Sunday, October 26, 2014

possession

We are at the cider mill, which has become a massive festival of blow-up toys and pay-as-you-go corrals, the sale of cider, doughnuts and apples apparently insufficient.

The two babies are happy to be outside on their mommies' bosoms in identical, identifiable Ergo carriers, blissfully unaware of economics. 

Distancing ourselves from the festival of apples and pumpkins, we go for a walk on a path along the woods. James, two and a half, straddles Grandpa's shoulders. Grandpa plucks a hickory nut from a tree. "Look, this is a hickory nut, James." 

James takes and throws it indignantly back into the woods. "That is not our own!"

Then Grandpa breaks a small dead branch off a tree and hands it to James, now on the ground, to walk with. Instantly James throws it back. "That is not our own!"

The grassy road undulates ahead, woods on the left, a field of corn on the right. Grandpa picks an ear of dry corn and hands it to James. "That is not our own!" and he throws it back. Grandpa goes and picks up the corn where it landed. "Maybe you can just carry it a while and throw it back later."

And so he begins to eat the dried, borrowed corn. 










Monday, October 6, 2014

Arranging stones: poems and quilts


A tiny airliner
crosses the sky,
slicing 
without sound.

I type one
more word
on the page
and the seam closes.

Indian muslin
sewn to
French toile
means that pale young boys
play with a dog
in a beautiful garden
of dark-leafed paisley.

We pry
stones apart
just wide enough
to let another thing
live

and with all
that is in our power
sew them
together:

this scar
that is
ourselves.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer clouds


With no apparent ferocity in their wildness,
shapes of white ash and beam

roll above and past the old house and barn,
which sag under them in rumpled pleats.

Bent peaks and gables finger the buoyant clouds
but seem too weak to hook, release

and catch them: armloads of damp laundry,
which through summer centuries stay daily fresh.

When I was a girl in a small town, one
summer night I dreamt that the moon came

close enough to touch. Clouds hover today,
almost brushing my head,

until something shakes them out.
Heavily they fall. For a while I stand.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

anthills

I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon — the unimaginable universe.
Jorge Luis Borges 

My grandson and I are out for a walk around his apartment complex of buildings. Along the edge of the asphalt, in the many cracks left by the creaks and heaves of winter, are anthills. Spring is turning to summer, truly, if the ants are rebuilding.

He is two and a half and the world belongs to him to do with as he pleases. When we play hide-and-seek around the big maples on the hill, he strips a sapling branch of its leaves before I can stop him. Now, as we walk the road, he swipes an anthill low, and in one small moment of horror I cry “no!” wanting him to obey and not run ahead and swipe as he does. “They took a long time to build the entrance to their home,” I say, but he is bent on swipe-swipe-swiping, though I grab his hand firmly against it.

I have just read about two-year-olds and the determination to do what it is they want to do until distracted. It does no good simply to fight, and there will be no spanking as there was of me, to break my will, to shape it into something not my own.

It will take time to build this boy, with the deliberateness of ants. In spite of my momentary horror, I whisk him up in feigned joy to play a new game. It works, and he is distracted from destruction.

But it was he who carried worms last summer off the asphalt into the grass to save them from cars, he who kissed ladybugs on the tree trunk and let them play along his small palms and shoulders. He who stared at the lake fly on the blue beach chair five minutes before it flew away. Were anthills an abstraction because he saw no ants, even from his small stature?

Someone taught me not to step on anthills by bending low to watch a worker cross the sidewalk carrying a single bit of earth in his mandibles. Close enough to see his mandibles! I transcended his ugliness (monster-like if movies are to be believed). I thought, how beautiful to have such mechanisms for industrious use.

In this memory I am relieved, seeing that I am not the teacher.