Thursday, June 23, 2016

I've got two new poems out in the online journal Across the Margin--mostly thanks to my friend Tom, who suggested I contact the poetry editor. They are examples of the way in which facts can morph into more dramatic and terrifying fictions. I won't give you the backstory before you read them, but suffice it to say, no poets were harmed in the making of these poems.

Tomorrow morning I leave for the Frost Place, so my conversation here will be intermittent for the next week. When I return, maybe we can talk about Celan, maybe a little more about Tu Fu. I feel the need to open some windows.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It is sad to own an ancient dog who gallantly tries to keep up her loving habits. Slowly she follows me up and down the stairs, up and down the stairs, her hips trembling with the struggle. She takes her daily visits to the compost pile, to the chipmunk hole under the propane tank. In the cool of the evening she sits bolt upright on the stoop and gazes blindly into her darkening domain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

from a letter, Richard Wilbur to Robert Lowell, dated "Epiphany Eve" [1968].

I agree with you about the way that journeys—that fine Io speech in your Prometheus, Frost’s Directive, Shelley’s Alastor, the quest and trials in the Brothers Grimm, Beckford’s Vision—seem always to touch something radical, or primitive. What the old fellows chant in phalanx at the plaza, on the day of a Pueblo festival, is a story, or so I am told: how they came up out of the mud, how their heroes encountered the gods, where they traveled, how they came at last to Jemez or Zuni; are their ideas of what they are embodied in a string of happenings which at the clearest are parabolic, and are known darkly, not unperplexed as in theology. I wonder whether the first hearers of the Odyssey, sophisticated as it is, said to themselves in so many words that the story is a celebration of Suppleness and Adjustability and Shape-Changing. The journey-account seems not to work when it explains itself—as Shelley does at moments—or reeks of folklore like Yeats’ Oisin, or betrays a reading of Jung. However artful the work is, one wants the impression that it is flowing chancily as life and thought flow, simply saying and then and then, and then; believing what it sees; blundering into situations which threaten to mean something.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The temperature will be close to 90 today, and I will be driving to Bangor with an enormous load of stuff to donate to the Goodwill. For a non-packrat, I certainly have accumulated a lot of junk I didn't mean to keep. And that's just the basement. I've still got a chicken house and a greenhouse to go, plus an attic and various shelves and closets. This does not include Tom's shop and Tom's darkroom and the barn full of Tom's lumber, or the sheds with the lawnmower and the chainsaw, which are still cluttered with the junk of the previous owners.

Today's axiom: Do not own an outbuilding, or you will fill it.

The Frost Place conference begins on Saturday, which means I won't see Tom over the weekend. He will have to manage the stuff removal by himself. Also I see that the forecast is for hot during the conference. Usually late June is cold and damp at the Frost Place. Sweltering will be strange.

However, I do now own a pair of shorts. You may laugh, but I haven't worn shorts for a decade or so. It's not that I'm against them; it's just that I was wearing old dresses to garden in, mow grass, etc. My legs are very surprised by these shorts, but so far they are enjoying the air. And when my husband accidentally swamps the canoe, shorts are easier to flounder in.

Here are a few photos from yesterday's breakfast spot on Great Moose Lake. You'll have to imagine the soundtrack: a chortling loon, a grandfather and grandson puttering by in a fishing boat, a red-winged blackbird, a large bee, someone on the shore mowing grass, someone else on show bashing a dump-truck bed, a giant invisible scuffle that was probably a squirrel but sounded like a grizzly, me cracking hardboiled eggs on a rock. Etcetera.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Last night Tom loaded the canoe onto the truck. Now I'm up early this morning--baking biscuits, packing hard-boiled eggs and coffee and watermelon--so that we can go for a breakfast paddle on the lake. This is one of our favorite things to do together. And this weekend we've also cooked meals together and moseyed around the yard admiring the pea blossoms and the roses and cheered Jackie Bradley's home run and coddled the dog and ridiculed the cat and talked about our children and gone to a yard sale and reamed out the basement. Middle-aged romance is pretty nice.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vases of peonies, vases of roses, a tiny vase of thyme--

A cool morning. The grass in my small field glitters, dew-heavy, in the new sunshine.

Black coffee in a white cup.

The grief of a friend, whose niece was murdered this week. I do not know how or why. All I know is the note in my lap.

The chaos of my friend's heart. The peace of this place. I cannot reconcile them.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching begins next weekend. I'm confident that I'm forgetting everything I need to remember, but I'm also excited. Not only do we have a great faculty lineup, but our participant numbers have gone up this year. New people are coming from all over the country, and it will be wonderful to see their faces in the barn.

I hope the weather will be kind; I hope the ticks and bears will stay on their own side of the fence; I hope the mist will linger over Lafayette Mountain and the bats will fly at dusk and Merry the caterer will make that lemon layer cake again.

Already this morning hummingbirds are buzzing their feeder. I think it will be a real summer day: I might wear shorts; I might bury my face among mock orange blossoms; I might lie on my back and stare at the sky. Tonight Tom comes home.

Yesterday I started a poem draft. I edited a chapter about literary catfights among midcentury American poets. I ran the vacuum cleaner, and I made shrimp and potato salad for dinner. I did not cry on the phone; I did not even cry to myself. I must be getting better at being alone.