Friday, January 30, 2009

Kept Perfection

In the collection so enticingly named Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts, Jorie Graham writes these opening lines in the title poem:

I understand that it is grafting,
this partnership of lost wills, common flowers.

That only perfection can be kept, not
its perfect instances.

The title comes from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

But he who is wisest among you, he also is only a discord and hybrid of plant and of ghost.

Now that gives you a little punch to the chest.

I came across Graham's book on my shelf this morning. It demanded a visit. Scrolling through my photos, this flower captured from a visit to Rhinebeck begged a match. We continually try to make sense of our surroundings, to graft our gatherings. We try to make sense of the light falling around us, to hold onto its shifting shapes. We pull the patterns toward us, cinching the unruly splotches, trying to grasp the pale outlines, the white petals and jagged lightning, with our greedy eyes.

Graham ends her poem with these lines:

White petals, creaseless and ambitious,

may I break your even weave, loosen your knot,

and if I break you are you mine?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Possibilities inside Cold Truths

Yesterday, Inauguration Day: possibilities inside cold truths. Still a long, hard season ahead, but hopes stirred for the sleeping twig encased in ice, hopes for a thaw, a future touch of citrus green.

As I listened to Obama's speech, I copied down this single line: "We are willing to extend our hand if you are willing to unclench your fist ..."

Photo taken in my yard, January 2009. Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pyramid Head

Sometimes, despite everything, the world presents you with a surprising, uplifting image. Yesterday, as I stood in the bitter cold fueling my car, thinking serious thoughts, I looked up to see a man with a flowing white beard wearing a pyramid on his head. It was more the open framework of a pyramid, a brass-colored outline, apex pointing toward the heavens. The size of a large hat. As I said, it was cold, the pyramid was metal, and the man was balding. He nonchalantly filled up his tank, obviously pondering his own thoughts inside the cage of his pyramid. I wondered what was going on in there. What did the headgear do? I couldn't stop the smile tugging at my face. This image absolutely tickled me. I had to re-park and call a friend. Wonder and mystery and humor are contagious -- and, in conjunction, work a powerful magic. Hats off to the man in the pyramid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Icy Patterns

I loved the icicles that grew like glass fingers from the red Adirondack footstool during the recent ice storm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cable Knit Snow

At the top of my hill, I came across this cable knit snow in the road, formed of tire tracks. Sometimes individual patterns coincidentally come together to form something more beautiful and whole. The obvious parallel: poetry. The gorgeous surprise of lines and words entwined to make a poem.

In Around Us the Darkness is Deep, in the poem entitled "How These Words Happened," William Stafford writes this first stanza:

In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. They traded
meanings while pretending to have only one.

"In stillness, they jostled." I like that. Knit together, the lines grow richer and wider, the poem invites us into its deeper pattern.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shrunken Worlds

I create Shrunken Worlds using a ship-in-a-bottle method, hand cutting gorgeous papers, writing out bits of poems, then assembling the pieces inside glass forms of various shapes. Tools? Scissors, a wood skewer, tweezers, and patience. It's a meditative activity. The colors, patterns, textures and shapes delight me; the final paper sculpture never fails to surprise me. I'm always looking for ways to combine art and poetry. This works.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Icy Eye

LinkToday's endless ice and rain formed fantastic ice sculptures everywhere. These miniature icicles grew from the handle and edges of the barbeque.

Here's an excerpt from "Winter in a Glass Eye," an icy prose poem in Stirring the Mirror, my 2007 collection from Bitter Oleander Press:

Missing the missing casts absence into a blown glass shell, an icy eye encompassing emptiness. A fracture of the heart weeps this brittle treasure. Some pain is so hard won, it forms a glittering accretion. The heart clings to its frozen jewel, shields memory in its tight fist. It holds on, so not to lose the past joy that left this cold pebble in its palm....

I'm missing my friend Jill Wood, who passed away in the early hours of December 26th. She was brilliant, artistic, creative, feisty, honest, funny, and strong -- a woman warrior. She fought for those she loved, she fought for what she believed in, she fought to the very end.

Click on image to enlarge.