Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The part of life
devoted to contemplation
was at odds with the part
committed to action…

Life, my sister said,
is like a torch passed now
from the body to the mind.
Sadly, she went on, the mind is not
there to receive it.

Louise Glück, from “Autumn” in “Winter Recipes from the Collective: Poems” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 26, 2021)


Portrait: Louise Gluck via The Atlantic

Walking. With Small Details.

Wednesday morning. 5:56 a.m. Temp, mid-70’s. Muggy.

484 consecutive days. Like in a Row. Morning walk at Daybreak @ Cove Island Park.

Now, do you see that ripple in the water, actually a number of ripples, in the bottom quarter of the photo? They’re the equivalent of Rainbow Smelt in Lake Superior. (I think.) 15 years living here, I’ve never noticed these schools of fish. And now, they’re seemingly everywhere. Water rippling, spinning, bubbling. My eyes darting left and right in search of other schools.

I can’t explain it.

They’ve become important.

Anuk Arudpragasam, from A Passage North: “Suddenly the small details that are glossed over in your usual accounting of life took on an almost cosmic significance, as though your fate could be determined by whether or not you remembered to draw water before it became dark, by whether you hurried to catch the bus or decided to take your time, by whether or not you said yes or no to any of the countless trivial decisions that come only in retrospect, once the event has occurred and nothing can be changed, to take on greater significance.”

Thursday Morning.  I’m between calls. Susan shouts out asking for me to come down stairs. Hurry!

I come barreling down the stairs.

(Sciatica and all, this body can still move when it needs to.)

She’s sobbing. Good God. What happened? [Read more…]

Spring

And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?

Louise Glück, from “Mock Orange” in The Triumph of Achilles 


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

This is how you live when you have a cold heart.
As I do: in shadows, trailing over cool rock,
under the great maple trees.

The sun hardly touches me.
Sometimes I see it in early spring, rising very far away.
Then leaves grow over it, completely hiding it. I feel it
glinting through the leaves, erratic,
like someone hitting the side of a glass with a metal spoon.

Living things don’t all require
light in the same degree. Some of us
make our own light: a silver leaf
like a path no one can use, a shallow
lake of silver in the darkness under the great maples.

But you know this already.
You and the others who think
you live for truth and, by extension, love
all that is cold.

Louise Glück, from “Lamium” in Poems 1962-2012


Notes:

  • Glück won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1993 for her collection The Wild Iris. Glück is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award (Triumph of Achilles), the Academy of American Poet’s Prize (Firstborn), as well as numerous Guggenheim fellowships.
  • Portrait of Louise Glück by neh.gov.  Poem via misguided ghosts
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Is there any other way?

why-poetry

Excerpts from A Few Questions for Poetry by Daniel Halpern:

Why Poetry? Well, yes. Most books of poetry sell a couple of thousand copies, at best. So in a quantitative sense, what’s the point of supporting it? […]

A question I often ask myself is why so many people (and we’re now talking about millions of people) turn to poetry for all important rites of passage — weddings, funerals, toasts, tragedies, eulogies, birthdays. . . . Why? Because the language of poetry avoids the quotidian — but the best poetry simultaneously celebrates the quotidian. Language that’s focused in such a way that true meaning and emotion is redolent in the air. The poet W.S. Merwin once said: “Poetry addresses individuals in their most intimate, private, frightened and elated moments . . . because it comes closer than any other art form to addressing what cannot be said. In expressing the inexpressible, poetry remains close to the origins of language.”

Why poetry? I sent out a few emails to see what various people had to say. The poet Louise Glück, on the subject of book sales, wrote back, “The books may not sell, but neither are they given away or thrown away. They tend, more than other books, to fall apart in their owners’ hands. […]

[Read more…]

Running. With Lust.

donuts,cookie,muffin,sweet,dessert,bakery

5:14 am.
I tap open the weather app.
23° F. 
I glance out the window.
Dark. DARK.

The morning is the hardest time. It is hard enough anywhere for a man to begin the day’s work in darkness…One may be a long time realizing it, but cold and darkness deplete the body gradually; the mind turns sluggish; and the nervous system slows up in its responses…But I must not dwell on it. Otherwise I am undone.

~ Richard Byrd

I stare at the ceiling.
Go later. There will be light. It will be warmer.
I pull the comforter tighter.
Zeke sighs and nuzzles closer.
Who are you kidding? Get up and out.

I climb out of bed.
Needing the pull of inspiration, I take a new route.

The master said:
You must write what you see.
But what I see does not move me.
The master answered:
Change what you see.

– Louise Glück, in Vita Nova

[Read more…]

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