Thursday, February 26, 2015

what remains after a little taste of sugar


"I was thinking. Remember the night I used our last sugar to make that batch of divinity, and dragged all the boys in after bedtime to eat it?"

"Kind of saved the day," Ray said. "Took the edge off ever'body." 

"Kind of left us starving for sugar, too..."  

from "Carrion Spring" by Wallace Stegner


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

little disturbances



"By day the labor and the cold and the stiffness of many hours in the saddle, the bawling of calves, the crackle and crunch of hooves and wheels, the reluctant herded movement of two or three hundred cows and calves and six dozen horses, all of whom stopped at every patch of grass blown bare and had to be whacked into moving again. By night the patient circling ride around the herd, the exposure to stars and space and the eloquent speech of the wolves, and finally the crowded sleep.

Nothing between them and the stars, nothing between them and the North Pole, nothing between them and the wolves, except a twelve by sixteen house of cloth so thin that every wind moved it and light showed through it and the shadows of men hulked angling along its slope, its squinting glimpses of the stars. The silence gulped their little disturbances, their little tinklings and snorings and sighs and the muffled noises of discomfort and weariness. The earth and the sky gaped for them like opened jaws; they lay there like lozenges on a tongue, ready to be swallowed."

from "Genesis" by Wallace Stegner

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

across the lake


"When he chopped through the river's inch of ice and watched the water well up and overflow the hole it seemed like some dark force from the ancient heart of the earth that could at any time rise around them silently and obliterate their little human noises and tracks and restore the plain to its emptiness again."

from "Genesis" by Wallace Stegner

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

devoting one's life

it was february. i decided to walk out into the pines. there was nothing else to say but, this will take some time; be good, find joy, live life; i knew you once, as well as was possible.



A Post-Impressionist Susurration for the First of November, 1983 by Hayden Carruth

Does anything get more tangled or higgeldy-piggeldy than the
     days as they drop all jumbled and
One by one on the historical heap? Not likely. And so we are all, in
     spite of ourselves, jackstraw diarists.
This afternoon we went walking on the towpath of the Erie Canal,
     which was strangely
Straight and narrow for our devious New England feet. Yet it was
     beautiful, a long earthen avenue
Reaching far ahead of us into the gossamer veils that hung
     everywhere in folds, oaks clinging to their dark leaves,
Bare maples in their many shades of gray, the field of goldenrod
     gone to seed and burnt-out asters,
Sumac with dark cones, the brown grasses, and at the far edge,
     away from the canal,
A line of trees above which towered three white pines in their
     singular shapes.
I have never seen a white pine growing naturally that was not
     unique and sculpturesque.
Why should one not devote one's life to photographing white
      pines, as Bentley of Jericho
Spent his photographing snowflakes? But it's too late, of course.
     At all events the colors,
Not forgetting cattails and milkweed, dock and sorbaria, ferns and
     willows and barberries,
Were a nearly infinite variety of soft tones, the subtle tones,
     made even more indistinct
In their reflections in the greenish water on the canal. And a light
     breeze was blowing.
For once I will risk the word zephyr, which is right and which
     reminds me of sapphire,
And I realize beneath all these colors lay an undertone of blue,
     the gentle sky as it curls
 Below the penumbra of vision. A small yellow butterfly tricked its
     way across the brown field beside us,
And I thought to myself, Where in the hell did you come from? Last
     night was a hard frost.
And then I knew it had been born this day, perhaps a moment ago,
     and its life was flickering, flickering out in our presence,
As we walked with our hands in a lovers' clasp on the straight
     towpath beside the canal that made us think
Of France, of tumbling autumn days, of hundreds and hundreds
     and hundreds of loves and visions.
Sometimes Cindy is half ill, sometimes more than half, because she
     doesn't know as much
As people she envies. She writes poems about not knowing, about
     the anguish over knowledge,
And when I was her age I felt the same way. I know that anguish.
     I used to be pained especially
Because I could not name the colors I saw, and I envisioned painters
     their knowledge of pigments,
I studied the charts of colors and I looked up the names—mallow,
     cerise—in the dictionary,
I examined the meanings of hue, shade, tone, tint, density,
     saturation, brilliance, and so on,
But it did no good. The eye has knowledge the mind can not share,
     which is why painters
So often are inarticulate. Is the eye ignorant, uneducated? How
     absurd. That would be impossible.
Hence I became eventually, gradually, unashamed of my mind's
     incapacity, just as I had once written
Poems to be read many times, but what was the use of that? Now
     I write poems to be read once and forgotten,
Or not to be read at all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

passenger





the fox retreats
yet i follow 
always apart, never together
the fox takes me further into the world

Sunday, February 15, 2015