September 30 - 21, 2001
September 30, 2001
My own life is on hold while I put up the Poet's Profile and start doing Open Mic.
September 29, 2001
Well, the saga of the hot water heater continued. Soon Werner got the idea that it would be faster to empty the container with a hose than to keep sopping up the slow leakage spreading out over the linoleum. He was mechanic enough to hook the garden hose up to the little spigot at the bottom of the tank. Somehow he thought only of draining the water into a bucket which he would carry outside. He called to me to bring him a second bucket when the first one threatened to overflow. I hate being called away when I am composing and the idea that he would not simply close the hose and get a second bucket filled me with righteous indignation. I said not a word while I got the second bucket, but a banner of disgust billowed around me. He reassured me he could handle the rest of the job himself. While I tried to type I could hear him opening the patio door to carry out one bucket while the other one filled. As the trips outside continued I could not sit calmly at the computer while he worked just down the hall from me.
When I saw how tired he was getting, I abandoned my work to help him. My flowers never got such a watering as buckets full of water went into the boxes. We usually have to conserve our water so they only the very least they really need in the containers. When I got tired of carrying out buckets, I got the idea of just sticking the hose out the patio door (duh!) and letting the water carry itself outside.
After lunch we were shocked to find out that water was still draining from the vessel and that one of the copper tubes was very hot. We ran outside to check that I had indeed turned the switch on the fuse box for the water heater. Where was this heat coming from?
I called the plumber again. The lady answering the phone admitted that she was only taking the place of the regular secretary who was on vacation. She had no knowledge of plumbing things and no contact with any of the guys were out on jobs and she had no idea of what to do. She promised to call back as soon as one made contact with her.
Werner and I are both mechanical idiots, yet we each sincerely believe that each of us is smarter than the other in these situations. Plus, having anything that doesn’t work properly drives each of us nuts. So we would each try to ‘fix’ the problem or at least do our best to remedy it until help came (not promised until after six). This meant we our combined intelligences would collide with a painful bang. To preserve our sanity we would agree to agree to withdraw and wait for the professional. But as soon as we were in our private spaces one or the other would think of something new to try or feel the need to mop up more water, or spread the rugs and rags in the sun, or just fuss with thinking of something else to try.
We began to fear that somehow the water running outside from the tank would drain away the precious water in our underground storage tanks; especially now in autumn when our reserves are at their lowest. After many words trying to prove who was smarter or who knew better how to take care of ourselves, we decided to just shut off all the water to the house. This stopped the water draining so fast from the hot water heater but did not stop the leakage around the tank. So one or the other of us was constantly going into the utility room checking this. If I got busy trying to do my work and Werner mopped, I would feel guilty that I had failed to keep an eye on the problem and go to help him. He did not need my help and felt he knew best how to mop the floor. I knew best how to wring out the rags and how to position and blah, blah, blah we were tangled up again.
Unable to keep my mind on what was before me, I picked up my sewing project from the previous evening. Still unable to buy an American flag, I had gotten fabric to do the Betsy Ross bit. It was obvious my mind was not on the creation of the dear old Star-Spangled Banner.
sewing a flag
my skin stitched
to the seam
I was really quite proud of my flag. I had gotten fabric with red and white stripes so I would not have to sew all those seams (I do not have a sewing machine and do all my work by hand). There was an old navy blue sheet that many years ago had been the object of some mouse’s desires for nesting material. I had made a tiny stamp of a star and stamped white ink on the blue field. Yet my flag had one extra star.
the new-made flag
has a spot of blood
Finally the secretary at plumbers’ central called and told me that if we shut off all the hot water faucets in the house, we could turn on our water and use cold water until the new heater arrived late Monday. We did this and Werner went outside to turn on the water again. I was standing by the hot water heater and heard a gush and a rush of water into the tank. We each ran around the house making sure our dial-type faucets were correctly spun. Who had turned a faucet the wrong way? and who left one undone? I was shocked how insecure we were with following this simple instruction. Somehow as Werner stood looking at the water heater in disbelief, he put his hand up by the incoming pipes and felt the one was too hot to touch. How could this be when the electricity had been off since morning? Was something still heating, still burning within the tank? Impossible!
Now, in a dazed panic I called the secretary again. I pleaded with her to send someone out to look at this. She complained that none of the guys would be back until after six, it was Friday night, and no one would want to work any later. I pleaded with her to send someone as soon as she could as we were scared and had passed over our limits of understanding the water system.
To be safe while we waited, we turned off the water again, and prepared to live the weekend without it. I had loaned our bedside commode to a friend, so I had to call her, explain our situation, listen to her excuses why she had not returned the clo earlier and send Werner off to collect it. As the afternoon wore on I was more tired, more sick and less inclined to be calm. Even the Buddha hid in the closet to stay out of the fray. I took a tranquillizer and laid on the couch to read Virginia Woolf’s letters (vol. 5) which usually lulls me to sleep fairly quickly. Just as I was at that sweet point of slipping over the edge into oblivion, a truck pulled onto the gravel of the driveway. Thank goodness it was Joe, who had seen us through so many other watery disasters.
He calmly explained that the hot pipe happened because when we turned on cold water, hot water still in the pipes was pulled back into the water heater. And there was no way we could really drain the tank unless the two pipes were joined. Within minutes he had established a new connection, got the drain hose hooked up, fixed it so air could get into the tank forcing out the water was that was in it. And he promised when he put in the new water heater, he would put a pan under it so the water ran directly outdoors if it had a problem.
Finally, I could forget about water and the science of living intimately with it. I dawdled my tired brain with crocheting until it was time to go to bed. I had conveniently forgotten that the only shower would be a cold one. People make jokes about ‘taking a cold shower’ but I can tell you it is a very painful experience! Only when I was thoroughly numb could I let the water run everywhere it needed to be and then not for very long.
September 28, 2001
I think I am getting a message from the ‘higher spirits’ but so far I have not yet solved the puzzle with which they are communicating.
A week ago I felt the gut pain that introduces another of my chronic episodes of a bladder infection. Hoping to head it off with herbs, I began with uvi ursi and vitamin C. By Tuesday my sinuses were painful and swollen so I went off to RCMS, the local medical center. How the nurse laughed when I described my added symptom of the swollen sinus. "I’ve heard of ‘having your back teeth swimming’ but things must really be backed up to affect your sinus!" I easily talked Lois into a prescription for the one anti-biotic that seems best for me (and old and gentle one) and already knew the one druggist who carries it and the other one who does not so I knew where to go to save us driving from town to town.
Then on Wednesday night we noticed our pump was rapidly clicking on and off whenever we used water. We have lived here with individual water systems long enough to realize the pressure tank needed it’s bladder re-inflated.
Yesterday, while I was in the garage putting a neck on the newest pot, Joe showed up to fix the tank. His diagnosis was that he could make work better, but what we really needed was a new pressure tank. $400. Whatever. We could limp along with the present tank until Monday (the earliest a new one could be delivered), we thought. And in fact, the pump runs a lot less now.
This morning when I came downstairs just minutes after Werner I could not find him. He was kneeling on the kitchen floor pushing the rugs around. The rusty water seemed to be coming from the hot water heater in the utility room which was also under water.
For an hour we mopped, squeezed and slopped up the water. Ugly animals swollen with water were pulled from under the refrigerator. The missing mouse toys Buddha had lost were slowly coming to light. All I could be thankful for was that the floor sloped toward the patio instead of the carpeting. The hot water heater has a 52 gallon tank and even though Werner was quick enough to turn off the water into it, the water continues to dribble out. We have a sodden dam of towels and rugs around it but they need to be wrung out every fifteen minutes. Werner just took this turn to let me type here.
The anti-biotic makes me feel weak, hot and sweaty – light-headed and sick. The idea of no hot shower until Monday evening makes me feel stinky, creepy and crawly. The idea of a cold shower gives me chills.
However, I am very happy with the two new coil-pots I am making (another water reference) and hope that by afternoon I will have enough energy to go out to finish the last one before I collapse in a sodden puddle of healing and recovery.
September 25, 2001
As I walked into the small wooden medical center in Gualala, a man hurried up the walk passing my "I know I am fifteen minutes early for my appointment" saunter. At the receptionist’s desk I caught up with him just as he was asking, "Which room is my daughter in?" and that quickly doors opened and he was gone. Looking around the waiting room I saw three teen-aged girls flanked by mothers. I wondered if there had been an accident at the school that they should be here in the middle of the morning. Yet they all seemed well and normal and to be just waiting.
Only when I heard strange words coming from the opposite side of the room did I look up from my book (All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West – a poorly written best-seller from 1932 in the UK). I began to listen to the one girl, the prettiest one who had everyone’s attention as she played to the audience. She was placing her fingers to her beautifully formed face, framed by her fuchsia dyed hair, and saying these words that were familiar to my ear but very non-English. As I listened more closely, and clear across the room, I realized she was naming the bones of her body. The two other girls, one with braces and one with pigtails, listened and watched her rapt in complete admiration. Their eyes drank in every movement she made as if learning a circuitry of behavior. She would make little jokes, little winks to include them, bending toward them and then running her hands down her long slim thighs while graciously accepting their adoring giggles. From her monologue (no one else was given a chance to say anything – she was completely in command) I understood she was sophomore and the other two girls were freshmen. I had forgotten how much one year and the confidence beauty gives could differentiate between school children.
As the minutes of our common waiting added up, I was torn between watching the scene across the room or trying to read the bad book or staring out the window into the sunshine where I wished I was. The pretty girl’s voice got louder as she acknowledged that now everyone, young or old, in the room was her audience. She was so bold she would get up to act out the little scenes she was describing. Without wanting to know so much of her life I could not help listening to her portray how she and her friends would do "dares". They seemed harmless enough: walking up to a boy and while staring him straight in the eye drop all their books or writing love letters to boys and signing other girl’s names. But when she began to describe how she flirted with "the class nerd", when I heard the peals of laughter from the other two girls I began to feel uncomfortable. Recalling my high school days, I knew what the "nerd" looked like and even felt like. As the girl continued to roll her beautiful brown eyes, cross her arms under her high perfect breasts outlined by her hot-pink sweater I identified more and more with the ugly kid in the class. Suddenly her act was no longer funny to me. I kept wishing her fat mother who sat next to her would divert her attention, or even interrupt her with the idea that it was not right to make fun of others and to treat them in this way. The other mother knitting away on a baby sweater put her head down over her needles as if she was embarrassed or lacked courage.
For a moment, there was an urge within me to speak out and to say something that would stop her. Yet the old peacemaker in me failed to come up with the right words. As I was still trying to figure out what the proper action for me to take was, the girl was called in to see the doctor. So the urge to make a change only stayed with me.
Now left alone, the two freshmen girls came over to the children’s corner to play with the toys. There they found a plastic basket of blocks. How delighted they were when they had enough to spell out ‘her’ name – Mandie. Another school disaster in the making.
September 24, 2001
It is raining! Our first rain of the winter. Even in the dark I can hear the rain falling. Around the lighted house it carries the sound of scratched clay. On the windows are matching rivulets. It is if some great hand was drawing vertical lines around my life.
behold this little bane
we thirst at first – it’s nature’s act
summer we have seen
and the root of wind is water
no act is made without a cause
In the afternoon when I got to the top of the ridge to Brandywine Ranch for the clay class, I stood on the knoll looking westward. The roiling black clouds were at eye-level and below as they swirled in from the south. Overhead was the pearl gray layer of fog in which we had lived for most of the month. I watched our fog, our days, rising, arching like a cornered cat as the storm came to clear out our air. Justin, who was supposed to be painting boards for the new addition, stood before the scene, also with his mouth agape. As we breathed we were taking the winter upon us – joyfully, willingly happy in the moment.
home is where you are
where even roses dare to go
a joy without stem
whole gulfs of red – fleets of red
that stood on heights I could see
To Justin’s delight, it was only minutes before the first big drops heralding the change fell to the dusty ground. Indoors and outdoors was divided by rain. The studio seemed small, dusty and crowded with the darkness. The women continued to smooth their clay pots and talk about their gardens, but Justin sat at the motionless wheel staring out at the sky. I bought one of his pitchers and he apologized for forgetting to sign it. He also forgot to pocket the check. But he understood watching the sky give up its shower.
Back home, back down at sea level, the rain had not yet arrived. Out over the water one could see the ragged veils of dark blue in patches of fury but the powder fine dirt here was still unmarked. There was closeness, a warmth in the air as if someone was standing right beside one. Occasionally there was a rumble from the sea. We did not know if it was far thunder or if the incoming waves were arching their backs to thrown themselves down on the water with a crash that made the cliffs shudder.
On a whim we decided to take our walk even if we got wet, while thinking that the rain was surely still a half-hour away. But it wasn’t. Just as we got to the foot of the hill the first drops began to splash down around us. We turned back, but laughing that all we had to do to keep dry was to walk between the tiny cups of water. By the time we got to the dip in the road over the gully, it was raining real rain and I heard a sound as if the winter creek was already flowing.
the first raindrops fall
on willow leaves
As we walked, now as fast as we could, rain was gathered by our foreheads to wash our faces. Our eyes stung as if from tears. It was tempting to hurry our steps toward home, but now we were wet we decided might as well slow down to enjoy the baptism. Smells from the asphalt road rose to fill our noses with that familiar wet-dry fragrance. We saw the weeds and grasses which had grown up not knowing rain bend their heads to the newness. There was a quickening, an aliveness falling out of the sky, bringing life in round transparent drops of rain. Winter seemed filled with hope.
September 23, 2001
Last night was the meeting of our drumming circle and with one white rose in a vase we discussed the one and only subject. I was agonizing about the thought of these over six thousand persons dying in terror, shock and fear (not a ‘good’ way to die) and what it meant for their families to know this and for most of them, to not even have the remains of a body to which to make their good-byes. But most of all, I was disturbed by the loss of innocence of the dead.
I expressed my idea that we needed to grieve for the dead even if we knew none of them. One person asked if I meant we should be sad. I worked very hard to make a difference between grieving (showing our love and our thanks to these souls) and sadness. I did not want us to sink into sadness, and deeper into resignation or retaliation. And yet we do associate sadness with grieving.
One person remarked that according to some theories of life and death, we make contracts before manifesting into this life to carry out certain tasks – our destinies. And these people had contracted to give their lives so that our consciousness could make a necessary shift that our planet needs to make. At first I was horrified with the idea and it took me a while to let the thought sink into me. The longer I thought, I realized that we all must die and if our death can bring some ‘good’ then I would want that also.
The group decided that for our journey we would we ask how we as individuals should proceed with our own lives. Everyone stretched out on the floor and one person, the best drummer, began the rhythm. Even as I kept my question in my mind above my slower breathing, I was thinking that surely Oleo would take me to Zacarius and I would get some lesson from the higher realms. I walked into the cave lined with amethyst crystals and descended to the meadow where Oleo stood waiting for me. I greeted him with the gravity of my question. To my utter surprise he stood on his hind legs, stretched out his forepaws and began to prance. He was dancing and his eyes were inviting me to dance with him. This was something I never would have imagined him to do as he is usually so reserved, so contained, so superior. After we had danced with such wild abandon that we both became breathless, I told him I was concerned about the recent dead – how it was with them, how they were. He turned his head off to the left as he looked upward. There I saw a great circle of shining beings made of light. They were grouped together; securely holding on to each other. "They are taking care of each other, even though they were strangers on earth. How can that be?" I asked.
"In the same way that strangers came together on earth to help others, they have banded together, bonded by their common objective."
Returning to my own feelings, I began to express the amount of fear I had experienced in the past weeks. In my eagerness to let Oleo how afraid I had felt, I grabbed the hair of his mane and began to pound my head against his chest. When I quieted enough to listen, he said, "Do you realize where you are?" Here I was yanking on a lion who with one bite could end my life!" I am always in the jaws of death! Nothing has changed! Every second of life is on the brink of that transformation known as death.
I felt I did not want any more information, so I just laid there listening to the drum. The sound took on the shape of a hollow ball. The sound was the skin of the ball. It moved across space toward me. To my surprise it entered the hollow place within me which had been carved out by the feelings of sadness, terror and horror. I felt the hole the event had torn open in me was filled with the energies of the drum and the drummer and it felt good, whole and accepting.
As I heard the riff to return to this level, I began to thank Oleo for his help and his lessons. He reached out his huge paw with those great curved claws hanging down and gently patted me on the top of my head. Only one other time had he done this – when I had done a soul retrieval of a part of me on a terrible journey.
September 23, 2001
Have you ever tried to walk on scree? That’s the rubble mountains throw down around themselves as ruffled skirt. To walk up a field of scree your feet sink in so every step has to be made two or three times. To walk down such rollable rubble is to invite an avalanche or the sudden feeling of roller skating. That’s the way I feel today. Yesterday I worked out in the garage on the new big clay pot even while I was cold and the south wind was blowing clouds of fog around me. Now everything in me wants to have a cold and I am yelling, "No, no, no." as I swing my arms in great arcs taking herbs and vitamins.
Our cold foggy summer stays with us over the lip of autumn. The snowy egrets and pelicans are so tired of the freezing damp that they now come up on the meadows in an attempt to dry their feet and feathers. The little light that comes through the clouds is gathered by the dried grasses of the downs and, like indicators of warmth, the birds come closer to us for this comfort. Even the memorial candle here on my desk seems a source of warmth.
Maybe I can entertain you with parts of a letter from MB on 9/20/01:
Your work on Lynx is magnificent. I sent copies of it to all my friends and local poets I know. I wonder how you do it all, your writing, your editing, all of it.
I would be honored, of course, if you would like to share our letters on your blog. What an interesting idea. I have always been in love with journal writing and letter writing, too; I feel that it truly opens up your deepest layers of creativity. Have you read Christine Baldwin's Journal Writing books and, of course, Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal Workshop? Both wonderful.
My friend (Jauneth Skinner) who illustrated my broadside poem "At the Lake" just finished a year of journal writing and illustrating along with a handful of Minnesota poets & artists. It was a wonderful project funded by the Minnesota Historical Society. Jauni is in Italy right now teaching printmaking/woodcutting; she is living her dream. I have just turned 50, Jane, and I know how important it is to live your dream. I have a wonderful family and, yet, there are still times in my life when I feel nostalgic for the life I have not lived. Could I change, even at the age of 50? Could I do something entirely different? If I do something different, will my family be able to assimilate the change? These are some of the questions that haunt me at my midlife. Perhaps, too, in the light of these past two horrendous weeks, my questions are moot, even selfish.
on sweet, sweet clover
late summer's dusk
This haiku "happened" when I was watching my children play soccer. The dusk seemed to melt into the smell of light rain and clover. I felt the "ends of things" gather up along with the dusk and nudge me awake. How very fragile this life is and how tenuous our hold...
Today my oldest daughter Brea took me out to lunch for a belated birthday present; we went to a bookstore, too, and I picked up Pattiann Roger's book of poems, Song of the World Becoming. (New and Collected poems 1981-2001) Milkweed Editions. I will close with a poem from this wonderful book.
What is it in the body that wants
to go on living, that heals the wound,
that knits the bone even while the I
is sleeping, that takes air to blood
unnoticed while the singer prays
for grace, while the thief darts in
and out pedestalled doorways,
while the player plucks the guitar,
while the reader deserts his own
to enter the book?
Not summoned, what is it in the body
that quickens by itself, goes sharp
and dimensional at near thunder, that lifts
and lightens in the presence of laughter
across a lawn, purple and rose lanterns
strung through the trees at dusk?
Is it just an emptiness, like the motion
of an empty cape that undulates
and flutters at its edges as it flies,
like the emptiness inside the cape
of the midnight wind, inside the fluttering
shadow-cape of the manta ray flying
across the ocean floor? Maybe it's just
a nothingness, like the vision of lightning
to the blind---never known, only remembered.
But it stays a place. It genders
warmth. It contrives. It is as tangible
and exact as the stone of a stone idol,
as straight and alert as a ghost riding
a riderless stallion. It creates like sunlight
on water makes fire. It maintains
as if its message were entire in simply
making message possible.
What is it in the body that wants
to stay alive, that itself has no name
except keeper, except vigilance, except
above all, except undeniable?
Well, what a gift I feel I have found in my mailbox as the letter from you! This is the kind of exchange I am looking for! And it is exactly what I wish to include in my blog. I wish to have such a voice as yours joining mine. We are on the same track and yet far enough apart to balance and unbalance.
My blog today has a note of hopefulness in it and now finding your letter adds to the validity of my hope. Your references to authors of books on journaling are not known to me. Most of my inspiration has come from the journals of Virginia Woolf which I am just now rereading with her letters. This means flipping two books back and forth but I am finding such gems on journaling as Virginia quoting from Wordsworth's The Prelude:
"The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, & curious props
By which the world of memory & thought
Exists & is sustained."
On this day, Thursday August 22, 1929 she gives a sample of how her day is scheduled which is at once singular and common with all our days. I think her book, The Waves, was an attempt to reorder the commoness of each person's days into a relation of experiences that explains more than narrative could do. A prime example is your haiku with the experience of dusk at the soccer game. Your haiku says very much, but the prose you added to it rounds out the experience and gives it grounding.
Just now, when I want it, I cannot find VW's exact words, but I remember reading how she was searching for a new kind of literature that was more than memoirs. Ethyl Sands, her friend, tried putting letters and memoirs together, but Virginia was not happy with the way Ethyl did it. I think that if Virginia had lived longer she would have used her diaries for this book that was in her mind in 1929. She definitely wanted poetry and prose together. Since she is gone, who is left to carry on her ideas?
The other influence on my aim to change my normal journal keeping was Anne Truitt's book, Daybook, The Journey of an Artist. Here, for the first time I saw that one could 'essay out 'of one's day - could stop the day, and extract one thought or feeling and then take the time to elaborate upon it by writing around and through it. To explore the idea or feeling as long as possible and not just make a note of it mixed in with all the many different impulses made great sense to me. It took me several months to give up my prior method, but I felt great courage and validation when I began with my blog in July.
In closing, Virginia's words, written after she had made a trip by car, seem to fit the journey I have made in emotions over the past ten days. She wrote on Friday, May 31, 1929: "Everything looks a little strange & symbolical when one comes back. I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again - as I always am when I write."
Hoping this touches you as your words touched me. Blessed be! \o/ Jane
September 22, 2001
I listened to Terry Gross’s "Fresh Air" on NPR because I heard she was having an interview with Robert Pinsky (American Poet Laureate 1997 – 1999) and with Robert Hass (Poet Laureate 1995 – 1997). From her several interviews with survivors of the terrorists’ attacks, her voice was even softer and gentler as she began talking with Pinsky. She asked him how the event affected him and he related how he had been in LA, getting ready to fly back to Boston that noon. With the air traffic halted, he could not return until Sunday so he was ‘stuck’ in a hotel while wanting to get back to his family. With her voice even softer and full of compassion, she asked him if he was able to write during this time. "Oh, yes!" he said brightly, " I wrote a book review." Over the microphone one could hear Terry swallowing as she switched gears. When she could speak again she asked him if there was a favorite poem of his he would read. "The house on the hill, is very still, on this sad day, everyone has gone away" he read someone’s lines which wrapped around each other in such simple rhymes for endless stanzas. I sat with my mouth open as I thought of the poverty of poetry scene ending the century.
Next she talked to Robert Hass in Berkeley. She asked him how the event affected him and he related how he had spoken at a memorial for one of the dead. As his formless voice bubbled and rubbled on she interrupted him to ask if he had written anything since the event. No, he needed some time to absorb the horror he said. I could get with his statement as I, too, have had a very hard time bringing the thoughts of the event to the poetry within me.
Then I recalled how earlier in the day I had seen Elizabeth St Jacques web
site LIGHT in which she
had put up with the contributions of haiku and tanka writers around the world.
I had been very touched by the immediacy of their ability to put what they saw
on TV into these genres. My letter to Elizabeth:
I had no idea that your idea of posting the tributes could be so powerful. I am sitting here stunned. Stunned as I was when I heard of what was happening on 9/11. But this stunning display you have posted has hope, and help and support in it. What an outpouring of poems. And how haiku and tanka have stretched themselves to contain terror, horror and grief as these genres had only begun to learn to do in Croatia. I see your page as a step, an indication of a change in our poetry scene as well as our world. This one, done by you with people around the world, is so positive. You and your work is a LIGHT in this world. Thank you for the idea and for all the efforts involved in carrying it out. I am so grateful to you for this positive step.
I had been feeling inadequate because I had been unable to add any haiku or tanka to Elizabeth’s site, and had not been able to save anything of what I had written that day of remembrance on the beach. And I wondered why ‘everyone’ else had poems and I had none. When we went to the grocery store we picked up a copy of Newsweek and I then knew why I was poemless. I had had no pictures in my mind of the event. Having absorbed all I knew about it over the radio, the images in my mind were too insubstantial, fleeting, and unconnected with reality for either haiku or tanka. I realized how important visual stimuli are for our poetry. But shutting myself off from the horror of seeing pictures of the destruction, I had shut myself off from the poetry in it.
where the towers were
the changing sun
Last night, as if to offer a tiny celebration, the fog drifted out to sea leaving us a glorious sunset and the night came splendored with stars and a new moon. But memory, like morning, returns me to another place.
buried in dust
sadness comes back
Now when they report on the radio that parts of the rubble are still burning my mind can connect the pictures in a magazine and the candle that burns on the altar on my desk.
the prayers of candles
September 21, 2001
Our skies are still a cold heavy gray with the fog as thick as an ocean but I feel there has been a shift in human awareness. Though praise for President Bush has never before come across my lips, it was during his talk to the nation that I began to get a glimpse that this sea change in our thinking is taking place.
I know that in the past week my greatest fear, once it seemed the terrorists were not striking again, was that our government would be drawn into a war that pitted religion against religion. Even if the government decided for other reasons to bomb the government of Afghanistan, it would be easy to view this action as retaliation against a Muslim-ruled land and to inflame that kind of thinking. I felt this would put us on a course that would spiral dangerously into a global war.
However, President Bush was very clear that the perpetrators of the events of 9/11/1 were a band of outlaws and should be treated as such. They were not acting with the sanction of any nation or of any religion. They were a fringe group of extremists. Every religion has such pockets and people who oppose extremists are not condemning all members of that religion. That the declaration of war was against outlaws and not against a nation, a people, or a religion gave me a small sense of relief.
I know that this ‘war’ is going to allow my government to do things which I will decry and disagree with, and I know that everyone is going to use this action for their own advancement and with this, more unjust acts will be committed. But I feel that leaders of nations have now seen that we must act as a world (and the USA, more than anyone, needs to make very many changes in decisions on who we back with our money and our approval or disapproval). We are in no way out of the woods at this point, and there will certainly be many changes in our lives as we attempt to disarm and destroy those groups of individuals who believe they can gain power by taking the right to kill civilians.
It seems this small change in thinking is our only victory and I hope that it one that sustains us through the future. Was it the arrival of our cold weather or a deep seated desire to get our country back on its financial feet? anyhow I have placed three orders for new clothes and linens this week and made a donation to the Red Cross.
one minute blind
in the crouching river
veined as a hand
innocent as burning pride
the roots of the wider sea
Continue reading at:
September 11 - 20, 2001
September 1 - 10, 2001
August 22 - 31, 2001
August 11 - 21, 2001
August 9 - 1, 2001
July 31 - 26, 2001
July 25 - 18, 2001
July 17 - 11, 2001
July 10 - 4, 2001