Thursday, May 31, 2018

Outside, our neighbor's cat, Jack, is waiting impatiently for Ruckus to emerge from a bush or behind a garage. The two have become sudden friends, though Ruckus is, unfortunately, the bossy overbearing pal and Jack is the humbler, more anxious one. He is constantly peering through our doors, wondering if Ruckus can come out and play. Meanwhile, Ruckus pretends he doesn't notice or jumps out at Jack from around corners.

Still, as cat relationships go, it's a friendship, and I am amused by the way they crouch under bird feeders together, prowl among the garlic fronds, play-bat in the grass, and recline tail to tail pretending to ignore one another.

In other dull news: supposedly my car will be fixed today--hurray for transmission #3!--and on Friday I should be able to fetch the boy from college as planned. He's halfway through now, which seems impossible. Didn't he just leave home yesterday? Do all parents feel this way?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spring is such an odd season in northern New England. It waffles back and forth between winter and and summer but rarely settles into any stretch of sweet moderation. I recall the springs in Philadelphia, where I went to college, as long and intense, an affectionate respite before the summer's humidity kicked in. But spring here is hard to depend on. Yesterday was hot; today will be 15 degrees cooler; the soil is drying out, but the nights are chilly. The small plants are struggling, and my transplants are peaked. No amount of watering seems to cheer them up.

Oh, well. At least the clothes are drying well, and I had the pleasure this morning of unfolding a crisp, clean kitchen towel smelling of air and sun.

Now that my classes are over, I am starting to reconfigure my days. My current editing projects all involve poetry and fiction, and now I have to allocate time to reading faculty collections and writing introductions for Frost Place poets. My college son will be coming home for a few weeks, and the patterns of our household will shift accordingly. The schedule says summer, even if the weather does not.

Yesterday, at the request of a kind poet, I sorted through my Chestnut Ridge poems and submitted a batch for the journal she edits. Most, if not all, have already appeared here on the blog, but otherwise they have gotten no press.

It's a kind gesture, and it adds to my welling hope for the collection and its poems . . . and I mean hope in a complicated yet grateful way. Nothing will change for me acclaim-wise; that's not what I'm trying to say. More, I'm basking in a sense of grace, a sort of aroma of celebration from people I admire and respect. That's an awkward metaphor, but I can't think of a better one. And anyway, I'm an awkward person. I'll embrace my ungainliness.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My email inbox was filled with sadness this morning--friends in the midst of change, struggles with age and despair, dissatisfaction with the paths of their lives. So now, on this dim post-holiday morning, I am feeling a bit like blotter paper, damp and stained with spilled ink. I wish I could be helpful, but all I know how to say is "Yes, it's hard," and "Keep talking to me." Perhaps those are the only possible responses anyway.

I'll be back at my desk this morning, copyediting a poetry collection, sorting poems for an invited submission, hoping to hear from the transmission guy about my car.

But the weather will be warm; I'll be able to open all of the windows; the cardinal will sing and sing in the dense maple shade. The photo at the top of this blog is the view up into my tree cathedral. Below is packed dirt and ugliness, but look up and there is glory. That description sounds like a silly metaphor for something or other, but in this case I speak the simple truth.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Yesterday may have been cold and dank, but I still hung my very first load of Portland laundry out on my new clotheslines. Of course it's still hanging there today because there was no way those towels could dry quickly in this weather. I don't care: I was happy to look out the window this morning and see them twitching in the vague breeze. I can hardly believe that I haven't hung laundry on the line for more than a year.

In other surprising news, Tom and I saw a pileated woodpecker in our yard. That was a shock: who would have expected to see the pterodactyl here in the city? In Harmony spring always meant cold laundry and the scream of the pileated in the clearing, so I take his appearance as a friendly omen . . . though Tom takes it, more sensibly, as an omen that there might be something rotten in our trees.

We did manage to buy a trimmer yesterday, a battery-powered one light enough for me to handle easily, so today I'll finish whacking down the mess of goldenrod and other assorted weeds along the stone wall. Hidden under them are few sad patches of lilies and at least one frail little peony. But basically I'm just going to have to start over with that eyesore.

Today's on-the-couch reading: Margaret Drabble's The Witch of Exmoor. Today's dinner: something involving leftovers from last night's chicken kabobs. Plus bread baking and more lovely laundry hanging, rereading my manuscript, grass mowing, a long walk, and afternoon parade noise filtering among the trees and houses.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

It will be a cool green Sunday here in Portland. We need a day-long rain but I don't think we'll be getting any. So I'll spend some time this morning rearranging my irrigation hoses, and then I'll run all of the errands I didn't run yesterday.

As it turned out, going nowhere felt like the right thing to do. I sat on the couch and finished Far from the Madding Crowd. I did some desultory laundry. I listened to baseball. I worked on the acknowledgments page for Chestnut Ridge. I studied recommendations for battery-powered string trimmers.

I've been thinking about the Hardy novel, of course. It struck me last night, as I was eating dinner, that a great theme of Far from the Madding Crowd is the power of self-respect. Gabriel, though cast down, never loses it. Bathsheba loses it and regains it. Boldwood and Troy lose it permanently and spectacularly. Hardy makes clear distinctions between notions of self-satisfaction (which everyone but Gabriel exhibits at some point) and self-respect (which only Gabriel steadily maintains). The book is not so much a love story but almost an Austen-like examination of marriage as a contract in which both parties contribute value to the partnership. In this case, niceties of class play no role in the matter; the balance point is usefulness. Bathsheba may be impulsive, but she's an excellent farmer. Gabriel, too, is an excellent farmer, and his steadiness balances her flightiness. There was no such balance her in relationships with Boldwood and Troy.

[If you haven't read the book, then this nattering is meaningless. I could apologize. Or you could read it.]

Saturday, May 26, 2018

According to the thermometer, the temperature was 86 in Portland yesterday. Yet here in this neighborhood of enormous maples, the weather was perfect . . . a warm wind, dense green shade, a torrent of birdsong with a trickle of city noise beyond. Even our ugly backyard had its charms, and the cat and I enjoyed an hour there with a glass of wine, two lawn chairs, and a Thomas Hardy novel. Tom, for his part, spent the evening tooling around Casco Bay in his boss's boat, so he had an equally fine summer celebration.

But enough of this weather talk: you are probably wondering how you got so lucky to know a woman who's gone through three transmissions in the space of a month. After much driving and fretting, the repair guys managed to get my car to replicate Wednesday's scary moment in Waterville. Flaw in the replacement transmission, they agreed. So now another is on order, with arrival scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday. The previous transmission was a low-mileage used part with a three-year warranty, and this will be another one like it . . . which is to say, I won't be paying for anything. But really: this story is getting silly.

I'm so grateful for your good cheer about Chestnut Ridge. Already two poets have agreed to write blurbs for the cover, and that is a huge weight off my mind because I hate to ask people to write blurbs. I'm considering cover photos, starting to finalize acknowledgments, and thus far it's all been a pleasure. This book has been floating for so long.

Today: more warm weather, some thunderstorms, baseball on the radio. Transplanting chard and bok choi. Acquiring a cucumber plant. Buying a string trimmer to deal with the mess of weeds along the stone wall. Best of all: putting up a clothesline.

Friday, May 25, 2018

I am so happy to announce that Deerbrook Editions will be publishing Chestnut Ridge in 2019. I am also relieved and grateful. You know how long this book has been hunting for a home--so long that I thought it might never find a landing place.

The weight off my shoulders is significant. It's funny how heavy an unpublished manuscript can become.

Now, this morning, as I stand at my desk in my green-shadowed study, waiting for the heat of the day to kick in, I am also feeling a sense of quietude that is linked, as so many things are, to my loss of the Harmony land. Although Chestnut Ridge is not set in Harmony, it was the last big project that I completed there. All of it was written at my desk in our bedroom, up the steep stairs, next to the window overlooking the autumn olive hedge and the overgrown mock-orange. I will never write another word in that room, yet every book I have published was born there.

The next manuscript, Songs about Women and Men, is a transitional collection: some poems from Harmony, some from Portland. Somehow that makes everything different, at least to me.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

. . . and the transmission saga continues.

I was an hour north of Portland, driving at 70 mph, when my car said "clunk," the transmission felt as if it had slipped into neutral, and I fortuitously managed to pull off onto an exit and call AAA to tow me home.

Apparently all is not well with the replacement transmission. But at least it is definitively covered with a warranty.

Still: ugh.

On the bright side, I slept in my own bed. And I have plenty of time to clean the house before tonight's dinner party. The question is: what party food can I buy within walking distance of my house?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Philip Roth is dead. At some point I hope to write a fuller reaction to that loss, but I have to teach this morning and then rush north for practice this afternoon, so my elegy will have to wait. Suffice it to say that my readerly relationship with Roth's work has been complicated and slightly obsessive and marked by both irritation and admiration. In other words, he has been an influence in all sorts of ways, and in fact bears a certain resemblance to John Milton in the way in which he has, despite my aggravation and resistance, wormed his way into my life.

Roth = Milton. That alone is a thought worth exploring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The sky is gray this morning, but the air over Goose Cove is clear and fogless. A lobster boat bobs in the glassy water, and beyond it lies Swan Island, an indistinct strip of vegetation and modest hills.

Yesterday we hiked up North Bubble, across to Conners Nubble, and then back along carriage trails and down alongside Jordan Pond. During the summer this particular section of Acadia will be thronged with visitors, but at the moment it is still relatively quiet. Often, when we visit Mount Desert Island, we avoid the eastern sections of the park altogether. But there's a reason visitors love these places: they are visually intense . . . long vistas of mountain and sea, cliffs hugging blue lakes, waves crashing against sharp rocks. In Acadia, the postcards of Maine come to life.

Still, the peaceable view from this cottage is more lovable. We've been coming to this quiet house on the cove for a long time . . . for at least 15 years, maybe more. Our little boys roamed the muddy beach. Our young poodle rolled ecstatically in horrible-smelling fish innards. Our friends in the main house came down to the cottage every evening for dinner.

Now the boys are grown up and far away. The poodle is dead. But our friends still come down for dinner. The bond still vibrates. I don't have my Harmony land anymore, but there are places--this cottage, Robert Frost's porch--that weave into my life story. I am lucky.

And by this evening we'll be back in Portland--doing laundry, buying groceries, getting bitten by the ireful cat. The life story goes on.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Blurred view of Frenchman's Bay, while the photographer was sitting on a rock, eating a ham sandwich, and being lightly rained on.

Later the photographer returned to the land of wi-fi and discovered that her poem "The Maine Woods" had been published in the Maine Sunday Telegram. The poem is somewhat less blurry than this photo is.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Greetings from Goose Cove, which is blanketed in mist this morning.  Beneath the fog lie one or two anchored lobster boats and a breakfasting loon. The tide is shifting noisily, a pebbled surge, but there are no dramatic rocks and breakers here. All that is on the other side of the island.

This is the view from our bedroom window, and from our little dining table, and from our screened porch. The air is cold, and a raw dampness seeps from the clouds and the shore. It is a good morning to light a wood fire and drink coffee and copy out Akhmatova poems.

Yesterday afternoon we managed to get in a four-plus-mile hike along the carriage trails that circle Witch Hole Pond. I wish I could regale you with the legend of Witch Hole, but nobody I ask seems to know anything about it. Here is a lousy photo of Duck Brook, which carves out a gorge alongside the trail, and another photo that shows one of the fancy bridges that the island's erstwhile owner, John D. Rockefeller., Jr., had built along these trails. This urge to fancy up the wilderness is called rusticating. You may find that term ironic. Nonetheless, the bridges and carriage trails are impressive.

As you can see, spring is not well advanced here at Acadia. The leaves on the trees are small, and in general winter shades prevail. Here and there a few violets bloom on the verge; an unknown-to-me purple-flowered shrub occasionally brightened the wayside. But mostly the colors were grays and browns and staid greens.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Thanks to dear friends, we're off to spend a few days in a downeast cottage by the sea. I fear the cat sitters will have their hands full with a housebound Ruckus, who will not be delighted to be stuck inside while we're gone. I hope to write to you, but I'm unsure about the current state of the cottage's internet connection, which in the past has been wonky and intermittent.

Unfortunately I've begun this weekend by losing the book I was reading. I think I left it in a coffee shop. If anyone is loafing at Arabica on Commercial Street, keep an eye out for Far from the Madding Crowd.

My goals for this weekend are Read, Walk, Visit, Cook, Stare at the Ocean, Sleep.  It would be nice to include Write in that list, but I'm not expecting it. The weather will be cool and rainy. I will be lugging a fat volume of Akhmatova's poems and whatever novel I dig out of the boxes. The mountains will loom out of the mist. The sea will crash against the rocks. The forests will glow with the rich phosphorescent green of spring. The bugs will be annoying. The gulls will scream. I will be squinting through binoculars and trying to identify blurry swimming objects. Here's hoping I can figure out what I'm looking at.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This is the view from my bedroom window--a bit blurry because of the window screen, but you get the idea. These lilacs are not mine but my neighbor's, and I am like Rapunzel's mother--fervently desiring what's on the other side of the fence. Everything in her garden is stately and established, whereas almost everything in mine is a messy wilderness, bare earth, or tiny and new.

I spent yesterday weeding, planting, and reading Thomas Hardy. It was all very bucolic. My neighborhood is ridiculously beautiful just now, and I wish my garden could keep up with the glories. But people have been so kind. Yesterday I planted some gift ginger and hosta, which will be foundations for my future shade garden. My mother loaded me with plants from her favorite Vermont nursery. My friend up north is babysitting a cranberry saved from the Harmony garden. A friend in New Hampshire is nurturing lupines grown from Harmony seeds. I am basking in their garden affections.

Still, I don't think I'll ever create a classic city plot. I want clotheslines and a woodpile. I want vegetables among the flowers. I imagine berry bushes and grape arbors. Maybe they will happen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This is a hectic week. Even as I pull things together after my long ramble with my son, I'm prepping for a weekend with Tom up at Acadia. It will be a social whirl of Frost Place friends, Maine writer friends, and old family friends, plus the pleasures of mountains and sea in the springtime. I'm excited but I'm also kind of exhausted, and I hope I can manage to do everything that needs to be done.

My plan is to devote most of today to outdoor chores. The weather will be beautiful, and I have seedlings to plant and garden beds to weed and maple saplings to murder. I've begun rereading Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd and thus I am feeling sentimental about lambing season, which in real life is hardly a sentimental subject but a long exhausting round of blood, dirt, pain, and often death. Hardy doesn't overlook those actualities, but for whatever reason my nostalgia is.

I spent yesterday afternoon working with my high school students on the final revisions of their poems and, as always, was overwhelmed by the richness of their imaginations and their experiences. Every single student in the class produced tremendous work. All of them took the task seriously. And afterwards, I walked home along the violet-edged streets, under the blooming dogwoods, alongside the fading tulips and the budding lilacs.

I live here now. And that notion is still so strange to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Greetings from Portland, Maine, where I have landed again after a week of rambling. It was so good to spend a week with my boy, but I'm still glad to be back in my own bed. It's funny how attached one can get to a particular set of pillows and sheets, even to an ancient and familiar mattress.

Today I'll immediately be rushing back into work stuff: Frost Place and editing matters, and then an afternoon in the classroom, but I hope to find a chance to potter in the garden. My mother bought me some seedlings to plant, I have a new crop of weeds and maple sprouts to wrestle, the lawn patch is hairy . . . the usual situation after a few spring rains and a week in absentia.

While on my travels, I finished Lincoln in the Bardo, which I ultimately liked a great deal. Now I need to dig out something else to read from the boxes in the dining room.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Yesterday started out in Vermont, where my two of my nephews comically pretended to be waiters and cruised around the living room taking orders for Mother's Day breakfast, and ended in Massachusetts, where my third nephew comically gave himself a Participation Award for coming in last in a card game.

In the middle, I had a sunny two-hour walk and lunch with my own sons. It's been a long time since we've all been in the same place, though we were sad we didn't also have Tom there with us.

Now I am lying in bed staring out into spring forest. The pale green maple leaves are bright against the dark conifers, and somewhere a bluejay is squawking.

I apologize for forgetting the link to the essay I posted yesterday, but it's there now. I've gotten more response than I expected to the piece, which makes me happy, of course; but rereading it this morning has also reminded me of the melancholy I lived under when I was writing it. I was so homesick.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I'm just about to hit the road again, but I wanted to quickly share this link to my essay "Lost Time," which has been posted today in Vox Populi. If you've been following my Uncle Paul/Vietnam project, you may be interested.

Talk to you soon. . . .

Saturday, May 12, 2018

This morning I woke up in frost-bitten Vermont to an email from Subaru:
Hello Dawn,
You are receiving this notice because your reimbursement in the amount of $4,354.95 has been processed and will arrive within 7 days.

Ah, the power of imploring! Thank you all so much; I would never have believed that writing a letter would have resolved the issue so thoroughly.

This morning's email was a fine complement to our cheerful road trip. Yesterday I moseyed around a plant nursery with my mom while my dad and my son went to a cider tasting. We had a lovely loud dinner with my sister and her family, and then played rude and riotous Parcheesi. Today we will watch my nephew compete in a track meet, and tomorrow little Tina the Subaru with a Free Transmission will chug us down the road to our next destinations.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I spent yesterday going hither and thither with the boy . . . hiking along the salt marshes, carting stuff to the Goodwill, that sort of thing. It feels so good to just hang out together. A phone call can never replicate casual elbow-rubbing

Today I've got a bunch of going-away prep to accomplish, a class to teach, and then a small dinner party to host for J and some of his childhood friends . . . a tiny crush of young people loudly eating fried chicken and macaroni salad. What could be better? Then tomorrow we embark on our visit-everyone-in-the-family tour. Ahead of us are card games, pie, cheering on a nephew at a track meet, and being in the same room with both of my boys on Mother's Day.

So you'll hear from me only sporadically over the next week. In the meantime, leave me a note here and tell me what you're reading and/or writing about these days.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Waking up in the morning with a son in the house = happiness.

Outside, I can see the fog hanging low over the neighborhood, one of those early morning mists that will burn off within an hour. Already the sun is shimmering, diamond-like, through its upper reaches.

Things that give me pleasure this morning (in addition to having a son in the house): Looking at the tidy arrangement in our newly painted and shelved linen closet. Drying my hands on a non-threadbare kitchen towel. I am not hard to please.

I'm continuing to move forward with Lincoln in the Bardo, finding a slow reading rhythm. Yesterday, in high school, I taught my very favorite Akhmatova poem. And oh yes!--here's some big news for all of you supportive you-should-write-a-letter-to-Subaru friends: The company's customer service tells me that my car should have been covered under an existing extended transmission warranty. Ergo, the service guy at the local dealer screwed up when he told me there wasn't one. Right now Subaru is reviewing my bill, so keep your fingers crossed because it seems possible that I may be reimbursed.

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's a rushing-around day today: first housework, then school prep, then teaching, then grocery shopping, then meeting my son at the airport, and then finally the holiday will begin.

So, in a quick response to Ruth, who spoke of trying to read Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo: It seems to me that one must don the poetry hat to read this novel. The structure feels quite familiar: it's what I did myself when working on the factual-imaginative histories that form my collection Chestnut Hill. I expect, because Saunders is a novelist, he is also manipulating innumerable plot devices, and those will likely become clearer at I get further into the book. But for now I'm coasting, as I would with poems.

This book is also reminding me of Sondheim's musical Assassins--another factual-imaginative history, very episodic and surreal even as it borrows solidly from American history.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Crabapples, forsythia, azaleas are in bloom. I have none of these plants in my garden, but that is the beauty of the city: everyone's yards are open for looking. Yesterday I weeded, bought a cucumber trellis, and planted cucumber seeds underneath it. I also planted leek seedlings, a tarragon plant, some basil plants, and some lemon grass. In the meantime, Tom installed the screen door and chainsawed some ugly little ash trees that were annoying both us and our neighbor.

This morning, before rain, I'll be bagging up brush and stacking firewood. In the afternoon, during rain, I'll be doing housework. Tomorrow evening Number 1 son arrives for a week-long visit, and we are excited. It is a terrible thing to go for months without laying eyes on one's own child.

I finished reading Tree of Smoke, which turned out to be an excellent novel with a less-than-stellar ending. Then I took a small break and reread a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel. And now I have turned my attention to George Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo. Have any of you read it?

Friday, May 4, 2018

I'll be playing music tonight in South Portland, at the Sea Dog Brewing Company, 8-11 p.m.--sitting in with the singer Troy Youngblood, who recently moved to Maine from Florida and has a huge and amazing blues voice. Sunny Stutzman will also be sitting in, on sax and harmonica. It will be an improvisational night as we don't regularly play together, but it will be fun. You should come hang out; Troy's voice will amaze you.

Until then, I'll be devoting the day to bundling together various loose ends. Yesterday I shipped my giant editing project to the author, so I have a bit of breather before tackling the next manuscripts. Today I'll be sorting out Frost Place stuff, running a few errands, prepping for class next week . . . that kind of thing. On Monday our Chicago son will fly into Portland, and after spending a couple of days here, he and I will head out on a mother-and-son-visit-the-family road trip. I'm so looking forward to spending all this time with him, but I've got to get myself organized.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Yesterday, during my high school poetry class, the lead teacher opened the session with 10 minutes of free-writing from this prompt: "Today I am. . . . " I am often not inspired by prompts; in fact, I often actively despise them. But in class I always try to make myself go with the flow, so I sat down and opened my notebook and started writing. This is what came out.
Today I am having a hard time not running out to my garden every 5 minutes to see what's growing. I am so excited to be planting again. Already my peas are up and yesterday we had baby lettuce at dinner, and now my tulips are in bloom, and there is a cardinal nesting in a neighbor's lilac bush, and I am so relieved to have my hands in the dirt again--and yet when I walk back into my house and pick up a book or a pencil, even that interior world feels richer now, as if the dirt under my fingernails is a kind of magical powder and the words dance and the thoughts cohere and suddenly being a writer makes sense--I don't feel like I have to explain, "Oh, I used to be a poet, but then the poems disappeared"--no, here they are again--gifts like sunshine and spring and a cat blinking his eyes in a warm wind and the scent of hyacinths and the sound of that cardinal singing his joy.
Now, this all sounds very nice and hopeful, but it is not entirely true. I have no evidence that the cardinal is nesting in a lilac bush, though certainly he and his mate are nesting somewhere in the neighborhood. And that coy declaration about becoming a writer again, and feeling all happy about dancing words and such: that is . . . well, not entirely bosh, given that I did construct a decent poem draft this week, but I am in no way living the ethereal writer-life that my prompt response claims.

Why did this semi-specious paean burst from my pen? Why do such fabrications force themselves into the air? I can't say that my response was a lie--I am happy to be gardening; I am writing more productively than I was; a cardinal does sing in my back yard--but there is considerable embroidery.

If I were trying to revise this passage in an essay, I would take stock of my exaggerations and think about how to mold them into a response that would be more complex and less directly sentimental. At the same time, of course, I would be creating/re-creating a persona, which, in essays as in fiction, means that I would be deliberately highlighting and eliding and otherwise manipulating your gaze. So in that sense, this first draft is simply a rough outline of the kind of control a non-journalistic writer exerts over explorations of memory and reaction.

Still, there's a raw falseness that I find unnerving, and I meet it in nearly every first draft I produce. I wonder if you, too, have some version of this experience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Today the temperature is supposed to hurtle into the mid-80s, and to celebrate Tom and I are going to a baseball game after work. In the meantime, I'll be teaching, working on Frost Place stuff, waiting for editing instructions, planting a sage seedling, and opening all the windows.

I've been copying out Akhmatova's poem cycle "Requiem," which is a brutal delineation of how it felt to be the mother of a son imprisoned during Stalin's terrors. I've been reading Johnson's Tree of Smoke, which is an epic set in the chaos of Vietnam. Somehow my reading has been co-opted by dread. Yet I'm drafting my own quiet poem about ghosts. It feels watered-down, immaterial, to be a writer without a tragic subject. It feels like an accidental stroke of fate to be a living, un-terrified body.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Before I got into bed last night I stood at the bedroom window gazing down into the empty street flooded with full-moonlight and cloud shadow. The angled roofs, the brilliance of the light, the velvet dark--all were shockingly beautiful. But there was also an intense brevity. Everything--my watching, the moon's arc, the threads of cloud--was in motion. And I realized, for the first time, that where I live now--this tidy neighborhood of tulips and bicycles--might now and then erupt into a wild land.