralyzed in a wheelchair, settling at the window with a book, her helper with another in the armchair behind her.  The children in their princess guises, their animal ears, the fearsome creatures they delight in becoming this day, each year again, taking the town in broad daylight.

My own costume is not disguise, but mirror.  Not putting on something I'm not, but reflecting what others are and do.

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”—Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin

image:  Nadine Photography, Reflet

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On Such a Day as This, What Would I Do?

Drive up to see the aspens' yellow glory in the mountains above Santa Fe, take the train down the length of Italy to Rome?  Sail through the Bay of Biscay in a striped Breton fishing shirt and cargo shorts, barefoot, or just go to the library on the back road?

Make minestrone soup, or farro and white beans with rosemary, or a good stew?  Maybe a cassoulet with chicken, sausages, and the bacon I have by chance on hand?

Go on a horseback ride from pumpkin patches to the white-capped surf, and then eat fish grilled simply at the harbor with the fishing boats?

Read Tony Hillerman, Colette, or Henry James? 

Which world, which guise, to choose?  The breathlessly impossible or the quiet and sure?

A single poem, I come up with or come down to.  A poem I pluck from all the year's accumulated bounty like a perfect apricot, kept well beyond its season in a hand-shaped blue-glazed bowl.  A poem that encapsulates the day, the time, the longing that arises on this crumbling edge between what's been and what's coming.  What's here.

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

—Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems 1957-1982, North Point Press

image:  Santa Justa Beach, Bay of Biscay