Friday, August 1, 2014

[Newspapermen] did not feel it so necessary to assume an objective tone in our reporting [in the 1870s]. We were more honest and straightforward and did not make such a sanctimonious thing of objectivity, which is finally a way of constructing an opinion for the reader without letting him know that you are.

      --from E. L. Doctorow, The Waterworks

Beyond is a brightness
I am not equal to

Yet what I see
Turns into what I want

     --from Sophie Cabot Black, Bird at the Window

I'm not sure that these extracts have anything to do with one another, but both struck me this morning, as I sat here trying to forget how much of my day I've already devoted to dealing with an ear-infected poodle, a rascally cat, and an ex-mouse who spent his last hours dancing incontinently over my kitchen counters. [I wonder if I am the first person to turn "incontinent" into an adverb. I think I should also be the last.]

It's a cool morning: a scant 50 degrees and overcast, as usual. The angle of daylight is autumnal, and we've only reached the first of August. My feet are cold, and already I am thinking about firewood, yet the corn has only just now come into tassel and the tomatoes are still green.

Next weekend the boys and I are going to Vermont for a few days, to visit my family. Then J goes back to college, and P goes back to high school, and I begin another round of travel. First, I'll go to Star Island in New Hampshire to teach at a retreat, and then I'll go back to New York City. Yesterday I was invited to read at the Verdi Square Festival of the Arts, alongside a handful of my favorite poets. I am so pleased. I will go to the city by myself this time--nine hours south on two buses, a clutch of books on my lap. The leaves in the parks will be yellowing, and I will kick them with my boots. I have voyaged so much this season, as the weeds in my gardens will testify. But the travel has been good for me . . . my thoughts en route; my eyes, watching.

Someday I'll write poems again; I can feel them burgeoning. In the meantime I read and look out the window, and work on other people's manuscripts. I try to remind myself that editing is like playing scales: I may not be writing my own poems or essays, but I am thinking hard about writing. I am listening to sentence cadence and paragraph structure and line breaks and the breath of commas. I try to remind myself that all of this is nourishment. The paycheck is nourishment also.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Poems often need to incubate.