Sunday, November 19, 2006

What we have instead of fire, some nights.

Coming home from the pharmacy this afternoon, I saw a wild turkey standing in a neighbor's yard. It stood so still that I doubted my sight and went around the block to be sure that my neighbors hadn't bought a lawn turkey. By the time I got back to their corner, the turkey was limping across the highway. It's been a strange fall.

One of my favorite things about my institution's academic calendar is our week-long Thanksgiving vacation. We--by which I mean everyone in this tiny place--drive ourselves right up to the Friday before the holiday, and then we flee for a week (even if only to our own living rooms), and then we come back and drive ourselves through a last few weeks. In some ways, it's the most intense time of the year, especially for those of us who have seasonal affective disorder or anything like it. The vacation comes just before one breaking point, and I think its length staves off another. If I'm diligent--which I will be once again, in just a short time--I can accomplish the work I need to do and still get a few days of rest.

In the meantime, I've discovered the Be Good Tanyas. I don't understand why I didn't find them sooner.

So: this afternoon found me, come off yesterday's day of rest, sailing through our wintering palette--which, despite my love of brightness and my loathing of early dark, I have to admit I may love more than the summer's colors. Our shades of steel and straw are manifold these darkening days. There's a sadness to the sun's tentative appearances, and to the wash they give to the world's blacks and browns and pale blues, that offers me its own beauty this year. And with the fields cleared, my barns are blending differently than they have for months; white walls and a rusted roof grow differently from winter furrows than from their summer selves.

My world is remaking itself yet again, and in response I find myself wanting new eyes. I start making plans.

I make my plans by reading, as I have always done, as I cannot remember not doing. I gather my pieces, my curiosities, my talismen. I will show you my shards. Tristan Tzara, for one: "I speak of the one who speaks who speaks I am alone / I am only a little sound I have several sounds in me" (Approximate Man, part I). And the end of Elizabeth Bishop's "The Monument":
It may be solid, may be hollow.
The bones of the artist-prince may be inside
or far away on even drier soil.
But roughly but adequately it can shelter
what is within (which after all
cannot have been intended to be seen).
It is the beginning of a painting,
a piece of sculpture, or poem, or monument,
and all of wood. Watch it closely.
I am watching. I am. I've been given a different range of things to watch this week; I am not facing the things I had expected. I believe that this means that roughly but adequately I'm sheltering some other beginning. Watch closely.


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