Stories and poems

"The metaphoric image of 'orphan lines' is a contrivance of the detached onlooker to whom the verbal art of continuous correspondences remains aesthetically alien. Orphan lines in poetry of pervasive parallels are a contradiction in terms, since whatever the status of a line, all its structure and functions are indissolubly interlaced with the near and distant verbal environment, and the task of linguistic analysis is to disclose the levels of this coaction. When seen from the inside of the parallelistic system, the supposed orphanhood, like any other componential status, turns into a network of multifarious compelling affinities.'
Roman JAKOBSON, "Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet", Language, 42/2, 1966, pp. 399-429, p. 428-429

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Rain, and Gardens

Rain. My pants are wet because even if it rains I still have to go teach those little boys English and even though yesterday, in preparation, I bought a wonderful yellow bike poncho, I didn't fully understand how to use it until I was almost done with my ride. You can put the yellow poncho all the way over your hands and the handlebars. That is what the poncho is for, in fact, but I didn't understand that until my hands were cold and my pant legs were wet. I was happy that the rest of me was dry, my wool jacket and backpack. I am now enjoying the relative dry warmth of my office.

October just came. I ignored the fall and kept on riding and hiking and writing. Or re-reading. Mostly I've been re-reading, and correcting, then re-reading again. Does it make more sense this time? Do I understand it better now? Soon I will hand in pages, I have already handed in some. I will hand in some more. Nobody cares about how much time it takes to make a sentence right. What I'm interested in now is finishing. I gave myself deadlines. I shared them with my advisor. But we are all busy with la rentrée and she hasn't taken the time to read them yet. That is just as well. I still have some time, to turn another sentence around.

I am wearing glasses because the doctor told me the computer screen tires my eyes; my eyes don't work together. The prescription in my glasses is an old one, and I need to renew it. But for now they will have to do because I can't afford new ones. I feel my eyes are protected nevertheless. My eyes were red and tired and itchy. I have a sty that won't go away, and a cold sore. The results of a summer of work? My eyes are tired of writing. My eyes are tired of the world. I don't always like what I see. I wrote a poem about that. It isn't finished yet.

Here is a memory, of a garden, with friends, after the rain.

In the Garden After the Rain

The smell of water on grass
or as it begins to fall
on dust and stone.

The precise movements of birds,
from limb to branch,
from tree to roof.

The dark light penumbral,
wet grass running,
the lightness of bodies
in the garden after the rain.

It may have been spring, it may have been the fall. I'm not sure anymore, but I forgot, through all this sunny autumn, how much I like the rain, even when I have to ride in it and I am wet. Even when I hate the cars, hate the buses, hate the city rising up and around, hate being pushed around. I love the rain, and I can imagine the world as one big garden. 

There is a Jack Gilbert poem I love about gardens:

Ovid in Tears

Love is like a garden in the heart, he said.
They asked him what he meant by garden.
He explained about gardens. “In the cities,”
he said, “there are places walled off where color
and decorum are magnified into a civilization.
Like a beautiful woman,” he said. How like
a woman, they asked. He remembered their wives
and said garden was just a figure of speech,
then called for drinks all around. Two rounds
later he was crying. Talking about how Charlemagne
couldn’t read but still made a world. About Hagia
Sophia and putting a round dome on a square
base after nine hundred years of failure.
The hand holding him slipped and he fell.
“White stone in the white sunlight,” he said
as they picked him up. “Not the great fires
built on the edge of the world.” His voice grew
fainter as they carried him away. “Both the melody
and the symphony. The imperfect dancing
in the beautiful dance. The dance most of all.”

I went to Marseille for a last weekend of summer. White light and white cliffs, the soft blue sea sweetly supporting me. I keep returning to that memory, as if to a garden.

I haven't cried in while.

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