Dateline November 2005—
A day here at the Oxbow compound. Going nowhere. Wrote a brief bio and statement of my poetry aesthetics for the next class I’m taking through Writers on the Net. To the tune of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #5 performed by Treviso’s I Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca at the Royal Castle, Warsaw. Ate leftover Sloppy Joe for lunch: can’t remember the last time I had such food. Hauled wood inside. Brought the wood stove back to life. Emptied a few waterlogged New Guinea impatiens into the compost pile. Raked wet oak leaves into six piles, maybe another seven to go. Took mail to the mailbox. Wrote a sympathy card. Edited articles for the ATC Quarterly. Re-read several chapters in Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town. Wondering if I will “get” his point more this time around. Read Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems—somewhat dated material and too much name-dropping of long gone gliterrati from the 1950s? I don’t get what they were supposed to be about? Still used one about the death of Billie Holliday as template inspiration for a rough draft of my own New York poem about the death of Rosa Parks and the way I feel out lives are, historically, entwined. Took two naps. Talked to a friend from Ontario on the phone. In general, felt low-energy, borderline exhausted. All in all, a not-much-doing day. But oddly satisfying and peaceful and sweet.
Maybe it’s this radiance at nearly sunset, 4:45 pm. Clouds lit up yellow from behind, the giant, puffy ones, that make me think of childhood painting of God and heaven. Three-dimensional, like a sky place you’d really want to go to. And now as the light fades, rosy white, yellowish pink.
Many moments today, I felt like a faker not a writer. A charlatan not a functioning human being. I wanted to turn myself into a person who could drive to the Woodburn factory outlets and simply buy myself—no excuses needed—a giant Le Creuset Dutch Oven, early 50th birthday gift. To be able to do that, the tug of war that is my conscience all the time, telling me to live simply, that of course we already have plenty, more than enough, would have to take a hike or an amnesiac vacation. Need versus want, and need trumps every time.
Lilac now, and salmon edging to rose. People think it rains all the time in November, December, January here in this part of the Pacific Northwest. But really, I’d have to say, seven years into this life here, that the days are more often like this if you stop long enough and stand at attention. There’s usually glimpse of sun, light that is dramatic and changing, stage-set quality, and it’s more soothing to pay attention to this than politics at this hour.
The painting above is “Sunset” by Eugene Delacroix, 1850.