And Then They Lived Happily Ever After

June 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

blog photo

So Delilah, my currently red-haired niece, had her fairytale wedding on the island of Chincoteague, in the June sun on green grass by the water. Sadly, wild ponies did not attend. But there was music and dancing, shrimp and oysters, beautiful young people and sharp-tongued old ladies. Charles, all in New York black, was mistaken for a priest. (The real officiant was a woman.) Ramona, as maid of honor, gave rousing toasts with just the right blend of emotion and wit; my sister was a vision in pink; and the bride’s father exhorted the newlyweds to go out and make money.

What is there to say about a happy wedding? Nobody vomited onto the cake, interrupted with unsavory news, or seduced someone else’s spouse. It’s possible a few of us ate or drank too much. There was a distinct lack of chocolate. My nose and shoulders roasted pink. I have pictures of gaiety, beauty, and Nick in a suit.

We spent the weekend here in a rented house by the water (family and some friends). I was answering work emails every day and feeling harassed, but also so deeply pleased to be around the people to whom I am related by blood, marriage, love and friendship. Earlier, we’d spent a few days in Washington and had dinner with my cousin Beatrice, whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years—it doesn’t feel that long, Bea!—and her family; and saw triplet cousins I hadn’t laid eyes on since their birth 12 years ago. I also got to the National Gallery, which was almost as thrilling as everything else. And oysters. I mentioned oysters already. They’re really good fresh, plump, fried. And crabcakes….

But mostly Delilah, the newborn with the huge blue eyes; the naked two-year-old peeing in Charles’ beer on a visit to our country house (we didn’t tell him until he’d taken a drink and he said, “Nothing wrong with a little baby pee,” and finished the bottle); the elfin child afraid of ghosts and solitude; the unhappy teenager; the beautiful bald girl; the skinny platinum blonde achingly in love with Nick, who wasn’t quite certain yet. And Delilah, now the joyous bride, still so much in love with her one and only, happy with life, her family, the beach, and a good party. The moon is full, Jupiter is entering Cancer (planet of luck, prosperity and marriage entering the sign of emotional connection), and all her loved ones are at sweet spots in their lives. I hope she and Nick are in love for a hundred years.


Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

–William Shakespeare

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Yesterday, When the Sun Was Shining

June 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lola guarding Charles' money

Lola guarding Charles’ money

The creamsickle pussycat had a cold for 4 days and we were very sad. Now he’s well enough to toss my jewelry-making wire-snippers in the air, catch them in his paws, chew on the rubber handles and do it all over again.

It’s the little things.

What a beautiful day! I have so much work. I’m glad I have so much (paying) work, but the day is so perfect, breezy, warm, blue and sunny, a day for a picnic in the park.

I’m ghostwriting the first chapter of a book about committed relationships. I get to invent case histories: flash fiction. Also copy editing a couple of novels, which are good enough that I like working on them, and writing a grant for the Cathedral.

Now it’s later…I took another walk, but am now making dinner and waiting for the wandering minstrel.

Charles and I are both satisfied with our endeavors (Charles makes friends out on the street: musicians, children, Rip Torn. Yeah, Rip Torn. He left a $20 in the guitar case.) If we only had a third person to clean and do the laundry, this household might approach normal for the first time ever.

But, I agree, that would be a loss. Such gigantic folly, passion and tragedy as I’ve lived should lead to something better than normal, something like the fantasy I just read where the teenage protagonist was traumatized because he remembered murdering his beloved girlfriend but it turns out his brothers implanted those memories and what he actually did was turn her into a white cat because his brothers were forcing him turn her into an inanimate object as they had made him do with other targets, since his transformation power was very rare and useful as a way of not leaving bodies behind, and he wanted to give her a chance to escape.

I haven’t changed at all since I was seven. First wish, last wish: I want the power of transformation. In stories about wishes, I was never interested in the castles, the toys, the bushels of candy, or whatever. I wanted the ability to turn people into animals (including myself). And back again. It’s all very well to say: that what fiction’s for. It is what it’s for, but it’s not enough.

I went through some writing from last year, looking for something to submit, and got all weirded out again. The past is liquifying like lettuce wrapped in plastic and left for weeks in the fridge. “You going to eat that?” says my superego.

“No, thank you.”

“Then don’t stick your dirty little fingers in it.”

This is a short post (for me) so here’s a long poem.

To Think of Time
by Walt Whitman

1

To think of time—of all that retrospection!
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!

Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.

To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women
were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our
part!
To think that we are now here, and bear our part!

2

Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an
accouchement!
Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse!

The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible
look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters
are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has
long pervaded the rooms,)
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases,
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.

The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously
on the corpse.

3

To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials!
To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen,
and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking
great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them!

To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent!

(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy
or eighty years at most,
I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)

Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never
cease—they are the burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall
surely be buried.

4

A reminiscence of the vulgar fate,
A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen,
Each after his kind:
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river,
half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead,
the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month,
A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral
of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.

Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate
is pass’d, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the
hearse uncloses,
The coffin is pass’d out, lower’d and settled, the whip is laid on the
coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel’d in,
The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence,
A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done,
He is decently put away—is there anything more?

He was a good fellow, free-mouth’d, quick-temper’d, not bad-looking,
able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with
life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty,
drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited
toward the last, sicken’d, was help’d by a contribution, died, aged
forty-one years—and that was his funeral.

Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather
clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,
somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before
and man behind, good day’s work, bad day’s work, pet stock, mean
stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night;
To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and
he there takes no interest in them!

5

The markets, the government, the working-man’s wages—to think what
account they are through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as great account of
them—yet we make little or no account!

The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call
goodness—to think how wide a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond
the difference.

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a
nomination and election? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful
maternal cares?
—These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.

Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross’d you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of
what avail?

6

What will be, will be well—for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.

The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of
women with men, nor the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of
houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form,
location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them
phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of
his life, are well-consider’d.

You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely
around yourself;
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!

7

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and
father—it is to identify you;
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided;
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form’d in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.

The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the
baton has given the signal.

The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he
is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of
those that to look upon and be with is enough.

The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal,
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded,
The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof
can be eluded.

8

Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the
Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all
through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.

The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and
good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and
distinguish’d, may be well,
But there is more account than that—there is strict account
of all.

The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing,
The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American
aborigines are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the
murderer or mean person is not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as
they go,
The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion
is not nothing as he goes.

9

Of and in all these things,
I have dream’d that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law
of us changed,
I have dream’d that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present
and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present
and past law,
For I have dream’d that the law they are under now is enough.

If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung,
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray’d!
Then indeed suspicion of death.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die
now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward
annihilation?

10

Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.

How beautiful and perfect are the animals!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it!

What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just
as perfect,
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable
fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have pass’d on to this, and slowly and surely
they yet pass on.

11

I swear I think now that everything without exception has an
eternal Soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!
the animals!

I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is
for it, and the cohering is for it;
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life
and materials are altogether for it!
– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/21927#sthash.0GuQcban.dpuf

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