Saturday, April 18, 2009


Sitting on the back deck in silence at dusk, I am watched warily by the wrens who have come back again this year to build their nest above the ceiling fan. They hover nearby, but when I lower my eyes they dash furtively to the nest and out again. If I stay long enough, or lie down and close my eyes, they will begin to ignore me, but right now they are still suspicious.

Male and female wrens work together in nest building They sing different parts of the same song, usually interweaving their songs such that they sound like a single bird singing.

“The concept of maternity,” writes Bedichek. “thus daily enriched, sinks in and becomes a part of the developing child and affects his thoughts and emotions deeply for all time. Bergson comments with a striking figure of speech on the significance of maternal love. He conceives of all life as motion which possesses the consciousness most convincing as the operation of maternal love is observed in nature. ‘It shows each generation,’ he says, ‘leaning over the generation that shall follow. It allows us a glimpse of the fact that the living being is above all a thoroughfare, and that the essence of life is in the movement that is transmitted.’”

There was champagne, and brioche, and then the discussion of the sons, and then the invitation to the sons (sent via cell phone) to join us at brunch. They arrived, they ate little, and we asked the questions that had to be asked and expressed our concern. Who were we to them at that moment, I do not know. As strange of beings as they are now to us, impossible to hold, we must seem to them, something antiquated, something outdated, like so many Routes 66. The living being, as Bergson says, is, after all, but a thoroughfare. I was a road through which he travelled to ultimately arrive where he will arrive. Where that is, I cannot know.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Giambattista Nolli, Interactive Nolli Map


you are back, sort of, and I have missed you and your images & syllables.

I will tell you about a time when I was very ill. Later they would say it was meningitis, but at the time I only knew it as hell. I fell ill while reading the story of Julia "Butterfly" Hill and how she staked herself out in a very tall tree, called Luna, which was to be cut down by a logging company. During the time that the tree was wracked by a storm, I pitched in the sheets with a fever and hallucinated for days over the drama of the woman in the tree.

When I recovered I was changed and am changed and have since found myself in somewhat perpetual grieving over the accretive effects of civilization and the erosion of nature. I am in that shuddering tree every day, afflicted with some madness of urban discontent.

Your thoughts on Italy stirred me. There has been for so long in me a profound affection for civilization, at least in terms of Michaelangelo and Leonardo. The Nolli map of Rome has been a cherished icon, the spaces carved out by human desire, the slow wearing down of stone beneath flesh.

But the struggling vegetation stirs me now. The wildflowers, mentioned by Bedichek, which he noticed springing up after the bombing of London, where no flower had been for a hundred years.

That the seeds had lain fallow for so long. So silent, not stirring, yet erupting at the mere suggestion of uninhabited (by human) space.

Yesterday we stopped for a moment by the overburdens to look at the cottonwood trees that had sprung up from the sand. The trees were growing vigorously with little rain in these forsaken piles of earth. I thought of Robert Frost:

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,

The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.