Many worlds

September 1, 2019

I don’t think the world is the way we like to think it is. I don’t think it’s one solid world, but many, thousands upon thousands of them – as many as there are people – because each person perceives the world in his or her own way; each lives in his or her own world. Sometimes they connect, for a moment, or more rarely, for a lifetime, but mostly we are alone, each living in our own world, suffering our small deaths.

Charles de Lint
Dreams Underfoot

It makes sense to begin on the ceiling. To begin pressed against the limits of the room, whether in solitude, asylum, or restraint, beyond which spread the injunctions of the world. I envision a body shot up to the ceiling suddenly imbued with a split perspective: that of the body on the ceiling and that of the body on the ground. Isn’t there always one left? The perspective of mutual confrontation, each body bound to the tension between, the distance, a cube, like a fractured embrace — though maybe the room itself is an invention, walls crumbled, out of bounds. That is where Yanara Friedland begins. She walked, for example — among other borders, traces and ruins, natural and artificially enforced — the former East-West division through Germany. It was summer. The exigencies of life, of survival, and the forces that hang them in the shadows of violence, have inflected the gravity of so many bodies that maybe gravity has reversed, and that people who have been pushed beyond their extent, are the ennoblements of the living, looking back. To look (back) at one’s body from a limit, a place of exile; to attempt to re-member oneself with an imagination forged, by necessity, out of that distance; to look at one’s bodies, held in a fractured embrace, despite, or because of, the collapse of the world. The space between may be the price of existence.

Brandon Shimoda

When it happened

August 9, 2019

It could be a little rectangle of sunlight
sitting on the windowsill at dawn
preserved for as long as the earth
sits still and for what reason
but for any number of reasons
it could be a wren in the branches
turning its head toward the shadow
of light at the woman who sits
slumped in a chair, dead.

It could be the inner coherence of nature
when a breeze kicks over
knocking the screen door open then shut
or the instinct of a neighbour who stops by
for coffee and a cigarette, it could be
the soul’s animosity that complicates
the balance of things, loosening the breeze,
throwing the curtain open, creating consequences.
It could be terror announcing itself.
It could be anything.

There is no way of knowing.

Lisa Zaran

Light and Clay

July 21, 2019

“Will the dust praise thee?”—Psalm 30:9

The page was a place
before morality
before Gilgamesh
before the second prophet
of revealed law

The page was a hybrid
of value and valuelessness
a hybrid of community
and selfishness
a foster child of devotion

The page was experience
in semantic terms
a folie a deux
a terminal location

Cowboys and princes
offered their lives
the cult of the dead
worshipped there too
lacking in value
it saw only faces

The page was a room,
a picnic, a heaven
the utopia of words
in a region of want

The page was a bride groom,
a bride and a lover,
the child of the union
of religion and anarchy

“I will reflect it,” the page
said on Sunday
“I will absorb it,”
the page meant to add

Between death and rebirth
the page stood waiting
words came to call
speechless at best

Maxine Chernoff

Persephone’s behaviour

March 10, 2019

We the daughters of the twenty first century are not mystified by Persephone’s behaviour. In school, we learn that Persephone is frolicking in a field when Hades kidnaps her and take her underground. Persephone’s mother Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, freaks out. Every plant in the world dies. Eventually Persephone is found… she looks anorexic. Hades says that she can leave if she must but first why doesn’t she eat this. It’s not till she emerges into the weird sunlight — it’s not till she’s in her mother’s kitchen sipping pumpkin soup—it’s not till Demeter sighs with relief to know her daughter didn’t eat anything down there — that Persephone makes her confession about the six pomegranate seeds…What Persephone will never mention is the rich unending night, the earthy smell of scotch on his breath, the way he mocked the universe and everyone in it but was so tender with the dead, with her, with beasts and ghosts. How low his voice got when he told her attempts would be made to separate them. Now, we the daughters of the twentyfirst century are going to marry men our mothers don’t quite love. These men seem dark to them, dangerous, lacking in good posture. We sit at our mothers’ tables, trying to explain why we have chosen to settle in distant, inhospitable cities…we suggest to our mothers that they read a certain Greek myth; they raise their eyebrows at us as they always do now-a-days; the grass begins to shrivel in the ground, and in the orchard the apples sicken on the branch.

Helen Phillips
The Mothers
And yet they were Happy

When Death Comes

January 22, 2019

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver

afraid of fantasy

August 25, 2018

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is 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.

Ursula K. LeGuin
Why Americans are Afraid of Dragons


August 12, 2018

Antigone:  For I am a strange new kind of inbetween aren’t I, not at home with the dead nor with the living.

Trans. Anne Carson

Now I Become Myself

May 24, 2018

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before – “
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

May Sarton

Start to feel

August 13, 2017