#21 winter solstice 2013

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Today marks the shortest day of the year. We can focus again on the gentle increase of daylight. Remember, when the light seems short and the chilly air gets you down: pour some hot water on your tea, let it steep for 5 minutes, and like the directions said on the box... dance with your loved one. It could be your dog, your cat, your partner, child, grandmother, or your toothbrush.
 _MG_9514.jpg"I light a few candles, so/the moon is no longer alone."
Mary Ruefle

#20 winter solstice

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I think of my brothers and I like a school of fish. As kids we swam in the same water and played in the waves. Having older brothers I was always working with an intuition just out of reach. Having a younger brother there was someone to follow in my wake. We sparkled around the globe. I don't know when we transformed from shimmering minnows into hardened snapping turtles. We carry our particular memories of water and air. We look through a lens of honey and see varied versions of our saga. Each one of us carries a particular riff.


Saga By Mary Ruefle

Everything that ever happened to me
is just hanging  --  crushed
and sparkling  --  in the air,
waiting to happen to you.
Everything that ever happened to me
happened to somebody else first.
I would give you an example
but they are all invisible.
Or off gallivanting around the globe.
Not here when I need them
now that i need them
if I ever did which I doubt.
Being particular has its problems.
In particular there is a rift through everything.
There is a rift running the length of Iceland
and so a rift runs through every family
and between families a feud.
It's called a saga. Rifts and sagas
fill the air, and beautiful old women
sing of them, so the air is filled with
music and the smell of berries and apples
and shouting when a gun goes off
and crying in closed rooms.
Faces, who needs them?
Eating the blood of oranges
I in my alcove could use one.
Abbas and ammas!
come out of your huts, travel
halfway around the world,
inspect my secret bank account of joy!
My face is a jar of honey
you can look through,
you can see everything
is muted, so terribly muted,
who could ever speak of it,
sealed and held up for all?

#19 winter solstice 2013

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"I used to do terrible things in my sorrow, but now I just sit down and talk to it. When we're very young and we are in despair, we think we will always be in despair. And it takes many years to recognize that there are cycles and to be patient. When I was eighteen years old, I wasn't patient with myself, with my sorrow, with other people. But with the years we learn, in very sad and terrible ways, to be more patient with everything, including our sorrow."

Mary Ruefle, from an interview in Bomblog, "something alight, something obscured"

#18 winter solstice 2013

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After dinner I called in my barking dog and was struck by the reflected moonlight on the pond. I am part of the pond I was born in. I have art making as part of my DNA. I am part of the pond of love my Mom and Dad created. They spawned four tree children and they left a trail of stuff behind them that threatens to break the roots of love between these children. Sometimes I think the ancient Chinese had it right by taking all their things into the next life. Good to be buried with everything because, who knows, in the after life you might need that old frying pan or the rusty tools, or the book you had not finished reading.

_MG_9495.jpgThere is a greater contrast between the moon and the night sky than there is between the sun and the daytime sky. And this contrast is more conducive to sorrow, which always separates or isolates itself, than it is to happiness, which always joins or blends.
--Mary Ruefle  from Madness, Rack and Honey

#17 winter solstice 2013

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_MG_9478.jpg"I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There's something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death."

-- Elinor Wylie, section IV of "Wild Peaches," from Selected Works of Elinor Wylie (Kent State University Press, 2005)

#16 winter solstice 2013

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I met with my writing friends today. We talked and shared our words in patterns, the circles of our conversations grew concentrically. We wrote of truth, lying, risk taking and aging. Our pens could not hide the dark feelings, or ugly thoughts as the stories scrolled from our fingers like solid ground under our feet.

_MG_9499.jpg"The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it."
-- Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin (McCelland & Stewart, 2000)

#15 winter solstice 2013

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"The rest-note,


hinged between worlds,

that precedes change and allows it."
Jane Hirshfield, from "The Door," in The October Palace (HarperPerennial, 1994)

#15 winter solstice 2013

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Today was a gray dream that moved from snow and black twigs outlined with immaculate preciseness, to something else that wasn't quite rain. A damp dusk walk revealed silence crunching.

_MG_9481.jpg"It's rather like snow: in the beginning,

immaculate, brilliant, the trees shocked

into a crystalline awareness of something

remarkable, like them, but not of them,

perfectly formed and yet formless.

You want to walk up and down in it,

this bleak, maizeless field of innocence

with its black twigs and blue leaves.

You want to feel the silence crunching

beneath your ... shoes, but soon ...

the trees no longer 
bear sunlight,
the sky has dragged down

its gray dream, and now it's no longer snow

but something else, not water or even

its dumb cousin, mud, but something used,

ordinary, dull. Then one morning at 4 a.m.

you go out seeking that one feeble remnant,

you are so lonely, and of course you find

its absence. An odd thing, to come upon

an absence, to come upon a death, to come upon

what is left when everything is gone."
B. H. Fairchild, from "The Death of a Small Town," in The Art of the Lathe (Alice James Books, 1998)

#13 winter solstice 2013

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As we finished dinner tonight we heard a fox calling in the moonlit night air. The dog whined at the door and we let her out. To our ear she ran the opposite direction of the sound, perhaps she could smell something we could not see.

_MG_9465.jpg"I don't think there is anything balanced about artistic creation at all, I think it's a lopsided way of being, an obsessive and off-balance way of perceiving and being in the world; I mean most people when they see a baby fox playing with butterflies don't have to write a poem about it, especially a poem where the baby fox winds up dead on the side of the road with butterflies gamboling around its splayed intestines."
-- Mary Ruefle

#12 winter solstice 2013

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My collection of bird nests knocked down by the ice and wind is formidable. My shoe laces are often untied. After my father died I sat out on a city stoop in the rain and lit cigarettes with a friend in honor of my Dad who smoked too much. It was hard for a vehement non-smoker to pretend, but it was a mysterious honor. I accept the topographical error in my childhood atlas and photograph sunsets not for enlargements, but to focus on an intimate imitation of my mother's habits.

Peccadillo by Mary Ruefle
I love you like pink tiles and white cigarettes

and the brown underfeathers of a fat hen

and I do not even know you, you are like my toes

which I have never seen because I was born in shoes

whose laces continually come undone

so I am forever stooped and while I am down

I gather for you all the porcupine quills

left by the rain, my collection is formidable

but not for sale, and when I am up

I make for you color enlargements of the day:

look at this cloud will you, until you arrive

I will not know if the rain fell beautifully

or dripped continually, I assume by now

my commitment to you is transparent

and that you accept the topographical error

in the depths of my atlas,

still there will be many mysteries between us,

you were not exactly here when my alarm clock was stolen

or my cat sold without my permission,

but those days are behind me,

after a life of expensive moments devoured by fogs

they mowed the fields into haystacks,

they covered the haystacks with white shrouds

and rolled them off to the side like stones

and brought in the trembling lights of a carnival

where it is my one desire

we will hang together upside down on the wheel

while the crowd gasps as you kiss me.

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Recent Comments

  • Emily Hancock: Exceptional. Moving. Beautiful. read more
  • Ken Davis: Hi Catherine, In 1985 I wrote a poem in memory read more
  • Emily Hancock: Wonderful. read more
  • Teresa: Catherine, your post was so lovely and moving. I cried read more
  • Emily Hancock: I love your posts and pics and quotes. Thank you read more
  • Jessie Duff-McLaurin: Could you include me in your solstice entries? Thanks so read more
  • Lucy Fagella: oh those images in the sketchbooks... it's always such a read more
  • Matt: It is always nice to look back to the year read more
  • Robyn: Beautiful image! read more
  • margaret: lovely...have a great visit in NY, and thanks for the read more


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