Yes, ‘I’m Happy’

February 1, 2020

I went looking for someplace to hide
the ocean. Selfish girl.
Trying to shut my eyes in a wave.
Line all the walls with water.

The ceiling keep screaming at me.
Dad too. Who knew
there was a continent called Zealandia
hiding in the Pacific
with a crust thicker than the ocean floor?

We live on top of plates
growing all our bodies and fir.
Blood oranges and hills.
We live like a pack of roads
howling over the earth.

I let my mouth open for language.
Siwihtâkanâpoy. Ocean brine.
Sometimes we pay for the things
we know. Soap in the mouth.
I’ve been told to expect damage.

Here’s an earthquake warning from the government:
Learn the Risks. There’s a 1 in 4 chance
you’ll be happy or shaken.

Selina Boan

Straight Talk from Fox

February 1, 2020

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary Oliver

in our garden

February 1, 2020

And so the one in our garden continued its growth peacefully, as did thousands like it in neglected spots all over the world. It was some little time later that the first one picked up its roots and walked.

John Wyndham
The Day of the Triffids

fantasy is true

February 1, 2020

I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing but a growing up: than an adult is not a dead child, but a child who has survived. I believe that all the best faculties of a mature human being exist in the child, and that if these faculties are encouraged in youth they will act wisely and well in the adult, but if they are repressed and denied in the child they will stunt and cripple the adult personality. And finally, I believe that one of most deeply human, and humane, of these faculties is the power of imagination: so that it is our pleasant duty, as librarians, or teachers, or parents, or writers, or simply as grownups, to encourage that faculty of imagination in our children, to encourage it to grow freely, to flourish like the green bay tree, by giving it the best, absolutely the the best and purest, nourishment that it can absorb. And never, under any circumstances, to squelch it, or sneer at it, or imply that it is childish, or unmanly, or untrue.

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it’s true. Children know that. Adults know it too and that’s precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom.

So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy – they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that’s more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: ‘Unicorns aren’t real.’ And that fact is one that never got anyone anywhere (except in the story ‘The Unicorn in the Garden,’ by another great fantasist, in which it is shown that a devotion to the unreality of unicorns may get you straight into the loony bin.) It is by such statements as, ‘Once upon a time there was a dragon,’ or ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ — it is by such beautiful non-facts that we fantastic human beings may arrive, in our peculiar fashion, at truth.

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Language of the Night

The mystery of music

February 1, 2020

The music of a people offers a unique entry into their unconscious life. The tenor of what haunts and delights them becomes audible there. The cry of a people is in their music. The mystery of music is its uncanny ability to coax harmony out of contradiction and chaos. Often the beauty of great music is a beauty born from the rasp of chaos. The confidence of creativity knows that deep conflict often yields the most interesting harmony and order. In the Irish tradition, we have sean-nós singing. This is a style of unaccompanied singing in the Irish language that has a primal tonality and a very beautiful rhythm. The resonance and style of sean-nós seems to mirror the landscape and sensibility of the people. There is a repertoire of these songs and they are sung over and over.

John O’Donahue
Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

the forest people

February 1, 2020

There’s a well-known illustration by Arthur Rackham in which the forest people, or fairies or sprites or goblins or whatever they are — the things that live in the roots of trees—are clambering up to get a view at the fabulous Man who is strolling through their forest. Even the trees themselves are watching, as the fairy folk hold up their young so they can see this strange monstrosity in a frock coat, with a stovepipe hat and spats.

Unsettling Wonder
The King in Kensington Gardens

Best fed by reality

February 1, 2020

I write fantasy because it’s there. I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination. Daydreaming. Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places. Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps.  It must be fed; it cannot be ignored. Making it tell the same tale over and over again makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke. It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something non-existent; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can’t be transformed into food for the imagination. It must be visited constantly, or else it begins to become restless and emit strange bellows at embarrassing moments; ignoring it only makes it grow larger and noisier. Content, it dreams awake, and spins the fabric of tales. There is really nothing to be done with such imagery except to use it: in writing, in art. Those who fear the imagination condemn it: something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten. Not all of us dream awake. But those of us who do have no choice.

Terri Windling
Patti Perret
Faces of Fantasy