July 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
I haven’t had the creative energy to write here since Delilah’s wedding. Too much work, exhaustion…how the days do pass. I learn a lot from editing, though it does make me itch to write my own fiction. But I don’t think this hiatus is a bad thing. My creative voice, which got polluted with…stuff…is airing out, hung on a line in the afternoon sun, eyed by squirrels and robins, ghosts and beetles.
I want to write a story with beetles in it, beetles spilling out of a desk drawer, a manila envelope, the bodice of a woman with dark-red lips…and maybe a claw-foot bathtub in the woods where the drunken man sleeps when his wife is angry at him. And in the sky, bothering no one, a talking sheep talking a lot. Yes, the images and characters are there; they always are.
Charles has a gig, subbing, playing with Sol Yagid, legendary clarinetist from the Benny Goodman era. Yagid’s over 90 and apparently cussed—unfortunate because Charles feels inadequate to play swing. It won’t be fun for him, I guess, but such experiences are always worth it. He’s in the other room now, practicing, practicing. He sounds great to me!
He doesn’t know enough of the songs, he says. He reminds me of a guitarist he met, used to play with Peggy Lee, who told him that one night he was busy and asked Joe Pass to sub for him. When Pass got to the club and heard the line-up of tunes, he said, “I’m not going to play that shit,” thereby losing the original guitarist his job.
“Just be polite,” I said.
I have to go meet a client later, then back for more editing and fractured thoughts of my unfinished novels, which will, I assure you, benefit from time passing. As long as I don’t drop dead, that is. The heat, the clamoring cats. I tell them it’s too hot and they’re too furry to sprawl on my melting body, but do they listen? They ignore my weak rejections, coming back and back until I give in. Charles thinks Mouchette is losing weight but he doesn’t have to spend heartwarming July afternoons underneath her.
At any given time, I feel like half a person (CFS); it’s a good thing I’m overqualified for most of what I do, although not in the organization department, nor housekeeping, nor memory. Charles and I need an overqualified wife.
Btw, as a wife I get points for not nagging. That’s easy, Sugar. Nagging is way too much work.
You remember the first line of this, but do you remember any more of it?
Endymion, Book I
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,
They alway must be with us, or we die.
January 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
I haven’t listened to music in a while, but tonight I opened iTunes. I couldn’t find party shuffle, which is what I usually listen to, liking to be surprised, so instead clicked on, “Top 25…”
Oops. Ray Charles, “Here we go again”, Chet Baker, “Everything happens to me,” Sinatra, “One for my Baby,” Nat King Cole, “Blame it on my Youth.”
You get the picture. Now I’ve got Oscar Petersen being cool on “Days of Wine and Roses”, but don’t have much time before I get to Paul Desmond, “That old Feeling,” Ray singing, “Fever” and a little while after that Tierney Sutton, “What a little moonlight can do.”
The moon is full tonight. Why don’t I go look at it? Oh, right, it’s overcast. Always something.
I talked to my sweetie today, the one I never see anymore. He’s always so happy to hear from me until I get too relaxed and try to explain how and whatever I feel (tending toward the bad, because I hoard the good news, always have, not wanting it spoiled), and he snaps at me. “You’re not in Haiti!”
I’m not going to even try to answer that.
Despair is a mighty force. Why can’t it power a city? It’s not any nastier than burning coal. It’s even pretty mild, this particular unhappiness, considering what I used to feel. I’d to sob for hours and rend my skin. All that between 2 and 5. The poor husband. He’d come home into the aftermath and his face would skew sideways, one shoulder hunching up, ordering dinner over the phone. I’d stalk out ragefully, walk the city for hours, come home full of sparks of unkindness.
I’m so much better than that; I’m not even the same person. But it’s just like everything else in middle age: even a little is too much. Because, you know, the years aren’t billowing ahead, the earth isn’t deep and cool beneath me, and I don’t remember childhood anymore. I have to look carefully for the happiness so discreetly here, how it hides in the cat’s cocoa-smelling fur (especially rich on the top of his head), the lights that go on and off at my whim. Cold sparkling water. Traffic surf.
Ray is singing “Fever.” How do contemporary musicians not chew the earth in humiliation for thinking they share an art?
A Song of Despair
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!
It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot’s dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!
In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!
I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!
How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!
Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!
From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!
It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!