Friday, February 19, 2021

 It's snowing lightly--a dust of feathers as I slip and slither down the icy driveway with my compost pail. Upstairs the cat is yowling to get into Paul's room; downstairs Tom is packing his lunch and cooking his breakfast. In the cellar the washing machine churns, and I am pausing here, with my cup of coffee and my to-do list, to consider the crows clamoring invisibly in the pre-dawn gloaming, the books on the table (the poems of Robert Frost, the essays of Virginia Woolf, a collection of historical maps of Canada, some crossword puzzles), the awfulness of my spiked-up bed-head hair, and the distant neighborhood grumble of the garbage truck, which has suddenly decided to pick up trash at 6 a.m. instead of 6 p.m.

Today I'm hoping mostly to focus on figuring out what I want to include in my next poetry manuscript . . . and by mostly I mean "for an hour before Paul gets up." Otherwise, I suppose it will be a regular day of underemployment: trying to get ahead with Frost Place planning, hoping some paychecks will arrive in the mail, listening to Paul explain something-or-other sportsy to me (NFL draft picks, NCAA rankings, the magnificent history of Hank Aaron), washing salt smears off the kitchen floor, emailing people about jobs.

I thought I would be enjoying these Woolf essays more than I am. I've read them all before, but somehow in this curated context they come across as extremely judgy, in ways that aren't particularly charming. However, I do like her description in "Character in Fiction" of "the obscurity of Mr [T. S.] Eliot":

I think that Mr Eliot has written some of the loveliest lines in modern poetry. But how intolerant he is of the old usages and politenesses of society--respect for the weak, consideration for the dull! As I sun myself upon the intense and ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a dizzy and dangerous leap to the next, and so on from line to line, like an acrobat flying precariously from bar to bar, I cry out, I confess, for the old decorums, and envy the indolence of my ancestors who, instead of spinning madly through mid-air, dreamt quietly in the shade with a book.

1 comment:

nancy said...

It is now officially February break! No more 6-8 hours on Zoom! No more desperately enthusiastic juggling in front of an array of black boxes! Yahoo!