Thursday, March 31, 2011

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. --Audre Lorde

I am having such a frustrating week- the chilly, dark weather only dampens my spirit, the family issues of several people close to me, my impossible-to-maintain schedule, my fretting over money and loans and funding...all of these complexities culminating in my Wednesday night class where harsh language and obtuse instruction only serve to put me under some kind of thumb. Good news is- all this depression is shaping itself into a new poem. It's easier to write when you're unhappy. I've also been thinking alot about where poetry "belongs." Write it for yourself or others? Publish it on your blog, online journals, print journals, post-it notes on the public bathroom's mirror?

"What fresh hell is this?" is a quote from Dorothy Parker, which kind of sums up my week so far.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Right of Center

I have this tendency to take a photograph with the following characteristic: the object placed in the lower right hand of the picture. Lately, I've tried to force myself to place the object on the lower left hand side but it feels completely unnatural. Last night, James and I shot around 150 pictures of an engaged couple. The day was cold and miserable- I'd spent most of the afternoon asleep. The thing about forcing yourself to participate in the creative process, though, is that the flow of energy catches you and sweeps you along- no matter how you felt beforehand. So maybe part of changing the spacing and focal points of my photos is like forcing myself to be creative? Hoping to work more on this. I spent my scholarship money on a down payment to go to New York this summer and now can't buy the Nikon I wanted...but I'll keep borrowing James' camera and playing with my iPhone - which suprisingly takes not bad pictures. There's also a question of how serious I get about all this- I want to continue to take photography classes and get better, along with reading a million books on my list, working on my Ph.D., teaching, applying for funding, visiting my family.... {photograph by Ami, taken January 2011 in Vieques, Puerto Rico}

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Son's Chapel Cemetery, Fayetteville

I unfurled your country's flag for you, brought it in when the Arkansas thunderstorms shook my teeth. I saved it under the quilts while my sister's and my nightgowns sparked with static electricity. My nose bled until the blood turned black and each drop of morphine I put down your throat choked us both. My words now, useless, though you'd told me that day in 1981-- pulling the unwanted hibiscus with a chain and a borrowed truck--you told me I had a way with words. You had work gloves on, I sat in the back of the truck, pale, blue-veined hands tucked in my lap. My love of metaphor before I knew it was metaphor.

Flags and hands and words and hibiscus and morphine knock together in my head that September while your fingernails slowly turn blue. I am bleeding all over my words- hating their inadequacy, hating how you will never smell an uprooted Arkansas hibiscus again. I lack the vocabulary to inhabit this space in this house on this week, so sometimes I run down the sidewalk to Dickson Street, my feet making the noise for me. I smell burning leaves. The fossils in the drawers cracking in pieces. The jams down in the cellar turning bloody colors. The words you've written on whiteboards in the sickroom forming shapes out of silence. They call out, mute.

I am caught somewhere between two cold countries, misprouncing the easiest of words. I smell everything more distinctly now, as if my way with words is now a way with smelling. It's a burden to have such a well-developed talent for smelling turned earth, the metal of blood, the sweet decay of blooming Bradford pear trees from one hundred and ninety miles away. But you cared only for words, even when the tangle of disease dipped its thin and pale fingers into the smallest, softest parts of your mind. I look now for a flag to mark my country, to find out what new language I must learn. Your blond grandbabies sing over your gravestone while the March wind blows through leafless oaks. I was always the one. It was always me. Sing when you can't speak, let me warm your hands.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Knitting Chronicles in Peruvian Blue

Over the years, I've taken up and discarded various hobbies. Be amazed as you browse through my lack of profiency in the following crafts: pressing/preserving flowers, oil painting, watercolor, needlework/embroidery, sewing, scrapbooking, and composting.

It's been one year since I took a knitting class and I am still totally enamored with it. I'm starting a scarf with this beautiful blue and have torn it out twice now to get it the way I want it. I don't mind tearing projects out because that means I won't finish them too quickly. This is Peruvian cotton, hand-dyed in large kettles. The company, "Manos del Uruguay," employs rural women to do the dye-work. Mine was signed by "Maritmela" ?? in careful, loopy, right-slanted pen.

Some nights, when I can't sleep, I come downstairs and sit and knit in the quiet night, thinking of Miss Marple and Madame Defarge...thinking of my hatred for plastic needles and all things plastic...wondering which of my nieces' dolls needs a new blanket...

I ride the bus to the university campus and often knit while I'm riding. Because I come from the far side of town, I'm often the only student on the bus and not one of the "regulars" who seem to ride the bus all day, every day for all their errands. I notice, on the days when I knit, some of the regulars will talk to me. They will ask what I'm making. And who is it for? And they will offer a story about what they know how to do-- be it crocheting or knitting or sewing. And we will share a little knit-together moment there.

So I'm home this afternoon, the sun is still high in the sky thanks to daylight savings, and the house is quiet. I have things to do: reading books for school, writing papers, transcribing notes, researching a new project, putting away laundry. But, just for a few minutes, I pick up Maritmela's yarn, run it through my fingers, cast fifteen stitches on to smooth bamboo needles...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings
Daylight Savings by danishmermaid on

I am so excited by the time change! I love long, sunny afternoons. This weekend, I've wanted to do nothing but shop, so I've dipped into my grocery budget a little (actually, a lot) in order to go and have some fun. I found some great t-shirts and a beautiful pot that I'd like to find an arrowhead houseplant to put in. On days like these, I really want to wander around greenhouses, but I don't know where any are in this area- besides the sad-looking specimens at Home Depot and etc. I spent many a bleak, cloudy day inside humid greenhouses. Are they all gone?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

memory out loud

I've been reading and thinking lately about emergent properties- collective joy, revivals, mob mentality - and the way a memory can escape you. I've noticed over the past few years a very odd phenomenon. I can think about an event from my past, but once I tell someone- speaking the words out loud- the memory takes on a life of its own when it leaves my tongue. It takes a certain shape that I no longer recognize; it flies away. This is so strange and a big part of what made me want to start writing things down again. I'm trying to capture a part of myself. Does the memory join some sort of collective memory?

Carrie, remember the fireflies? The way the jar fogged with delicate breath! The mown-lawn Arkansas night smell!