Friday, May 7, 2010

We lost power again yesterday, for the third time in a week. You all must be thinking I live in the middle of nowhere or something. Fortunately this time we were candle-lit for a mere 4 hours as opposed to 19. And today: so far, so good--sunny and cool, with only a vague breeze stirring the autumn-olive hedge outside my window. I will be spending this blissful morning cleaning the goat barn, though I also plan to be thinking about meter because, along with being sweaty and pungent, barn cleaning is rhythm and repetition.

I often find myself counting as I pitchfork a load into the wheelbarrow, rather as if I were counting rests during an orchestra rehearsal: you know, during those 50-bar rests that a section sometimes has: say, when the woodwinds have taken over a strain, and the violinists are sitting quietly with their instruments on their knees, ostensibly relaxed. But what they're really doing is counting.

I count a lot: as I carry water buckets, as I mow grass, as I vacuum. I don't mean to count; I just do; and sometimes this embarrases me. It seems silly and mindless, this half-unconscious litany of numbers. But I think, really, that the habit must simply be my ear doing its idle work: practicing its scales and exercises, listening to the metronome of sweat, the clock of staying alive.

So anyway, this morning, I'll be counting and shoveling shit, which is the sort of poem that Hayden Carruth excelled at writing and is one of the reasons I love him so. And meanwhile the grass will grow and the apple blossoms will open; and meanwhile . . . well, you know. You can picture it all for yourself.


Cheryle St.Onge said...


New to be reading your blog. Love, love it though and today also living in a rural setting, hauling bales into barn, counting, washing horse buckets also counting and so enjoying the sense of complete happiness at seeing small part 100% done and clean.


Dawn Potter said...

Cheryle: so pleased you like the blog (thus far), and very happy to think of someone else hauling bales and counting. I forgot to mention I also hum tunelessly while working, which is strange because I'm perfectly capable of singing in tune. I think it must be some kind of Human Tractor imitation.

Anonymous said...

Dawn - So glad to hear from someone else who counts when doing tasks! I used to think all my counting was due to too much early-childhood counting on Sesame Street or something. I count as I walk mostly, but sometimes I just count without cause, as you say, to keep some internal beat.