Tuesday, April 22, 2008

what is etched in veins: wild with all regret

"In wildness is the preservation of the world." --Thoreau

"In the song of the Mockingbird, Walt Whitman hears love-sickness, wild with all regret, and he greets the bird as 'my darling demon.'" --Bedichek

"Every year the tempo of leaf-gumming accelerated furiously toward Tu bi-Shevat, the fifteenth of the month of Shevat: the New Year for the Trees...All we knew was that to create a Jewish forest was to go back to the beginning of our place in the world..." --Shama

"Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun even, but I can’t think about them. I live with the trees. There are creatures that live under our feet, creatures that live over our heads, but trees live quite convincingly in the same filament of air we inhabit…they abide." --Annie Dillard

And so I walk away, tender with that same old ache of longing. What have we talked about: nothing of any importance. In my hand I hold a smattering of words, dry leaves rattling over the red earth, but I covet them, skeletons all, for the veins etched like a treasure map into what once was an open palm, what once was flesh.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


for y.
lately it has been all about images reflected, in eyes, in glass, in water. a tiny book inscribed with words that erupted like birds in the heart, a landscape reflected in an alternate, foreign landscape, a landscape carving its way into another landscape.

I would speak of this in terms of veins on arms that I love, or in pulsing leaves at dawn when the stars are already fading, or in the quiet breathing of a child. i am unsure, uncertain, hesitant, hungry.

i am mapping all this somewhere, in memory, or in topography--terrains unspoken, but possibly coded in a single resonant note on the guitar, or a trumpet in a cafe where I stood in the parking lot listening.

does no one love any more? does no one stop for the the trumpet or the shudder of grass, or the flashing, disembodied light on the surface of a graffitied subway train

when you wrote Milosz's words, our house is always open, I thought it was written:

our house is always open
there are no keys in the doors
and invisible forests come in and out

not guests, but forests, landscapes, moving in us, moving through us

Thursday, April 3, 2008

zeus under glass

Zeus was tended by gentle nymphs and was nursed by the fairy goat Amaltheia...

Years ago I would take the kids down to the creek behind the Elisabet Ney museum to search for treasure. Specifically, it was (and is) a severed, limestone hand, whose I don't now, akin perhaps to Camille Claudel's exquisite sculpted foot that first enamored Rodin.

I am not clear about my deep connection to this place, except for certain evocative fragments, beside the veined hand: that she kept her husband, a philosopher, in the turret, that she lived a life chiseled out of clean, hard passion (her own), and that once, or twice, I enticed someone to scale the walls and share a bottle of wine on the second-floor balcony (not an easy accomplishment, and not sure one I could accomplish again--who am I kidding, of course I could, and would)

In my twenties I was walking the deserted pre-dawn streets of Hyde Park and caught a glimpse of an elderly woman taking her tea in a wing-backed wicker chair-- How odd, I thought, to have dragged that chair to the West patio of the Ney before dawn to take tea.

One fall I took a figure sculpting class at the museum, and I clearly recall the exhilaration of feeling like God himself as my fingers slid over the smooth surface of the clay, crafting a woman not so unlike the one that held remarkably still for over an hour as we struggled to see her with our hands. By the end of the six weeks, I knew her contours better than my own. So different, though, I imagine the process of slowly chipping away the sinuous form from cold stone, trying to see through the inanimate mineral into flesh.