Friday, April 21, 2006

Some falling, some rising.

When the ends of my weeks are occupied by grading (with all the actual grading and profuse not-grading that process involves), I find myself just plain tired. But today the dogwood bloomed in full force (and it's red--somehow I'd forgotten), and we had a low-rumbling spring thunderstorm, locatable enough by its sound that I could point to the clouds that were making all the fuss. And rain: first, drizzle; then, a torrent, a spraying, water water everywhere, bringing in its train a continued shower of fat, souring pink and white petals. On the ground, they grow thin and slippery, treacherous, their smell unplaceable. But today the dogwood bloomed in full force, as if in consolation.

Someone has moved the dragon yet again; he disappeared last night, but today he rematerialized, leaning up against a newly sprouted hosta, at a jaunty angle (which suits him).

We're on to our final book in one course, getting ready to start the final book in another, careening toward the home stretch in all. This morning, as we prepared to plunge into discussing the exhuming of mass graves in eastern Bosnia, ca. 1996, one of my students registered aloud the strangeness of having hit the end of the semester as swiftly as we suddenly have. Later, I realized that it's been a couple of semesters since I've been able to articulate for my students the nostalgia that I used to feel (and tell them about) well in advance of a semester's end. I still feel it to some degree, but that proleptic feeling of missing them is far less pronounced than is my elemental desire to make it through the all the work still before me, and to make it through in one reasonably rested piece.

I continue to marvel quietly at how much disintegration spring requires.

And dissolution, too. I forgot to tell you that two nights ago, I dreamed: a colleague (from another department) and I found ourselves the only two survivors of a sunken ship, some kind of exploratory vessel. We wore large diving masks and wetsuits. "Don't breathe through your nose," he told me. "That oxygen's all we've got left." Somehow, we were breathing through our mouths, and the air we were taking in was coming from our masks and was thus finite, but somehow we weren't dying (and I don't think we were even very scared; I seem to recall that we had tasks to complete and were going about completing them). And then we were taken in by people who weren't rescuers but were our friends. But we knew that we were going to be put back into the wreck, in our masks, to await a proper, foretold rescue. "Can't we just stay?" I kept asking him. He (and others) kept insisting that we had to play out the predetermined narrative.

This wet night, as I washed my face, getting ready for bed, the burble of the water from the bathroom faucet made a sound like the rained-upon red cardinal singing my afternoon at the top of the maple tree while I graded.


Blogger ttractor said...

Oh, I envy your easy access to a dogwood. I saw my first dogwood today, running errands, so it would be a long trek indeed to get a daily dose. And I also saw wisteria, climbing all the way to the top of the Kurdish Library, some early roses, and wood violets.

There are not a lot of magnolias here, so not the odious slippery browning masses, which, along with mimosas and azaleas, I cannot abide, having lived with them and their veneration too long down south.

10:39 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous dagger aleph said...

Proleptic 'missing.'

This phenomenon needed a name, and by god, we've now got one.


1:56 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Presumably, I'm allowed to keep telling you when you write yet another favorite? Loved this one. "Profuse not-grading" is a perfect phrase.

How come the discussion about Bosnia?

3:14 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger *Bat*Girl* said...

Glad to know that I'm not alone in the morass of grading. 61 papers, 16 presentations, and 35 final exams to go. . . time to compose haiku?

3:34 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

@ttractor: I've been trying to get pictures of the light ones today, too, but they're harder for me to come by in Gambier, for some reason--not that they're not here, just that they're not easily accessible.

@dag: you're welcome: any time I can make a narratological term serve an everyday need, I'm a happy woman.

@nick: you are always sweet. my not-grading has risen to such fecund profusion this year that you should be sensing it all the way over by you. Bosnia: because we're reading Brkic's The Stone Fields in my morning class right now. I had the gruesome realization on Friday that Peress's photograph of the mass grave near Srebrenica is actually a perfect image for the narrative construction not only of Stone Fields but also of Beloved. Suddenly traumatized narratives look very different.

@batgirl: it occurs to me that I could actually publish the haiku now, but they were so snarky that perhaps I will keep them semi-private...

5:42 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Ooo! A good verification word:


5:42 PM, April 22, 2006  

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