Writer, student, Docs-&-dresses wearer, bad but enthusiastic ukulele player.
“Do you mind if I ask what you’re writing?”
“It’s a poem about all kinds of love.”
“Are you in love now?”
“I am. It’s only been a few weeks. It’s a very happy sort of love.”
“Is this the first time you’ve been in love?”
“It’s the second, actually. My first love died unexpectedly of complications from routine surgery. That was a very tragic sort of love.”
Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?
What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.
Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning
Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning
Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning
Are become insubstantial, reduced by a wind,
A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog
By this grace dissolved in place
What is this face, less clear and clearer
The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger—
Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the eye
Whispers and small laughter between leaves and hurrying feet
Under sleep, where all the waters meet.
Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat.
I made this, I have forgotten
The rigging weak and the canvas rotten
Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.
The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking.
This form, this face, this life
Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me
Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken,
The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships.
What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers
And woodthrush calling through the fog
Jumper dresses & leggings & fluffy socks & fleecy slippers: it’s supposed to be spring but I’m still dressed for winter.
At night Alan reads children’s books to my tummy: Grimm’s fairy tales, Aesop’s fables, Where the Wild Things Are. In the daytime I play the ukulele & read EE Cummings & TS Eliot aloud. Stories about spring & daughters, the perils of inbetweenery. Another Franco-Irish pixie child brought up on stringed instruments & poetry.
I like the word nesting because it reminds me of spring, of the woodthrush in the fog. There’s certainly more fog than spring weather at the moment; the sky snows like it hasn’t realised it isn’t winter any more & everyone wears fluffy socks. I’m working hard & wishing lots & hoping on some good news that is unrelated to the imminent arrival of my daughter which is the most wonderful news I’ve ever heard. Three weeks. All the best things are born in the spring.
If I should have a daughter…instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”
And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.”
But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.
I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “there’ll be days like this” my momma said, when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.
You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.”
I kind of love how my most responsible looking outfits at the moment make me look like a cross between a pregnant teenager & a hipster librarian.
This is a letter to the worm-threaded earth.
This is a letter to November, its gray bowl of sky riven by black-branched trees.
A letter to split-tomato skins, overripe apples, & a flock of fruit flies lifting
from the blueing clementines’ wood crate.
To the broken confetti of late fall leaves.
This is a letter to rosemary.
This is a letter to the floor’s sink & creak, the bedroom door’s torn hinge
moaning its good-night.
This is to the unshaven cheek.
To cedar, mothballs, camphor, & last winter’s unwashed wool.
This is a letter to the rediscovered,
to mulch, pine needles, the moon, frost, flats of pansies, the backyard,
hunger, night, the unseen.
This is a letter to soil, thrumming as it waits to be turned.
This is a letter to compost, eggshell’s bone-ash chips, fruit rinds curved like
fingernails, & stale chunks of bread.
A letter to the intimate dark—mouth-warm & damp as a bed.
This is a letter to the planet’s scavenging lips.
red squirrel! cool. we don’t have those in the states, so i always get goggle-eyed over them the way people from cities get about, like, deer and bears when they visit my town. they have the best ears, those squirrels.
Bears! I’ve never seen a bear! I’d get seriously goggle-eyed over bears! (Less so deer because there are so many here too.) Like, would you see one on your way home from the shops like you would a deer?
Irish red squirrels don’t have the tufty ears like French ones do, though. The ones in the forest where my grandparents live (in the south-west of France) are the tufty-eared kind. The Irish kind just have regular squirrel ears. Which are still pretty cool, no disrespect to Irish squirrels.
(Today’s Lesson in Wildlife is brought to you by Moïra & Lia!)