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#21 summer solstice 2017

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I walked to the top of the driveway after sunset to see the bright color behind the silhouetted trees. The fireflies were bright spots in the wet, dark green of deep shade. The only problem with doing this project is that it makes me acutely aware of the longest day and so now the shortening days.

21 summer 2017.jpgBounding wet dark

and the fields are wet too,

the grass, the questions

we press together to answer.

You are the last candle from the barn

I blow out. Sunday wish,

we are alive

only a short time. What is the purpose

of a field if not to lie in it

--Jacques J. Rancourt, from "Bounding Wet Dark," Novena (Pleiadas Press, 2017)

21a summer 2017.jpg


#20 summer solstice 2017

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When I make my poem plates I root through the boxes of my mother's archives. She had a poetry group that met periodically and I find xeroxed versions of poems paper-clipped together. There are also hand scribbled versions and revisions. I transcribe her words through sifted ash or clay and print them so they end up reversed in the clay. I take the insubstantial words that came from my mother's mind and press them into the shape of a plate. Her life feeds mine. Her words create shadows of lines, direction, and song in clay.

20 summer 2017.jpgA writer's work
is with the insubstantial word,
the image that can only find
its being in another's mind.
We work with water, with the wind,
we make and hold no thing at all.
All we can ever shape or sing
the tremor of an untouched string,
a shift of shadows on the wall.
 
--  Ursula K. Le Guin, from "Writers," Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 20012)

#19 summer solstice 2017

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It's my birthday today and instead of doing anything special I have been doing mundane things like going to the dump. I also found a poem about apples that made me think of my mom. Images of her pregnant with my younger brother have been popping into my mind as I clean and organize. I have been thinking about how she makes my birthday possible; how when I was pregnant with Zoë my perspective on birthdays dramatically shifted.

So I moved a yellow daylily in my mom's honor. She had bought me various daylily varieties when we first bought our land and I am now slowly shifting a flowerbed. The lily in my mom's memory reminded me of spreading lilies when we spread her ashes. At that time she been losing her memory. She would lose the salad, new potatoes from the farmers' market, names and keys. Making drawings of apples and geraniums was her best connection to the moment. So much better than cleaning for the onset of family visitors. When we were in Maine the place and way we lived reminded her of her childhood memories of camp. She would tell us over and over about going to summer camp. I remember wanting to walk and write about all the stories she told me but that was the year that I realized her memory of recent activity was gone. Her memories of camp were more vibrant than the name of a friend. When we walked I had to let go of who she had been before. My way of relating to her was outdated. She taught me to be in the present moment. She taught me to look at the lilies, the sunset and the lit candles at dinner. She taught me to love children's books and to take time to put flowers in a cup on a table. Reading her poems now almost thirteen years after her death reminds me how outdated my thinking was when she was alive. I didn't understand how much she understood and how much she captured in her poems.


19 summer 2017.jpgSummer Apples

I planted an apple tree in memory
of my mother, who is not gone,
 
but whose memory has become
so transparent that she remembers
 
slicing apples with her grandmother
(yellow apples; blue bowl) better than
 
the fruit that I hand her today. Still,
she polishes the surface with her thumb,
 
holds it to the light and says with no
hesitation, Oh, Yellow Transparent . . .
 
they're so fragile, you can almost see
to the core. She no longer remembers how
 
to roll the crust, sweeten the sauce, but
her desire is clear--it is pie that she wants.
 
And so, I slice as close as I dare to the core--
to that little cathedral to memory--where
 
the seeds remember everything they need
to know to become yellow and transparent.
 
--Cathryn Essinger. Her most recent book is What I Know About Innocence from Main Street Rag Press.  

#18 summer solstice 2017

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I ended the day by digging up my garlic. I remember four years ago standing on the edge of a trip while the kiln cooled. I was undecided, was it too soon to pull my garlic? In the end I decided it was better to be early rather than too late. The planned five day get-away turned into three weeks as I sat with my dad who had had a heart attack. He hung on for a bit and finally passed away. My dad always thought father's day was a corny Hallmark contrivance, but I am happy to honor all the Dads in our orbit. Twas lovely to have a surprise visit from our daughter and her fiance, to linger on the porch and to jump in the pond as if it is full-on summer.

18 summer 2017.jpgWhat matters is precisely this; the unspoken at the edge of the spoken.
--  Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry, 21 July 1912

#17 summer solstice 2017

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Today was the kind of humid Virginia day that makes you feel that you are parting the air when you walk. The day began with rain and wet grass then moved through puffy clouds into great breezes. But when you went to lift something or dig or walk the air moved in to fill the space behind you, a reminder that summer heat was at your back. Late in the day we moseyed to the pond with the intention of a dog walk. Yet the light was so perfect in its reflection and the breezes cooling with our feet in the water there was no reason to go anywhere else. Dinner on the porch with freshly dug new potatoes and a few other tasty bits was perfect punctuation for keeping our lives whole.


17 summer 2017.jpgIn a field

I am the absence

of field.
This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.



When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in
to fill the spaces

where my body's been.



We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

-Mark Strand, "Keeping Things Whole"

#14 summer solstice 2017

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I am catching up in the garden, pulling out the bolted lettuce. It is as if the June heat gave every plant, weed and seed a boost of energy. The scattering of shade created poems of light and shadow in the long June day.

14 summer 2017.jpgWith shadows I draw worlds,
I scatter worlds with shadows.
I hear the light beat on the other side.
 
--  Octavio Paz, from "This Side," The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz: 1957-1987, trans. Eliot Weinberger (New Directions, 1987)

#13 summer solstice 2017

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After driving beside the Blue Ridge Mountains--through rain, sun and humidity--rehashing the North Carolina woodfire conference, we returned to thirsty plants and piles of peas. I watered the garden in the last light with the company of fireflies.

13 summer 2017.jpg"The cloud is free only to go with the wind. The rain is free only in falling."
― Wendell Berry

#12 summer solstice 2017

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After being consumed by a conference in North Carolina we've been driving through the green hills of landscape and silence.

12 summer 2017.jpgGreen was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

--  Pablo Neruda, from "XL," 100 Love Sonnets (University of Texas Press, 1986)


#10 summer solstice 2017

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"Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences."
--Brian Eno


10 summer 2017.jpg

#9 summer solstice 2017

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09 summer 2017.jpg" In the word  and in the void between words.
You are the pause, the synaptic skip.

You are the meaning between the syllables. "

-- Louise Erdrich, from "The Seven Sleepers," Original Fire: Selected and New Poems (Harper Perennial, 2004)

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