Lightly child, lightly

Do not expect that if your book falls open
to a certain page, that any phrase
you read will make a difference today,
or that the voices you might overhear
when the wind moves through the yellow-green
and golden tent of autumn, speak to you.
Things ripen or go dry. Light plays on the
dark surface of the lake. Each afternoon
your shadow walks beside you on the wall,
and the days stay long and heavy underneath
the distant rumor of the harvest. One
more summer gone,
and one way or another you survive,
dull or regretful, never learning that
nothing is hidden in the obvious
changes of the world, that even the dim
reflection of the sun on tall, dry grass
is more than you will ever understand.
And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things.

Dana Gioia, “Do Not Expect” from 99 Poems: New & Selected


Notes:

  • Photo: via Newthom. Poem: Thank you Whiskey River
  • 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.”

Our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green

Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I’ll be king and you’ll be queen
Our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green

Won’t you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won’t you lie down with me now
September grass.

Oh the memory is like the sweetest pain
Yeah, I kissed the girl at a football game
I can still smell the sweat and the grass stains
We walked home together. I was never the same.

But that was a long time ago
And where is she now? I don’t know

Won’t you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won’t you lie down with me now
September grass…

~ James Taylor, from “September Grass” (Album “October Road” 2002)


JT Lyrics and post inspiration via The Hammock Papers

Yup…


Source: thisisnthappiness

but for the chemical rush in the hour after, for the night of dreamless sleep

Exercise was always in extremes — a distance to traverse, an impossibly high number. Every summer spent in the vicinity of a pool, I was to do 100 laps per day. This, too, was referred to in a shorthand — “doing the laps” — that made it sound like normal penance for any vacation. Counting to 100 was a feat, much less swimming there, and my mind went numb with boredom while my family ate watermelon by the pool side. I associated exercise with punishment, with the glossy magazine’s injunction to achieve the perfect body, a waifish small-breasted form that no amount of hotel-room yoga would ever transform mine into.

And yet, when I graduated from college, something shifted. Left to my own devices, I discovered exercise could be as hedonic as any other indulgence. It was a matter of reframing the goal: not to become thin, which was as unlikely as tall or blond, but for the chemical rush in the hour after, for the night of dreamless sleep, for the feeling of my body, a diffuse, frontier-less thing…Exercise was time that was mine, where I owed nothing to anyone, and the next day’s aching muscles could be as secret a pleasure as bruises left by a lover.

Now every summer, whenever I can find a pool, I do the laps. The size of the pool may vary, but I always swim until 100. At the ocean, I choose a point as far away as I can — a distant boat, a rocky outgrowth — and swim to it and back. The pleasure is partly in the terror, halfway there, when the beach umbrellas are as small as glitter, that I will never make it back. The pulse of deep water, the blue-black whisper of down down down, the atavistic tremor as my body realizes, as all bodies have always known, how slight it is against an ocean. And then the adrenaline: thighs and waist and biceps concocted into ropes of steel, hands that slip and reach under the surface as softly as under a skirt, feet that pound impossibly far behind, until I am as long as the shoreline. I’m a strong swimmer but not a good one, and I gasp only to the right, eyes stinging with salt, until I can hear the shrieks and lifeguard whistles and ice cream bells, the sounds of the civilization I almost slipped away from. In the water, my body expands, loses itself, weightless. Back on the sand, blood still pulsing with the ocean’s beat, I contract back into shape, my shape, whose boundaries are finally my own.

The Hedonic Rush of Exercise” (NY Times, August 27, 2019)

 


Photo: David Hockney’s “John St. Clair Swimming, April 1972” from “Twenty Photographic Pictures by David Hockney” (1976). CreditCredit© David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt.

But our reality, some blend of print and digital, material and immaterial

The more we use our screens, it seems, the more power we assign to books as objects, and to turning their literal pages as a timeless icon of languor. But our reality, some blend of print and digital, material and immaterial, is perhaps no less picturesque. On this beautiful summer morning, while finishing this piece, I was happily distracted by the Twitter feed of a poet named Jeremy Proehl, who, like the mad, poverty-stricken Romantic poet John Clare, inscribes his verse on birch bark. Clare, who also concocted his own ink out of “a mix of bruised nut galls, green copper, and stone blue soaked in a pint and a half of rain-water,” was after permanence, not planned transience: he would not recognize his art in the notion that Proehl’s own bark poems will “fade and break apart in the weather.”

The Internet has no weather, and these dissolving poems will be preserved in every state of decay. What part of my summer morning was “reading,” and what part of it was distraction? Once I put the period on this sentence, I’m headed outside with a copy of John Clare’s poetry, along with my phone, in case I need to look up some images of chaffinches, hedge roses, or whitethorn shrubs.

~ Dan Chiasson, from “Reader, I Googled It” in The New Yorker, August 26, 2019


Photo: Jeremy Proehl – “I write poems on birch bark and hang them in the woods. I call them prayer poems. As they fade and break apart in the weather, like prayer flags, I hope the thoughts of the poems travel on.

Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners

Summer…It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh-cut grass and honeysuckle, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip-flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. Something about fall being so close, another year, another Christmas, another beginning. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, blowing out all the heat and dirt to leave everything gasping and cool.

Sarah Dessen, That Summer 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Whiskey River. Photo: Walking Geema

Lightly child, lightly

Don’t you wish they would stop,
all the thoughts swirling around in your head,
bees in a hive, dancers tapping their way across the stage.
I should rake the leaves in the carport, buy Christmas lights.
Was there really life on Mars? What will I cook for dinner?
I walk up the driveway, put out the garbage bins…
Does the car need oil, again? There’s a hole in the ozone
the size of Texas, and everything seems to be speeding up.

Come, let’s stand by the window and look out
at the light on the field. Let’s watch how
the clouds cover the sun, and almost nothing
stirs in the grass.

~ Danusha Lameris, from “Thinking” from The Moons of August


Notes:

  • Poem – Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance.  Photo: Moon gazing at Max Patch, North Carolina by Paolo Nacpil
  • 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.”

Lightly child, lightly

The curtain

In the August quietude and the silence

Of the tranquil morning,

Moves gently in the wandering air . . .

Beautiful moment.

Juan Ramón Jiménez, from “Lightness” in The Selected Writings of Juan Ramon


Notes:

  • Poem – via violentwavesofemotion.  Photo: takemeaway
  • 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.”

On Swimming…


…hold a fabric of silence so fine
and old that even a breath
could tear it.
I love to swim in the sea, which keeps
talking to itself
in the monotone of a vagabond
who no longer recalls
exactly how long he’s been on the road.
Swimming is like a prayer:
palms join and part,
join and part, almost without end.

~ Adam Zagajewski, from “On Swimming” from Without End: New and Selected Poems.


Notes: Poem via 3 Quarks Daily.  Art by Samantha French

Driving I-95 North. In March, with Summer Breeze.

Yesterday evening. 6:55 p.m. Still at the office.  I shut down my PC, grab the loose papers from my desk and toss them into my brief case. I throw on my coat and step into the hallway. It’s quiet, still. No phones ringing. No printers running. No overhead hum, the HVAC is shut down. Everyone has gone home. The building rests.

I walk to the garage. It’s been a Long week. Unexpected (and serious) issues flare up, soaking up the free oxygen. Yet, you like that don’t you? Good to be needed. Great to be needed. DK, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Firefighter, of course. Superman-DK running into burning buildings, his Cape flapping behind him, carrying out Babies. Like that, sort of, of the Suit Kind.

I’m in the car. Temperature read-out is 49° F. I’m on the tail end of rush hour. Traffic is flowing. Roads are dry. Spring, come, Now.

I slide the window down. The cool wind washes over my face, a light anesthetic, and the moment spins back passages from Sarah McColl’s “Joy Enough“, my new book in flight.

“I felt it first as a space, like a window thrown open and then a breeze through the bedroom.”

And then Sarah rises again:

“There was a breeze that day, and my hair was gathered into a ponytail, I could feel the air move at the nape of my neck.

And then Sarah one more time:

There were no cars on the road, and the hem of my skirt fluttered at my knees in the humid breeze.

And with this, the weight of the week lifts, the tightness in my shoulders and neck releases, and Bliss rises.

With one eye on the road and the other on my iPhone, I flick down my Favorites playlist, turn the volume up, and then one more extra turn, and hit play.  Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts.

See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind


Notes: Other quotes by Sarah McColl in Joy Enough: A Memoir.”  Photo via Of Figs and Roses

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