Creation Myth

October 23, 2018

Born again on a Monday
under a broken zodiac.

My father the woodman, a surgeon among snags,
could read the living trail of blades rebounding
in the field, the mopped-matte passage through the dew.

He woke a brush pile with fire
throwing shadows on the child, I was
thrown over.

Father, it was a pleasure to meet you
on this luminous route between two lives.

In this impromptu pool reaped from rain
where mosquitoes multiply.

Though survival, I’m told, is impersonal
and without teleological purpose.
Malaria is just trying to maximize its own fitness

as are the corporations who, for palm oil set
the peatlands ablaze and drained the water table.

Dense haze from the sea
choked the light from day

suffused our mountain
in a numinous red corona.
And as for the getting over

there will be no ascension,
no circumambulation,
there is only going through.

We must go through it.

Lisa Wells

charged with presentiments

October 23, 2018

Scotland Fog - Skyler Brown

Writing on the subject of Innocence and Memory, the Italian poet Ungaretti noted that if memory referred only to the past, it would lead to despair. Instead, he called memory a word ‘charged with presentiments,’ which opens forwards as well as backwards in time and thereby contains seeds of renewal — echoing the myth of Mnemosyne who gave birth to the muses who tell of what is and what will be as well as what was.

Words have this range, Ungaretti observed, because of the imprecise personal associations that they evoke. What lifts a word from the pages of a dictionary to make it a living force with the potential of approaching truth is not its denotation but its connotations: ‘this margin of infinite allusions through which imagination and emotion can wander.’ This margin of connotations derives from experience with particular people, places, and things, and their related words. Through these imprecise associations, Ungaretti argued, words most accurately articulate experience, as their indeterminacy lives actually within ourselves. We ourselves are compounds of error, ambiguity, and possibility which overflow bare denotation. Poetry, said Ungaretti, has always used this allusive quality of memory in order to approximate reality.

Louise Chawla
In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry, and Childhood Memory

Nature will not name itself

October 23, 2018

There are experiences of landscape that will always resist articulation, and of which words offer only a distant echo. Nature will not name itself. Granite doesn’t self-identify as igneous. Light has no grammar. Language is always late for its subject… But we are and always have been name-callers, christeners. Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes grained into our words.

Robert MacFarlane
The Word-Hoard: Robert MacFarlane on rewilding our language of landscape