'you would move
on the horizon You, the person, you
the particle fierce and furthering'
- from Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth - Adrienne Rich
Discombobulation was a word a friend of mine used often once upon a time ago, (they frequently felt bewildered and liked how the word, spoken made people laugh) now it's my word du jour on this strange menu I'm regarding with something like deja vu, even if it's as new as the day. Choose a mood, choose sad, bewildered, desirous, or discombobulated, the list goes on but those are the main emotions I'm fraught with now and the last one encompasses them all, so that's me. I'm officially rather messed up and there's nothing for it but to accept this state then gradually start to reorder myself to suit an entirely new attitude. Hopefully I can eat those moods and digest them, then revive myself.
I caught some extra open-heartedness in Amer i ca, from the wonderful friends I have there. I believe I'll never be the same again in other ways either. I like to be generous since it is after all the last thing we need to pay heed to, if we're to live a happy life, (one of these blog posts of mine has the recipe for happiness at the end of it, you may recall), and now I want to be even more generous in new ways. I'm more willing to be kind to myself I think.
Recalling fond memories has to be a part of that decency.
The day this April when I met Laura Lee and we walked down from my grand retro hotel which over-looked the park in Chicago, she took this photo below of the fountain outside the Art Institute. I'm so grateful she sent me some pictures since many of mine were stolen, with my laptop. (The Los Angeles Airport police told me today they would not report it as a theft since I did not see anyone actually take it. Since I have not had it returned however, it is not at lost and found after more than two weeks, to me it is stolen).
The photo below is lovely in any case and Chicago's art museum, 'the art institute' is a vast building with bronze lions outside, they're green with age and gaze out over the pedestrians and traffic as if a tundra rolls on by full of antelope and zebra for their lionesses to hunt. Laura and I were hunting for beauty, or rather for proof that other people could see beauty everywhere like we can. Art is our talisman against the ugly-mongers you see, those who try to tell us the world is a mean, narrow place full of dreck and ruin. Once we'd feasted on paintings and sculptures, on conversation and commentaries, we went into the members lounge and talked further.
If you are a member of the Art Institute in Chicago you get various privileges. http://www.artic.edu/aic/members_donors/members_discounts.html
|photo by Laura Lee - Chicago Art Institute fountain April 2012|
Laura took this snap of me when we were inside the building. How happy I appear. I felt some days there like I could burst with joy, so delighted to have planned and made the trip after so many years talking about it. Seeing these people I'd learnt so much about online and whose work I'd admired and discussed for all those many 12 or so years was a pleasure like nothing else, especially. I like to chant their names to myself, Dean Strom, Amy Tucker, Julie Payne, Laura Lee, Stephen Larson, James Browning Kepple, they're the writers I've known from writethis http://www.writethis and Creative Writers. There was also Anne Kennedy in Hawaii who I've got to know more lately, we share a NZ publisher (Auckland University Press), http://www.press.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/notices/
Adam http://www.gillico.com/ who I've only known for a couple of years but got to know well playing Scrabble online of all things, he also designed the book, Shamfeign for my small press, BF Publishing (named after my son and his best friend in all the universe - friendship's quite a theme here) http://shamfeign.blogspot.co.nz/ and Nigel who was my first-ever publisher Martian Way Press, he's from NZ but now lives in Chicago and is an architecture buff, so I was treated to a personal, highly informed tour of the city.
Laura is a fine poet, here is one of hers -
I Cannot Pass
I stumble along sides of roads,
out of time--
Mother, are those your bones?
I did not seek them
ashes are what I sought
in dust- bath time.
You taught me to stop and pray with bones
then move on, pass. Listen, the birds must be wrong;
it is not morning,
fireflies flash while birds sing
during this day-night time.
They light the path:
how white your bones
in the blink-blink gold.
Mother, I cannot pass.
We friends met in any case and I travelled for a month and half, in circumstances purely for love. I went to see these fine people in Amer ica because I love them and we all love writing, books and work published so others may see what we love, too.
We were all equally pleased and at ease with each other in various individual ways, as if we had certainly known each other well before and were only meeting again, except we had this extra cloud of delightedness about us since we'd only known each other on the internet, all were people scattered across the world and really, it was a supreme effort and extraordinarily expensive to see them all. Not to mention taxing on my emotional state, which is often not that erm...shall we say, easy to live with, (ha). It was a magical circumstance and still affects me as if I'm under a spell.
I keep dreaming they are here visiting me, some of them. Occasionally I have conversations with them as if they are here, (long discussions in my head. I can imagine what they'd say to just about anything, correctly or not, I do).
It was as Amy in Seattle said, like Christmas, (in April).
Katherine Mansfield said, 'I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.' Yes, we could just be ourselves and enjoy the company of another with some ease and much excitement.
Now, memory is serving me something I'm not sure I want to contemplate. Our memories are never the actual experience precisely over again, we adapt and change what we recall constantly to suit whoever we are at the time when we draw the thoughts back to ourselves, sometimes for comfort, or otherwise to inspire, to be reminded of a detail we need to relate to current events or suchlike. But my memories are fading and many of the photos I took were stolen with my laptop, even if I do have some more on other devices, so now what am I left with? The desire to go back there and to have friends visit me certainly, I am left with those great ideas but there is something else here in mind which is not at all welcome. I must rid myself of it as fast as I can, or it could take over and dark places are hardly a good place for anyone to dwell, are they. (No question mark, gloomy circumstances not good for people, especially this one, full-stop).
Poetry and art are the answer, I often say.
|Laura Lee took this in the Chicago Art Institute - a Renoir painting|
Coloured Fragments and the Rain
Those family gifts arrived all at once and late,
delivered in a haphazard pile by a depressed postie,
(lost their job that day, snapping at their supervisor).
Then the woman found the boxes torn apart by dogs.
Aged steaks in an insulated carton the cause for teeth,
her neighbour an eager amateur Sherlock
poked the parcel with a stick and read the label.
Vegetarian by then she could only stand back,
as if the rain-splattered paper would explode,
a volcano of missed anniversaries and parties.
She'd forgotten until she'd been away, the cruelty;
how some wit once sent her a kit-set cage
complete with a sign to hang on it about vermin,
(when she did the decent thing and self-imprisoned).
Later, she told a cat who visited the sunny concrete,
'I don't remember rain and wind crashing so before.'
Vast weather the previous evening from enormous oceans
shouted to her about deserts of ice and empty months,
while she lit candles and kept the bathwater;
poured grey stuff over intense plants - they leapt
each tend to find more sun and space.
'Safety and plenty have a price,' the magician said
when asked for another reading, in the booth.
Surrounded with tassels and an incense soak,
she saw the symbols flipped then laid to carpet
an empty mind-room with guests' photographs.
Cracks and creaks from her house settling to winter
on an old gravel swamp bed near a spring.
A lake close to the harbour - watery refuge;
the woman watched the rain, broke out of thought
raced into the deluge as if washed in light.
Her tuned voice split the sky and pierced
many stone hearts in the land with a ringing slice.
'You shall not place me in your tick tick boxes,
I curl here for another page, my truly own.'
Mornings the larger windows give towards up
while pebble glass captures and plays elsewhere.
'Here it is, the place I've turned myself around in,'
she laughed and soon fetched the better china.
While they wondered what bird called then,
someone built up a pile of unwanted thoughts
a good fire set with their talk and touch.