Wednesday, July 23
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The Clearing
"Deep in the forest there's an unexpected clearing that can be reached only by someone who has lost his way.
The clearing is enclosed in a forest that is choking itself. Black trunks with the ashy beard stubble of lichen. The trees are tangled tightly together and are dead right up to the tops, where a few solitary green twigs touch the light. Beneath them: shadow brooding on shadow, and the swamp growing.
But in the open space the grass is unexpectedly green and alive. There are big stones lying here as if they'd been arranged. They must be the foundation stones of a house, but I could be wrong. Who lived here? No one can tell us. The names exist somewhere in an archive that no one opens (only archives stay young). The oral tradition has died and with it the memories. The gypsy people remember but those who have learned to write forget. Write down, and forget.
The homestead murmurs with voices, it is the center of the world. But the inhabitants die or move out, the chronicle breaks off. Desolate for many years. And the homestead becomes a sphinx. At last everything's gone, except for the foundation stones.
Somehow I've been here before, but now I must go. I dive in among the thickets. I can push my way through only with one step forward and two to the side, like a chess knight. Bit by bit the forest thins and lightens. My steps get longer. A footpath creeps toward me. I am back in the communications network.
On the humming electricity pole a beetle is sitting in the sun. Beneath the shining wing covers its wings are folded up as ingeniously as a parachute packed by an expert."
 - Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robin Fulton
The Great Enigma



Tuesday, July 22
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"Because getting to know the world happens anyway, by living in it, as soon as you walk out the door you're confronted with the world directly. With the whole world. With up and down, back and front, ugliness and beauty, perfectly normal. There's no need to want this. It happens of its own accord. And if you never leave the house, the process is the same."
 - Thomas Bernhard
commonplace



Monday, July 21
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Advice from La Llorona
 - a found poem
Each grief has its unique side.
Choose the one that appeals to you.
Go gently.
Your body needs energy to repair the amputation.
Humor phantom pain.

Your brain cells are soaked with salt;
connections fail unexpectedly and often.
Ask for help.
Accept help.

Read your grief like the daily newspaper:
headlines may have information you need.
Scream. Drop-kick the garbage can across the street.

Don't feel guilty if you have a good time.
Don't act as if you haven't been hit by a Mack Truck.
Do things a little differently
but don't make a lot of changes.
Revel in contradiction.

Talk to the person who died.
Give her a piece of your mind.

Try to touch someone at least once a day.
Approach grief with determination.
Pretend the finish line doesn't keep receding.
Lean into the pain.
You can't outrun it.
 - Deborah A. Miranda
The Zen of La Llorona



Saturday, July 19
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How many years have slipped through our hands?
At least as many as the constellations we still can identify.
The quarter moon, like a light skiff,
floats out of the mist-remnants
Of last night's hard rain.
It, too, will slip through our fingers
with no ripple, without us in it.
 - Charles Wright



Friday, July 18
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Hokusai
Anger is a bitter lock
But you can turn it.

Hokusai aged 83
said,
Time to do my lions.

Every morning
until he died
219 days later
he made
a lion.

Wind came gusting from the northwest.

Lions swayed
and leapt
from the crests
of the pine trees
onto
the snowy road
or crashed
together
 - Anne Carson



"From the age of six, I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was fifty I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of seventy is not worth bothering with. At seventy five I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am eighty you will see real progress. At ninety I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At one hundred, I shall be a marvelous artist. At one hundred and ten, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.'"
 - Hokusai Katsushika



Thursday, July 17
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"Something else gets under your skin, keeps you working days and nights at the sacrifice of your sleeping and eating and attention to your family and friends, something beyond the love of puzzle solving. And that other force is the anticipation of understanding something about the world that no one has ever understood before you.

I have experienced that pleasure of discovering something new. It is an exquisite sensation, a feeling of power, a rush of the blood, a sense of living forever. To be the first vessel to hold this new thing.

All of the scientists I've known have at least one more quality in common: they do what they do because they love it, and because they cannot imagine doing anything else. In a sense, this is the real reason a scientist does science. Because the scientist must. Such a compulsion is both blessing and burden. A blessing because the creative life, in any endeavor, is a gift filled with beauty and not given to everyone, a burden because the call is unrelenting and can drown out the rest of life.

This mixed blessing and burden must be why the astrophysicist Chandrasekhar continued working until his mid-80's, why a visitor to Einstein's apartment in Bern found the young physicist rocking his infant with one hand while doing mathematical calculations with the other. This mixed blessing and burden must have been the "sweet hell" that Walt Whitman referred to when he realized at a young age that he was destined to be a poet. "Never more," he wrote, "shall I escape."
 - Alan Lightman



Wednesday, July 16
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The Tree and the Sky
There's a tree walking around in the rain,
it rushes past us in the pouring grey.
It has an errand. It gathers life
out of the rain like a blackbird in an orchard.

When the rain stops so does the tree.
There it is, quiet on clear nights
waiting as we do for the moment
when the snowflakes blossom in space.
 - Tomas Tranströmer









  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov