Occasionally, it happens: the moment I would like to freeze, to stay inside for good. If this was all there was, it would be enough. Sunday, reading on the deck, the day breezy but mild, jasmine climbing the purple wall. Enough. Of course, soon Chris was late getting home from a mis-timed movie and I worried he’d died on the highway, and soon I was on the highway myself, off to a dance lesson where I am learning to stand tall above my own feet when I turn. Mortality has been on my mind lately–my own, those I love. I don’t want to live braced for disaster when there is no disaster. Here. Enough. A time between losses, as my friend wrote in a poem years ago, a poem I have carried inside me. This week I learn of her own deep loss. This week I am between. By evening we were on the deck again, eating white beans with roasted fennel and tomatoes. Chris noted the bugs eating the tree, the ladder propped against the wall for the leaves he didn’t clear from the roof. Come back, I say. Here. Between. Everything as green as it will ever be.
May 3, 2015
Go back to your old haunts in your old neighborhoods and what do you find: they remain and have disappeared.
— Colson Whitehead, “Lost and Found”
Praise the city you hardly see anymore, with a glass and steel Marriott rising right over the spot of the long-gone Mexican cafe where you’d sometimes sit alone at the counter eating migas. It’s all any of you talk about–where the city you once knew has gone, and how long it took to get wherever you were going in the traffic, the traffic. As if everything isn’t always changing anyway, as if you could still be 19 or 31 or 42 and strolling through streets ever familiar. And then, praise that day your old life comes marching toward you carrying who you were when you first set foot in the city. The writer in overalls reading a book in a coffee house was once you, now isn’t, but you know you once embodied that ease.
Then while you sit at a different counter eating fish tacos and drinking red wine, up walks a man you had one date with 15 years ago. It was your first fall or spring, and the first time you realized that the temp in this city can shift 30 degrees in a matter of hours. What you remember is how he walked down the sidewalk a pace ahead of you, to your right, trying to block the wind. Praise that you knew his face when he said hello. Praise that there are still writers and coffeehouses and books to pull from satchels. Praise that no matter how tall the new buildings, you still know the way home.
April 9, 2015
Praise how they come into the world, despite their unlikeliness, and how they just keep coming. Praise lines, verses, stanzas spilling down the page, praise white space en mass in this paperless age. To judge the Balcones Prize, I must read 37 books, and in this box they wait for me. Inside, a thousand poems with their pronouncements, their suggestions, their nuance, their clarity. They wait for me from cold apartments in Soviet Russia and the once-burned landscape of Hiroshima, from the deep seas of a father’s past and hands joining across a kitchen table. Praise the belief that we still have something to say. Praise the publishers who help us to say it. Praise the notebooks and napkins and open Word documents out of which they came. Praise the order, the voice, the desire to find just the right word. Praise, again, the lines, verses, stanzas, white space. Praise the music. Praise the need to speak it.
April 3, 2015