“What Kind of Times Are These” (poem by Adrienne Rich)

What Kind of Times Are These

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

— Adrienne Rich

“Big Sigh in Springtime” (poem) (mine).

Big Sigh in Springtime

It’s complicated, you know: being alive, being outside

at the neighbors’ on one of the first warm nights in half a year,

and there’s a doll-sized lamb frolicking around the porch,

content to be free and not kicked by its mother, almost

too precious to look at. Before we walk the short distance

home, we hear the season’s first peeper: lone screech in the dark

in the beaver pond, waiting in exile until the hatching

of comrades. We walk back with our bowl and our spoons

and the sky all around us: we’re pooped. We’re in love

with each other and our dreams and exhausted.

There’s a car to be fixed and we need a new truck

that can handle the ice. There’s not a hint of crocus

for miles, this cold hilltop bowl unwilling to surrender

her wintertime ways. It’s been nearly a week

since I showered and I still have to choose how we’ll package

our oils to sell at our markets and tomorrow I’ll train

for another small job. I think a lot of people think all I do

is wear dresses outside and eat fruit, and partly

that’s true, but also: I’m tired. Spring’s about to burst

and I’ve yet to finish Middlemarch. I remain widely

unpublished and my nails are like daggers torn sharp

with my teeth. I can’t yet picture where our life

will be planted and I can’t paint my landscape

before the canvas is stretched. My brain’s composed

of colors, painted partly by him and embellished

by me. My grammar’s intuitive, just like the rest of me–

going on gut, gunning on gut, slamming the breaks,

quick-catching a view of what whizzes by while I drive.

I like talking walks and I always walk quickly,

though I’m trying to enjoy walking slower, looking up

and around instead of just down at the mullein

and mushrooms popping up everywhere. These days I’m holding

out hope that my sister moves east and on Thursday I head

to the city by bus to say hi to the Whitney, the subway,

the blossoms, my friends. It’s nice to go south yet painful

to leave my love in the house, sleeping alone in our bed

made for two, sitting alone at the small kitchen table where we rest

all our meals. When I said it’s complicated, being alive, being

outside at night surrounded by grass greening back

to its best summer self, what I meant was I’m tired

and I’m happy and I’m healing and I’m growing

like ginseng–I’m taking my time. In these days before

children, all my time is my own and I covet that time,

sinking deep in the couch with a thick hunk of literature,

putting on earrings just to go down for dinner.

IMG_2333

Little moving poem (mine).

(Written before we moved. & now that we’re settled, whew. I feel good.)

***

Today, Thank Heavens, I Have Hands

 

I think less of people who think

little creatures are stupider than big ones.

 

I try not to think about how heavy

and tedious moving is,

 

though there’s some fleck of comfort

in the known physical difficulty of it

 

and the general commonness

of packing stuff in boxes. Watch

 

as I move to a new home: what I can lift

I am touching with my hands.

 

And on the days when  I have no hands,

I lift all the invisible things.

 

 

West Coast Poetry Project: Portland poem.

Stumptown Poem

 

You can see a bit

of every woman’s

back here in hot

summer Portland.

Mine, too. This dress

not stolen, stitched

on Saturdays, blue

buttons down front,

I sewed them on.

I could never buy

a cup of coffee

every morning,

can’t start my day

with paying for it.

I brew my own bad

habits, good stove

coffee, plans for beds

of flowers. Foxgloves

finished with their bells

drip the streets, black

-eyed Susans stare

and stare at sky. Too

hot to hate, names

of authors occur to me

too slowly, Larkin or

Levine, the faces

hidden from me

stay in hiding,

the thieves who took

our precious gems

are out there holding

books I chose

in San Francisco,

spending time

with photographs

of trees so tall

they split in two,

their faces painted

gaudy in my blush,

toes  white with toothpaste

intended for my teeth.

 

 

*Our car was robbed in Portland, all our good stuff stolen.

 

The map is on the wall (photograph).

 

The map is on the wall. Now the packing happens.

 

 

If I’m gone from this blog for a couple of days, it’s because we’re packing and we’re leaving this home and we’re headed on the road. Roadtrip “updates” (poems, impressions, photographs, souvenir descriptions) will appear here whenever possible.

 

Apologies to Farmer #1 for the less-than-gorgeous portrait.

 

 

Goodbye Green Piece, the car that brought us across America.

 

The car is totaled. All bodies are okay (or almost—Ellie has a sprained ankle) but minds less so. We need a new car fast, a truck in fact. When I’m in our house I feel normal, but otherwise, not so much. I feel new again to San Diego; there’s so much hideous paperwork to deal with, so much money. I haven’t left Misha’s side since the accident. We’re in hibernation mode. We’re waiting out the days.

 

 

“Summer Interior” by Edward Hopper

 

Ack! Hurt back (mine).

 

I’m mostly okay today, but yesterday I was lifting and twisting in the truck at the farmer’s market and my back went ping!  on the lower left side. Being hurt makes me very slow and aware of every motion, which I try to appreciate. I feel like Marguerite Duras in this photo–booted and fabulous, but with a scrunched up neck and rickety on the stairs. Also, I believe she has a little beard in this photo, which is most elegant.

 

 

photo by the amazing portraitist, richard avedon, taken in 1993. photo via FANTOMATIK, where you can find artistic photography of famous artists. (swoon.)