The air is a mill of hooks--
Questions without answer,
Glittering and drunk as flies
Whose kiss stings unbearably
In the fetid wombs of black air under pines in summer.
The dead smell of sun on wood cabins,
The stiffness of sails, the long salt winding sheets.
Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?
Once one has been seized up
Without a part left over,
Not a toe, not a finger, and used,
Used utterly, in the sun's conflagrations, the stains
That lengthen from ancient cathedrals
What is the remedy?
The pill of the Communion tablet,
The walking beside still water? Memory?
Or picking up the bright pieces
Of Christ in the faces of rodents,
The tame flower-nibblers, the ones
Whose hopes are so low they are comfortable--
The humpback in his small, washed cottage
Under the spokes of the clematis.
Is there no great love, only tenderness?
Does the sea
Remember the walker upon it?
Meaning leaks from the molecules.
The chimneys of the city breathe, the window sweats,
The children leap in their cots.
The sun blooms, it is a geranium.
The heart has not stopped.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
What leads us to believe there is superiority in our misery? What makes our hurt worse than others, our burdens harder to bear? Isn’t it the same kind of vanity that tells us we are smarter/prettier/better than others? Unquestionably, there are degrees of misery in different kinds of lives, but aren’t we all damaged? We all have been through the fire. Not one of us has escaped whole and unharmed. We are all disfigured now. The question becomes what will you do with this destruction. What you become every day is up to you; as Sylvia Plath wrote: “…each day demands we create our whole world over.” No one has the monopoly on misery. We all get tired from time to time of the chore of moving on, of plowing through what feels like air swarming with ghosts. I suppose more of the people I have loved are dead now than are living, but I do not take that as permission to stop loving the ones who are left. Sylvia Plath also wrote: “Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.” Find that one absolutely beautiful thing, whatever it may be to you, and live for it. As long as your heart is beating, you owe a debt of gratitude to whatever god-force gave you life. Keep your hopes low, and you will at least be comfortable.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I finished Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King last week and need to blog about it, but I started reading The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant and haven't been able to put it aside long enough to do any blogging. It's been quite a while since I've read a compelling page-turner type of book, so I am enjoying myself, even if blogging is getting behind. Here are some pictures of my other hobby that is taking me away from the computer. Disclosure: I did not take these beautiful shots; my daughter took them on Mother's Day as we worked in the garden.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I finished two books this week: Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel and Incantation by Alice Hoffman. At first glance, these two books seem to be very dissimilar: one a biography written for adults and one a work of fiction written for a mostly teenage-girl audience. One important similarity between the books, however, occurred to me. Both teach the dangers of religion run amok. Both exhibit the damage that religion did in Europe for hundreds of years.
The church persecuted and imprisoned Galileo for recognizing and teaching the truth. In Incantation, the main character's family is killed by the church during the Spanish Inquisition for remaining true to their Jewish identity. The great irony to me in both of these examples lies in the church's persecuting and punishing people for speaking and living the truth, while continuing to teach the lessons of the ten commandments, at least one of which, I believe, addresses honesty.