On ‘the Shadow of Austerity’ in Greek Poetry - The New Yorker’s David Wallace introduces readers to a new anthology, Austerity Measures, which collects Greek poets’ responses to the nation’s financial d...
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Mining old journals
Every season proposes itself anew; we think we've been here before, generally speaking, if not here exactly. Those of us who have the bad habit of keeping journals might, however, testify otherwise. How often I repeat myself, and then forget I've done so.
17 November is forever a melancholic day in my books, dark, sleepy, overwhelming, insomniac, filled up with too many tasks, and, across 30 years, rough stabs at poetry.
In 2012 I wrote:
Once upon a time, or so it seemed, I forgot nothing. Now my memory flaps and comes unraveled like the clothing pegged to the line and whipping in the breeze. Everything tatters over time.
Weary. A surge of sunshine would make a difference. So too would more sleep. A walk. The end of terms. It is coming. So much to do still: I shall never approach having done enough.
Outside, the pop pop of someone shooting. Duck hunting? Or chasing deer out over the peninsula: Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! I try to ignore it, but that doesn't work very well. Whatever is fine, we humans must kill.
Rain in the night, and leaks of course....I am so tired, so deeply asleep, so immersed in dreams that are but tatters and shadows of colours now; I remember nothing but waking to find the cat curled into my side, her fur soft beneath my hand, sleep like a dark cowl upon my face....
Have to go for a long walk soon!
The fire burns, the dogs sigh and rearrange themselves nearby, adjusting both limbs and jowls. I pour myself a glass of milk, drink, and try to settle myself so that I can go back to sleep. The power went off just after dark--we'd fed the dogs and luckily, I'd made a vegetable caraway stew in the afternoon. It was done and and still warm. So we ate early by candlelight, stoked the fire, listened to the sudden eerie silence at the center of the storm, and then the rain and wind slamming into the walls and windows again. Finally, in darkness, we went early to bed.
And then I awoke. [A long list of tasks follows].
3 am. I wake up in a sweat, the water just pouring off of me. I've been in a deep sleep. I feel vulnerable, frightened, but I don't know why. I feel desolate, unable to protect myself. I am afraid I won't have any time to myself. [A long list of tasks and social engagements follows.] I am afraid of leaving the idiotic safety net of my job, of indebtedness, of immobility, of temporal madness. Making time more elastic--something I have to learn.
I'm too tired to write a poem--it's about 2 am and I have to get up tomorrow morning for brunch with A's mother, but I still saw something:
Artificial feather roses and
old movie posters and
tattered postcards and
block party announcements and
old bead necklaces in
small wooden boxes with
cough drop wrappers and a
button collection and
the radio playing muzak-jazz
thinking about how
the skin of my brain is stretching
and there is a sharp pain
in the small of my back.
These beds may be too narrow,
but who cares?
Pictures were taken over the course of several autumns at various locations on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia--Sober Island, Taylor's Head Provincial Park, private lands near Malay Falls, and in West Quoddy.