You—like us—great for an instant

Forgive me, I am someone who seeks out synchronicity—that is, confirmation that I am where I am meant to be, in this exact moment in life and time.

It’s silly (is it?), but I need it (why?).

Last night, driving away from Portland, Ian turned the radio to a local station playing jazz. “Do you like jazz?” he asked. Almost ten years we have known each other, yet still some things to know and remain unknown. He told me about a college class he signed up for with this very radio station, a sort of internship where he’d learn the radio ropes and how to present a show, how he didn’t know anything about jazz and stayed up late at Powell’s reading and researching. But (alas, alack) it was one of those harsh winters and (oh, poor student) he didn’t have a car and wound up missing some classes and thus ended his career in local jazz radio before it had even begun. “Oh baby,” I laughed, “you could have been somebody.”

I was teasing, but it’s true—I think about it all the time: all the roads not taken or only half taken, all the somebodies we could have been and might still be. I can (and have) spend hours tracing back all the things that had to happen in order to find myself, here, now, in this place. And, though I am happy in this place, I am one of those people who can’t help seeking confirmation that all is as it should be, that there isn’t another place I’m supposed to be. Even the smallest of ‘signs’ can set me at ease for, oh, whole hours.

Last night, when we arrived back at the house we are watching for friends this month, the sky away from the city was clear and crisp. It has been so foggy lately and, so, we took a stroll up the back fields, in search of shooting stars. He saw three and I saw one and a bit. He deserved it. He gets up earlier than I do, works harder and longer, lights the fire before he leaves, leaves a teabag in a mug for me…

These things are important and real and good. And yet, I wake this morning thinking, Are we doing enough with our lives, should we be traveling or building or making, we should see more live music, we should write more, I should really learn an instrument—or to drive—I thought we’d have our Christmas shopping done by now, why do we procrastinate, are we wasting it, missing it, why did we just sit by the fire half the day? 

And then, as it seems to go, I stumble across some words that still me, that seem to have been written in the stars for me, today, this morning, when thoughts and anxieties shoot and fire and fizzle across the fearful, doubtful spaces of my mind. A small synchronicity, a poem by Galway Kinnell, makes me forget the creeping daytime thoughts and focus on last night, and all those time in which we are great, and happy, as long as we are arm in arm and looking up.

 

On the Frozen Field

We walk across the snow,
The stars can be faint,
The moon can be eating itself out,
There can be meteors flaring to death on earth,
The Northern Lights can bloom and seethe
And be tearing themselves apart all night,
We walk arm in arm, and we are happy.

You in whose ultimate madness we live,
You flinging yourself out into the emptiness,
You—like us—great for an instant,

O only universe we know, forgive us.

 

Frozen Field

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Answers

Mark Strand has died.

His was among the first American poetry I read as a teenage girl (apart from the obligatory Robert Frost of my childhood schooling). I was looking for Answers and Alternatives and poetry often pointed the way into and out of myself.

In true teenage fashion, I especially sought those words I could appropriate for my own emotionally exaggerated ends. My seventeen year old self got some good melancholy mileage out of poems like Keeping Things Whole: 

KEEPING THINGS WHOLE 

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

 

I remember Strand’s Elegy For My Father was particularly impactful too, especially this second section of the long poem. It rendered the complexities and contradictions of truth—the truth of truth—which my sixteen year old self intuited but could not yet articulate (still often can’t).

ANSWERS

Why did you travel?
Because the house was cold.
Why did you travel?
Because it is what I have always done between sunset and sunrise.
What did you wear?
I wore a blue suit, a white shirt, yellow tie, and yellow socks.
What did you wear?
I wore nothing. A scarf of pain kept me warm.
Who did you sleep with?
I slept with a different woman each night.
Who did you sleep with?
I slept alone. I have always slept alone.
Why did you lie to me?
I always thought I told the truth.
Why did you lie to me?
Because the truth lies like nothing else and I love the truth.
Why are you going?
Because nothing means much to me anymore.
Why are you going?
I don’t know. I have never known.
How long shall I wait for you?
Do not wait for me. I am tired and I want to lie down.
Are you tired and do you want to lie down?
Yes, I am tired and I want to lie down.

 

Yes, I am tired and I want to lie down. Wherever I am I am what is missing.

Who was that teenage girl? I can barely remember. But I know those words were my truth, that I found a mirror and comfort in them. I needed them then in a way that I can barely feel or fathom anymore. And perhaps they are the reason I no longer need them with such intensity, if that makes sense. They got me to a different place, a place where they wouldn’t be needed so much, or needed for other reasons. Those lines mean something different to me now and their meaning will change again and again, though they remain the same.

Thanks be to poetry. Thanks be to words and the writers who write them, knowing we might yet still need them long after they are gone. Thank you Mr. Strand.

LINES FOR WINTER 

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

 

I still had two friends, but they were trees…

The Two Trees
by Larry Levis

My name in Latin is light to carry & victorious.

I’d read late in the library, then
Walk out past the stacks, rows, aisles

Of books, where the memoirs of battles slowly gave way
To case histories of molestation & abuse.

The black windows looked out onto the black lawn.

~

Friends, in the middle of this life, I was embraced
By failure. It clung to me & did not let go.
When I ran, brother limitation raced

Beside me like a shadow. Have you never
Felt like this, everyone you know,

Turning, the more they talked, into . . .

Acquaintances? So many strong opinions!

And when I tried to speak—
Someone always interrupting. My head ached.
And I would walk home in the blackness of winter.

I still had two friends, but they were trees.
One was a box elder, the other a horse chestnut.

I used to stop on my way home & talk to each

Of them. The three of us lived in Utah then, though
We never learned why, me, acer negundo, & the other
One, whose name I can never remember.

“Everything I have done has come to nothing.
It is not even worth mocking,” I would tell them
And then I would look up into their limbs & see
How they were covered in ice. “You do not even
Have a car anymore,” one of them would answer.

All their limbs glistening above me,
No light was as cold or clear.

 

I got over it, but I was never the same,

Hearing the snow change to rain & the wind swirl,
And the gull’s cry, that it could not fly out of.

In time, in a few months, I could walk beneath
Both trees without bothering to look up
Anymore, neither at the one

Whose leaves & trunk were being slowly colonized by
Birds again, nor at the other, sleepier, more slender

One, that seemed frail, but was really

Oblivious to everything. Simply oblivious to it,
With the pale leaves climbing one side of it,
An obscure sheen in them,

And the other side, for some reason, black bare,
The same, almost irresistible, carved indifference

In the shape of its limbs

As if someone’s cries for help
Had been muffled by them once, concealed there,

Her white flesh just underneath the slowly peeling bark

—while the joggers swerved around me & I stared—

Still tempting me to step in, find her,

And possess her completely

Rag Tag & Sundry

A periodic news and reading roundup

(or: the most interesting, weird and worthwhile ways I procrastinated of late).

I am procrastinating writing about my trip to Seattle for this year’s AWP conference. There’s a lot to process, a lot to think about. I learned a lot.

And in the spirit of ever and always learning…

Quel wonderful!

The Writing University is offering free, online courses in creative writing and literary analysis. Associated with and supported by the University of Iowa, classes are a combination of readings and audio/visual recordings.

I just signed up for their first course, a close reading of the wonderful poem, Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman. The course officially started in February but, as there are no assignments or other requirements, I believe it’s not too late for you to sign up too!

Walt Whitman

Another exciting discovery (and by discovery I mean that I just found out about something everyone else already knows) is the Writing Lessons feature on The American Scholar website.

Each Monday a poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, or a scholar recalls a piece of advice or an experience that was most helpful to their writing career. I like this tiny essay On Weirdness by Nathaniel Rich.

“Life is extraordinarily weird. Art must be weirder.”

And on a completely unrelated note (or maybe not), this GoPro video of a pelican learning to fly is the best. The best!

Bye!

Some woman’s hair…

I’m thinking today about gender and hair. A slight leap from my last post about a poem but, in fact, it segues nicely.

In the final verse of September 1913, Yeats offers an insight into the “delirium of the brave” – those exiled hero rebel men, Emmet and Wolfe Tone, Fitzgerald and O’Leary.  Bravery and heroism, he suggests, are titles we confer retroactively. The actions of the true-hearted hero are never apprehended in their own time but, rather, they are thought to be reckless and crazed by those who do not understand.

Notice the catalyst of their insanity:

…Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’…

Proximity to the dangerously alluring female and her intoxicating hair can cause a man to go crazy, do things he ought not to do. His actions are her beautiful fault. How many times a day do we see such line of reasoning offered as justification or defense for some crime or disgrace?

The body is a battleground and hair is a captivating, complex prop in the theater of that war.

***

All this month in Her Kind (a literary community powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts), writers, artists and poets are “exploring the link between identity and hair, as well as its histories, realities and fantasies.”

Thus far: In To Hair or Not to Hair?, Millicent Accardi discusses women’s body hair and shaving, wondering why even the most ardent feminists still succumb to the deeply embedded notion of the hairless female. And in Hair as Storyteller and Reimaginator, Imani Tolliver and Beth Gilstrap converse about why we care so much about our hair and I can definitely relate to this insight by Gilstrap:

“Perhaps hair is the definition of vulnerability, our attempt to control some aspect of our own physicality and external lives when all else is so difficult? Our shapes. Our minds. Our bones. Our diseases. Our losses. All so elusive, but baby, we can hack away at my hair.”

When I was a child, I inexplicably began to pull out my hair. It was many years later before I would know that this compulsion had a name – trichotillomania – and that I wasn’t alone in my often heartbreaking behaviour. It would be many more years still before I would be able to acknowledge or even dream about writing this sentence, here, for anyone to read.

But somehow I find myself in a place where I’m okay with all my quirks and ‘insanities’ and this weird thing doesn’t define me, though it has certainly been defining and determining in the past: I have been shaped by it but now I am trying to shape it in turn, turn it into something else and new.

My short essay – Pull – is now up on the Her Kind website. And I feel like I’m in good company there.

Romantic Ireland’s Dead and Gone.

September 1913

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

WB Yeats

Yeats’ poem was published on this day a century ago in The Irish Times newspaper and its power and meaning have not diminished with the years.

The scorn he spits upon the country’s ugly materialism – and cultural-spiritual poverty – resonates today. Its elegiac refrain is well known by most Irish people and, in the recent recession, has been cited in the most bitter and sorry of tones.

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone.

I’ve whispered it myself. When words have failed me, and I have failed them.

(I don’t know what to say of empty shop-fronts and ghost neighbourhoods, so many suicides and fields of abandoned horses. I don’t know what to say. As much as I loved my time at home this summer, I was saddened and troubled by the weariness and hardness I saw on so many people’s faces.)

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone.

Poetry is proof. These lines act as a witness to reality; when you cannot believe your own eyes, they corroborate the story, say what you know and can’t say any better.

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone. It’s with O’Leary in the grave. But who the fuck’s O’Leary?

I tell you now I didn’t know. Or, if I ever did at some point, had casually forgotten. I wonder if half the people who’ve invoked his name through the lines of the poem could tell you who the man was or what he stood – or fell – for. It’s a sad state of affairs when, with no heroes of your own to mourn, an ancient stranger’s name will do. As well him as another. (There are no others). Tragically, the best known O’Leary in today’s Ireland is the one fumbling in his greasy, no-frills airline, till. But nobody’s going to Paris or Faro, no. It’s back to the building-sites, down the down under mines. Brothers, sisters, friends: going about the world like wind.

Was it for this the wild geese spread the grey wing upon every tide?

Poetry is pretty, deceptive. The wild geese, the grey wing. Alliteration lures me to an enchanted place, wild, idyllic, free: romantic.

But sound and meaning are not the same thing. Beautiful words can be used to describe terrible things. The wild geese were those Irish men who went away to serve as soldiers in wars that weren’t their own. Blood was shed. What kind of romance is this? What kind of Ireland is being mourned here?

Yeats’ poem is compelling and I find myself nodding in agreement of feeling. And yet, ultimately, I don’t know what exactly he is saying is dead and gone or if I quite understand his vision of the romantic. I know that something has been lost, that something is broken in the country. One hundred long years later, much remains the same and the Ireland in this old poem seems familiar to me. But, while poetry can comfort and console, I want words that move towards a solution, rather than wallowing in lamentation for a world that never existed.

I can’t imagine what Ireland will look like in another hundred years. I can only hope that we find new words and better heroes and – as lovely as it is – that this poem will lose its truth in time and we can lay ourselves to rest.

Stream And Sun At Glendalough

I’m at home in Ireland for the month of August.

Early this week, I walked part of The Wicklow Way with Ian and my brother and sister. We wound our way from Dublin to Glendalough – a 6th century monastic settlement in a glacial valley – and lingered a day longer. It was so lovely.

Stream and Sun at Glendalough

This is a poem by William Butler Yeats, written there.

Stream and Sun at Glendalough

Through intricate motions ran
Stream and gliding sun
And all my heart seemed gay:
Some stupid thing that I had done
Made my attention stray.

Repentance keeps my heart impure;
But what am I that dare
Fancy that I can
Better conduct myself or have more
Sense than a common man?

What motion of the sun or stream
Or eyelid shot the gleam
That pierced my body through?
What made me live like these that seem
Self-born, born anew?

Monastic City, Glendalough

More alive than you’ve ever been.

Ordeal

I promise to make you more alive than you’ve ever been.
For the first time you’ll see your pores opening
like the gills of a fish and you’ll hear
the noise of blood in galleries
and feel light gliding on your corneas
like the dragging of a dress across the floor.
For the first time, you’ll note gravity’s prick
like a thorn in your heal,
and your shoulder blades will hurt from the imperative of wings.
I promise to make you so alive that
the fall of dust on furniture will deafen you,
and you’ll feel your eyebrows like two wounds forming
and your memories will seem to begin
with the creation of the world.

by Nina Cassian.

finland floating

Rain rain, go away. Or who I am will drift away…

Lately, I have been — I don’t know if obsessed is the word, but let’s say intensely aware, yes — intensely aware of the moon.

Or rather, the moon’s absence.

Not that the moon has gone anywhere. It is, I believe, still out there doing its moon thing. It’s just that I can’t see it. Pesky rainclouds and misty mornings.

I don’t know if I was ever conscious of the moon before. I grew up in Ireland and now I live in the Pacific Northwest where the skies are not often clear. One doesn’t care too much for what one cannot see (out of sight, out of mind).

For almost a year, though, when I was away travelling in India and SE Asia, and the days and nights were bright and cloudless, I became one acquainted with the night sky. Now I am home, a slow and steady rain falls, obscuring everything, and I am missing the moon.

I began to consult this Moon Phase Calendar in the Old Farmer’s Almanac to see what was going on out there. Today, though I cannot see it, I know that just beyond the clouds the waning moon is 17% illuminated and looks a little like this:

The Moon, 17% illuminated.

I’ve been posting regular lunar updates and photographs on the book of faces and the tweeter. Some friends began to take pity on me (gentle lunatic) and have sent me some wonderful things like this video that shows the moon’s phases and libration throughout the year 2013.

I don’t really understand it (and I had to look up the word libration) but it’s mesmeric and oddly moving.

˜

Yes, there is a lot that I don’t understand and I want to do something about that. So myself, the mister, and another friend have signed up for one of Coursera’s many free classes: Introduction to Astronomy from Duke University. The class started last week and there is some algebra that is terrifying to me but I’m excited. In fact, I should really be doing that right now as there’s a lot to catch up on but I just want to share one more thing.

The loveliest book I have read all year is the poet Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures Madness, Rack, and HoneyOne of my favourite of her lectures is on Poetry and the Moon. Among many insights and ruminations, she sees the moon as: “…the incunabulum of photography, as the first photograph, the first stilled moment, the first study in contrasts. Me here — you there.”

Though, she acknowledges:

As Paul Auster points out in in his novel Moon Palace, it really goes like this — “You there — me here.” Land maps, the art of cartography, did not exist, could not exist, until after the astronomers flourished: “A man can’t know where he is on earth except in relation to the moon or a star…. A here exists only in relationship to a there, not the other way around.” The there must come first. The moon is very clearly the Other – capital O, full moon O — in relationship to which we stand and exist. Every glance at the moon, in whatever phase, pinpoints our existence on earth.

So.

You can see what how perplexing it’s been that I haven’t been able to see it for so long. If there is no moon ‘There’, then where am I left standing ‘Here’? Rain rain, go away, or who I am will drift away. Though, perhaps it’s just a phase I’m going through…

The Moon's Phases

After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

Mmm, Autumn, Fall, however you say it.

I went apple tasting today. I like the names even more than the flavours somehow: Ashmead’s Kernel, Criterion, Elstar. Ginger Golden, Jonagold, Honeycrisp. Newtown Pippin and Northern Spy. Spartan, Spitzenberg. Buckeye Gala, Lady, Ambrosia.

My belly is full of tart and crisp, fresh and juicy. I also drank some cider and now I’m sleepy.

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

by Robert Frost.

The Harvest Moon

Tonight, the full moon will rise to meet Uranus in the Northern night-sky.

I will be somewhere, watching. I have no vegetable garden or crops to gather, but I will think of all the things that I am ready to reap.

The Harvest Moon

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

– by Ted Hughes.

The Man in the Moon & The Moon in Man

I came across some lovely Moon Lore a couple of weeks ago, a Victorian collection of superstition and mythology, written just eighty-four years before man set foot upon it. How sadly serendipitous.

Neil Armstrong passed away today. Imagine. Most of us have only one moment when we leave this world and step into the dark unknown. Imagine looking back on a life that contains intimate memories of the moon.

I don’t think I can.

Footprint on the Moon

The moon is as incomprehensible to me now as it was to those who watched, transfixed, that giant leap of discovery and investigation in 1969. Perhaps one day it will seem as common as a spoon, but I doubt it.

I like to think that we won’t ever know so much that we can completely disregard these gorgeous myths and legends and fancy. These are some I especially like, mostly from Moon Lore (1885) but some other places too.

The Man in the Moon

I was surprised to see how many cultures share a concept of the Man in the Moon.

Many myths originated biblically, says author of Moon Lore, Timothy Harley.

A French superstition regarded the man in the moon as Judas Iscariot, transported to the moon for his treason. And, the Jewish have a Talmudic tradition that Jacob is in the moon, though the Hebrew Scriptures make no mention of the myth.

A Trip to the Moon, Le Voyage Dans la Lune, G Melies 1902

“The Chinese ‘Old Man in the Moon’ is known as Yue-lao, and is reputed to hold in his hands the power of predestining the marriages of mortals–so that marriages, if not, according to the native idea, exactly made in heaven, are made somewhere beyond the bounds of earth.”

“Among the Khasias of the Himalaya Mountains “the changes of the moon are accounted for by the theory that this orb, who is a man, monthly falls in love with his wife’s mother, who throws ashes in his face”

For the aborigines of New Zealand, it is quoted from D’Urville by De Rougemont in his Le Peuple Primitif as follows:

“Before the moon gave light, a New Zealander named Rona went out in the night to fetch some water from the well. But he stumbled and unfortunately sprained his ankle, and was unable to return home. All at once, as he cried out for very anguish, he beheld with fear and horror that the moon, suddenly becoming visible, descended towards him. He seized hold of a tree, and clung to it for safety; but it gave way, and fell with Rona upon the moon; and he remains there to this day.”

The Man in the Moon? She is Woman, non?

“In English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek, the moon is feminine; but in all the Teutonic tongues the moon is masculine. Which of the twain is its true gender?”

“The moon, it has been said, was viewed as of the masculine gender in respect of the earth, whose husband he was supposed to be; but as a female in relation to the sun, as being his spouse.”

“The woman in the moon as a myth does not obtain to any extent in Europe; she is to be found chiefly in Polynesia, and among the native races of North America.”

“In Samoa, we are told that the moon came down one evening, and picked up a woman, called Sina, and her child. It was during a time of famine. She was working in the evening twilight, beating out some bark with which to make native cloth. The moon was just rising, and it reminded her of a great bread-fruit. Looking up to it, she said, ‘Why cannot you come down and let my child have a bit of you?’ The moon was indignant at the idea of being eaten, came down forthwith, and took her up, child, board, mallet, and all. The popular superstition is not yet forgotten in Samoa of the woman in the moon. ‘Yonder is Sina,’ they say, ‘and her child, and her mallet, and board.”

Perhaps it is neither Man nor Woman. Perhaps it is Hare or Toad, who knows?

Buddhist legend Sakyamuni as a Hare in the Moon

One thing is for certain though:

The Man in the Moon Drinks Claret

“Several astronomers assert the absence of water in the moon; if this be the case, what is the poor man to drink?”

“The man in the moon drinks claret,
But he is a dull Jack-a-Dandy;
Would he know a sheep’s head from a carrot,
He should learn to drink cyder and brandy.”

The Man In The Moon Drinks Claret

Ah, I love it!

The moon, of course, has endlessly fascinated and inspired us. There is so much more written besides and beyond Reverend Harley’s Moon Lore, though I think it is a wonderful source.

Some caution against its exploration:

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous” – Thomas Merton.

But I prefer those – like Carl Sandburg who often turned to the moon as muse – who regard it in whimsy and wonder through the eyes of a child:

Child Moon 
The child’s wonder
At the old moon
Comes back nightly.
She points her finger
To the far silent yellow thing
Shining through the branches
Filtering on the leaves a golden sand,
Crying with her little tongue, “See the moon!”
And in her bed fading to sleep
With babblings of the moon on her little mouth.

The Moon from Space

I could go on and on forever… to the moon and back! But I shall go now, and look forward to this Friday’s rare blue moon, all be it in name only. Perhaps I’ll hear some Moon myths and poems from you, I’d love that. What I’ll be thinking of, though, is that most of us have to settle for staring up and scribbling lovely words. It’s a rare man who knows what He or She, Hare or Toad, is truly like. RIP Mr Armstrong.

Sentences are orphaned words crossing the road, holding on tightly.

I’m reading a lot of sentences about sentences lately.

There’s Stanley Fish’s How To Write A Sentence and How To Read One.

And, yesterday, Verlyn Klinkenborg (author of Several Short Sentences About Writing) asked the deceptively simple question “Where Do Sentences Come From?”  I liked it. I like his admonishment to be comfortable in that dark, cavernous place called the mind: patient in the presence of your own thoughts.

This is another answer to the question:

It comes precisely from that dark cavern but it stays fearful, quick and cautious. And, more importantly, it doesn’t seek to expound or demystify. It answers our call while remaining deliciously mysterious, sad and eerie.

A poem’s eight short lines taught me more than any book I’ve read this week. Sentences are orphaned words crossing the road, holding on tightly. They come from the Children’s Home and it’s our job to convey them carefully.