- 16 December 1986
Rowen working in his closet. Gohtha gaigo gaigo ai na na mum m muh,
running after the bottle to his bed. Schuff schuff the leather slippers.
The corridor, which is also the end of the road because out the window
I see the high bare peaks, is a bedroom with a man in bed naked, sleek chest
and fine erection, on his elbow looking at me. Rough and ready, large, not
my type, brawny, padded, a moustache. I say are they mountain climbers?
Yes. I sit down naturally and simply, get in with his skin, I'll take him
up on it. He touches into me a bit. I sigh. He's pleased. I want the big
penis too. But he gets up, gets dressed, shakes his black hair, he has to
Before sleeping making a story in Orpheus's house, a couch upstairs in
the firelight. He understands me too well, a fear thrill. Roll your sweater
up over your breasts and sit there in the firelight reading, and I'll look
at you sometimes. He's over there with his legs on the couch. As he's reading
without seeming to notice he lets his penis stand up outside his pants so
the fire can light it. He comes over to me, lifts my skirt, tucks it into
the waistband, lays one of my knees over in the armchair so there's black
hair and a pink frill. Goes back to writing in his notebook. What's he writing.
He looks up steadily at times. The breasts get hard. I'm stewing. Get up
and walk around he says. I walk around the couch. He's behind it sitting
on the back. I walk past, lean over, brush him with a breast tip. He seizes
me at the waist, spirals and presses. Only a little but I'm in the other
land, do whatever you like. Bends me over the couch back, opens up the little
doors, puts it in a little. Uh - uh - uh and then deep up into the belly
UH and picks me up against his chest, spreads his hands on my stomach. My
head's leaning back beside his. He rubs my belly, himself in it. Then what
- breasts, the whole torso, the wet part. He's not so much moving it inside
as swelling larger and solider, and the cunt swelling too, not accepting
but repelling, an interior swollen to push him out and in that mutual push
making fires of contact, streams of fire. Then we slow it down and look
around. It won't leave us, we'll see together.
The dense bushy place beyond the road, the wet, flooding place, the place
with trails, the dark, muddy, impassible place, the animal place, the place
raided by hunters, the place with a warm curve in the creek, the place he
knows his way into, the place to find cows, the place where a bull roars
hidden beyond the thickets, the place infiltrated by the dump, the place
children make houses in willow brush, the place with salt at the gate, the
place with hind legs of steers and heifers marching under a caked tail,
the place with yellow moons thick on the ground, the place with mosquitoes
and flies, the chill place, the tunneling place, the place rarely entered,
the place netted with paths that all lead to water, the place whose paths
before they come to the water fall apart into hoof holes in deep mud, the
place whose paths lead to a periphery of impassible muck where we stand
seeing the water unable to reach it, the place where I confessed to my mother
that I loved Ken and she said I had good taste, the place with an entry
precinct of tall poplar columns with grass and light between them, the place
we got into by rolling under a fence, the place (I'm told) I toddled away
into when I was two, the place with a mud floor, ground dry enough for grass
only on the humps around willow trunks, the place I ventured into with a
small boy and girl whose leader I was, the place seen from the house on
its hill but unable to see it back, the place of feeling direction, the
closed-in place, the place with unseen inferred horizons, the shadowed place,
the place under a living roof, the place with a completely unknown further
extent, the place with other sides not belonging to us but to Kinderwater,
Friesen, Hiken, the place that could be seen from the other side but was
never entered there, the south place with more south beyond it, the flooding
and drying place, the place with invisible animals, the place inside a willow
Earth's fur, earth's vulva, earth's mysterious map, earth's high-hearted
entrance, earth's venture and curiosity, earth's intense curiosity, earth's
labyrinths of curiosity, earth's obscure extent, earth nearly blind.
Then, at the solstice party at Carnegie what do I see to make me dance
and roar. A girl three and a half with bangs and ponytail, purple teeshirt,
who calmly dances the round dance. Her adult men partners lift her to their
height. Her father is the man with squared head thin hair a lump of turquoise
hanging from his ear, pale eyes. The band is jamming on a blues pattern.
She sitting on the stool bringing the balloon mic closer is improvising
without a hitch. He's playing guitar near her, blushing at her command of
the mic but supporting her, keeping an eye on her to see she doesn't get
past her capability. "Your daughter's really good!" "I think
so." Bringing out the stuffed raccoon for her when the set's over.
I went to sit with her jamming on the edge of the stage when they did the
cleanup, he came and sat on the other side.
With M in the café talking about antlers, the little girl singer,
beauty. "I've felt it more than seen it, once when we were lying down,
a dark space" he says. "It's something I can do, I'm afraid of
it" I say.
Talking grandly would be: the goddess came, for some reason or none.
What is it like to be living a life that has seen the goddess in the mirror.
The slides are my photographs of her. Many other times I've seen in the
mirror someone else, she is away. There's little written.
Is it when she is there or when she's away I see her in the other? I
need to know. Robert's tall god of air, Jam's fairy empress.
Black evening. A paraffin candle fast sharp and white, a beeswax welling
down slowly yellow fire yellow pool. Lit air sways. Around the fire the
blue and then violet envelope and outside that a thin black line? Flame's
tip the loftest lightest softest dissolving tongue. Cyclamen.
It's thin like what's between skin touching skin.
Goddess fairy paradise, alright, they all mean love eyes, and it's called
these things, why - . The eyes said: white foam on wave edge, white cloud
in air trough. A difference of medium and level.
There is work. There is and will be longing. I accept. I'll live the
longing as complete and true as I can. - All the wicks at the bottom of
the thimble, when the candle had melted down to them, seven branches piled,
all in one flame conducting wax into fire, as I feel in bed when my womb
blazes. I'm given Michael to be body's help. The other waiting will be itself,
Robert as much as it is, true or mistaken as much as it is. Without my having
to know, somewhere it is known, and I'm with the knowing even when I don't
know. In these ways it is as if someone is already there in the companion's
place on my further right. I speak, it can say ye-e-s-s in a sigh. I ask.
It chooses from the surroundings I haven't seen, an answer in sight. She
says: don't make it separate. But I want it to be separate so there will
be someone for me. The rest is to understand gradually.
She there - looks like a queen, admirable. In the Pan Pacific women's
room mirror a bloodless malnourished neglected face, eyes in black hollows,
intimidated, drab, worn and ill.
In this season what's most to me is the color and scent of flowers, candle
and mirror light, my room, myself in the mirror, black dress and green vest.
The lamps and colors under them. In each room the lamp. No one's born in
this black crisis. We're reduced to our little light's survival.
Rowen crying, dark, rain. I've just torn up Mary's horrible letter. I
can answer it - yes - eloquently - and why isn't that enough - because I
hate her - thick white-fleshed cow - face dough hanging off her bones -
greedy wormy hands - safe, safe, insulated in the white dough of righteousness
and harmlessness letting the rest of us take the risks. Deaf. What do I
feel about Christmas she asks. I can tell her every year and still she'll
ask, she's treading her little cowpath having thoughts suitable to the season.
Getting senile by lack of existence. You who were born intelligent and passionate,
you've become a parasite. You want to hear me explain once more what's wrong
with your religion and your marriage, so the truth will be said but not
1st January 1987
With Laiwan at the Chinese movies. Beautiful men's bodies in the best
dress they could have, kung fu jackets and folded-over trousers, shining
bare chests. Long silk dresses. Whup. Whup. Whup. Glorious dancing. He leaps
very high and is rolling over when he sends the knife. Thirty to one, an
unexpected ally, and at the end they stand bloodied looking at one another
with the traitors fallen across each other in piles.
In the street in the dark R and I step off our sidewalks at nearly the
same time and have only an instant in the middle of the street to see each
other's face. Will I look away. No. Will I make her look away. No. She looks
folded down angry. I look imperious grim. What's she got to feel persecuted
about. But I'm satisfied to have made her look at me that way. Why. As long
as she's mad at me I have the upper air.
Joyce was disapproving the schoolgirlishness of the rivalries, do I want
that? Then I'm stopped and have to really fetch it up. After a long time:
"I have to say this," about telling T an experience and having
her hear it, "I've always had that difficulty, that there's no one
with a quality of attention. It makes a possibility of transformation."
And then Joyce is turned around right away agreeing.
Two days pink Nepal mountains again. Down in the squeezed streets E on
her bike in riding boots and herringbone and kung fu white and black and
red scarf is half starved on rations all this month, but carrying $5 worth
of roses in green paper. Meeting, on Granville, an English man with goggle
eyes, but English. And other eyes. In the bicycle basket Steady attention
reel 2 in a metal can, and other small cans in the army bag. The little
films each as they come on make me suddenly soften. I'd come into the good
place. Last of the light by itself. Swan in beautiful blue
white and yellow tranquilly turning her neck. Flies in the last sun on the
wall leave and rejoin their shadow. A moon that creeps in slow and clear
gets a push and then rides fast forward in red chorion. Cloud and nettle
flicker. They aren't what they were in the original but there's still a
soft transit when the light changes color. Green shadow in blue shadow.
The parts that are still, like the floorboards, are running with grain.
In the mirror I'm seeing skin droop under my beautiful chin. Jaw skin
slumped against the mouth crease and a rumpled pit around the eyes.
Neal Gunn a companion. His wonderful balance in wanting to be true and
useable. I stand here. Where. How is it. I will learn and say.
He is wanting the world and the visionary to be continuous in one space,
with a difference in texture maybe, you can tell them apart but you meet
both in a walk around. He's not more impressed with himself for that kind
of meeting. He's terrified but he recovers. DH Lawrence was more terrified
all the time. But Gunn has a few happenings he goes on weaving. He's loyal
to his shocks. It's a shock to be alive and going to die.
The sweetness of the warmth in the light, the lightness of the air, the
sound of birds in the mornings, have been the most certain spring I have
ever know. I stand and thank like a bush.
It's still (I tell Laiwan) needing utmost sophistication to keep simplicity
I don't understand why this long struggle in the foundation of work has
been so mute in me, where with Gunn in the grandparent generation it was
And while writing in this explicit way still feeling it's stooping into
another generation's business and the way to do it now is the way I have
before. But this one is a comfort of being able to do sturdily.
"The other world is this world seen."
I feel I haven't done my work but have gone years timidly taking notes
about how to begin.
Lying in bed last night in the time when I was beginning to see things
there came the feeling of a quality of a time. This one was Eton Street
when I was new in Vancouver. It's a feeling of the background of a time,
no the time itself, which is not the background but the medium. It's like
a tint of feeling tho' I don't think it's on a spectrum. Only the reverie
state can recover it. It's like taste smell and color but imperceptible
in any present. It seems to be unspecifiable. I was able to stay feeling
it a while but I can't get it now. I was wondering if it is the body chemistry
of the time and recovering it wd be recovering younger tissues.
That was after 2 hrs listening to TV weeding the white hairs out of my
forelock and seeing under it grey skin hanging in creases, so ugly I don't
look at it, I can't look at it without saying there must be a distortion
in the mirror. The face is not only old, it's sick and old and starved,
not old like a prosperous person, old like a derelict, grimy, ugly like
tissue barely alive. Dirty pores like my mother's. I see myself turning
into an old mother and don't want it.
Was reading The diary of the rose on the bus.
There was pain and fear of course but it does not come out pain in
the end. He has not forgotten or repressed it but it is all changed, by
his love for his parents and his sister and for music and for the shape
and weight and fit of things and his memory of the lights and weathers of
days long past and his mind always working quietly, reaching out, reaching
out to be whole.
Her sentence doing it, keeps putting her arm around more. A dart into
the true self quickly sealed but letting two small rushes of water out into
the eyes. With the ugly bus, the despair and self removal of the ugly bus,
the ugly students, in cold shadow under the university gate. A luster in
the sky, pewter blue with firm fine wisps
Afraid of charm, value, ethic, tactic. It seems a closer theory
than any - it isn't demagogic - it's the tactile - tentative - it tried
for the true web under - the recognizable unspoken - it's my own idiom and
there's the fright, it's closer to crazy: brave; if I put it out I have
to be ready to turn arrows. When I read it now it is like bending back around
to see myself, I haven't got the right sense of it yet. It's the close declaration
of the one I was in the middle of the field of Jam and T and R - it's the
person Joyce has been pushing me out of - she was terrorized, but was she
terrorized in writing or was she acute in dissolve and bringing back a live
vision. That's what I shd set myself to find out.
Free morning: the ground frozen. Later not knowing what to do and easily
doing the entrance rock, grass paths. Turfs are blocks. Turfs and rocks
used as they're got, I like that, same stuff, same ground, order it around.
Cozy worms little and big waving from the mud a lost end. Such clean things.
Ro when I come to Crabtree running in his red knickers hugging a dolly
blanket under his chin. His way of greeting is to rush for something to
At the library looking at color vision books repelled by the grey plastic
man-metal burrow of the world they make. I only love the saints of science,
they're out by themselves looking into no horizon. I'm far from being able
to get into it and see something I can pull. All that work now has a feel
of resistance, stiffness. Non-necessity. Wait.9
I didn't tell about having soup with Daph. Her hair like duck feathers
fluffed up and still in order. Under it the pink face and bright small eyes
I don't quite like to see, why. Its narrowness, like Goofy. Loving to tell
her about reading VW. We both like the strength of the grapple. Trying to
grasp reality she said came to an end with Woolf. I say no I don't believe
that. Daph speaks in what I know from other times is her faith: now language
turns on itself. I say language always did that but it was implicit, it
didn't take itself for the whole. I said suddenly, more positively than
I would to myself, I think when she's at that level she isn't describing
reality anymore, she's making it. Do I mean it?
The mind you make when you write, do you take it outside? No she says.
I have work and it is in and out of any medium, and oh let me live in
Diana's painting. No, first the way it was with her having tea. Tepid.
Like I shd'v gone immediately home but I wanted to sit there in her house,
so full and organized, wealthy and interesting.
The painting with its most beautiful air level, which is flowers, then
grass and leaf level, then not-earth streaks, then a lower level of more
pulled-apart streaks. Talk about underworld, Innana and the bad woman. I
say, why is it under? It's the column fault, equating ends of polarities.
The chaotic is below the formed? No, it's coextensive, it's a difference
of focus like the grass field.
The earth goddess as she painted it too thing I said. Above the
little woman's head v rich painting (poppy capsules but I said Bohemian
bird) and by her trunk the locoweed white, and red nylon paint down the
right side but on the left such an unpleasant snarl. And why the hard turquoise
around her head. A touch on the arms ignorant or careless. I knew a lot
but is it right to say. (I have so much to say here. In this accounting
voice that's one of the mid-mortal I can precipitate a lot of daily suspension
as knowing, but it's only a mid-air formation. And that, that's the chaotic,
in making. It isn't underneath it's latent. Going out of knowledge to get
knowledge. The dear fright saying this is what makes you real and unreal,
be careful -
Because so much I don't know of what it is for, for her. The left foot
snarl. The unbridge between the top and bottom.
But M today going home with just one light kiss we could both like, and
sitting on my lap in the chair, ten minutes of the best silence.
O my other work what are you, two people in stride, no through road.
If it isn't to be done what is it for? For what it is doing. I go on ephemeral.
Sad. A person in dark clothes walks back up the hill the other way. Sad
for lost fineness. I'm like an ox now. Panic. Big thigh a shamed thug. Distant
inner crying, pressing to make, who is, what if nothing were pushing. It
says yes. Listen to how the voices say.
Taking the war where it is, coming into Diana's opening. There's the
constellation and Jam dough-faced heavily padded westernized and in pain
in her short perm. Jeannie Kamins come with her lit up painted face, Nora's
maternal grace, red albino Evelyn, and then Roy [Kiyooka]. Here's one I
can challenge head to head without rancour. His porcelain teeth are just
at eye level. Okay Roy. I almost got by without speaking he says. I feel
drawn up clearly foot to head. You look well he says. I make him laugh so
the room fills. But then at the end it does die. "The bodies leave
each other, not the minds." I don't understand why there's pain again.
Talking to Jam like trying to bend cardboard. She keeps looking around.
This time I'll stand my ground: "How come you're so nervous."
She confuses me being slow and fast. "Don't you wish you had a dog
again." She's slow then but when I've riled her she gets suddenly faster
and stops me. "The mafia that controls such matters" I say. "Why
don't you stop singing that old song. Since you're working so hard it's
making the blood go to your head." That was true, I cd feel it hot
with determination. So she outflanked and edged away and went off with the
mob. What I said was true too and she got out of it in her usual way.
The house is clean. And then frightening emptiness. Eating turkey at
the Princess Café, hungry, but it will so soon be eaten and the taste
will end. The taste of food a desperate need. In winter I'm afraid for my
life. There's no freedom. Who's afraid in winter? An imaginary life. Light
fires. Candle flame is shaking in every current, why, it's lighter than
air, so stable. It has to go up from its wick, it makes a little wedge-shaped
hole for itself.
Rowen stared into my eyes signaling seeing something, maybe himself.
How did he signal - looking alert, curious, enthralled even, and holding
focus until I began to see too. A flamey subtle changing look.
Reading Lessing at 30, other people, puzzled how I came to this age without
coming into that authority standing to know. I haven't taken things on directly
so I could have them traversed behind me. I've gone around them feeling
an orientation by direction, so everything in the wide center has been felt
and oriented but not traversed.
- The picture was of a center of a circle, everything in it but nothing
mastered. What's in it is felt, not in emotion, but spatially. It's the
chora, cauldron. I know it's another method but something else has to come
of it, in it, a catalyst and then the whole broth will crystallize at once.
That's how I fancy it. But another way to say it is: stand in the sorted
broth and say anything and you will have your order around you.
Very short of money again. By next Wednesday I'll be broke for two weeks.
Looking at my hair as if it could still save me.
I go to bed at seven and lie there, and wake at four and lie there, and
am wondering whether I've been six years grieving and struggling against
the death of my young life, or the fact that death is gradual over many
years. "Go into it with curiosity and courage." But curiosity
and courage seem in many to be the first to go.
As if suicide is up ahead not as a catastrophe but because it's a power
to be claimed. One of the powers my parents feared.
- Frightened looking at money. There are 17 more days this month and
I have 12 dollars left if I can stop bank charges for overdraft. What do
I have, some squash, potatoes, chard, onions [in the garden]. Rowen has
to have another package of porridge, milk every two or three days for $2,
fish for a dollar every other day. Later there's family allowance for $31.
I thought if it were two weeks I could fast: eat 'til Wednesday, set up
the heavy work at the garden and then shut down everything. Best would be
if it were juice and greens. I can go to the food bank for Ro. He can be
at Crabtree more.
What's the food bank like. Line-up back into the alley, pale drinkers,
a few thin welfare mothers. The whites look bloodless. We're standing in
a cold wind at the Indian Center. I put my scarf over my nose to filter
cigarette smoke and factory dust, and to be able to have my own face behind
it. I see people I know who don't seem to see me, Eileen with a false I'm-all-right-look.
At the ID table there's a thin woman with brown eyes who looks me in
the face so kindly I cry now remembering her. "Is it for one?"
"No there's a baby." "Tiny? There's baby food." "No,
he's two." "A food person," she says smiling. I smile too.
She gave me heart. That's what it means. An hour ranked with the lowest
debris thinking they should be lining up for a gas chamber and then her
quality, in her thinness, poverty, long life of work, firming me in the
Starving is isolation too (I'm not starving, I had macaroni and an egg),
I choose to deceive my friends. (But I am weak and low.)
Half dozen eggs, 1 frozen fish, small can of peas, jar of green olives
pickled, box Ritz crackers, white rice, 5 day old Woodward's baguette, tin
of beef consommé. for that an hour in line at 10 and then another
forty-five minutes in the rain at 1.
Mike's story about one of his trips to Paris. He was going to stay in
a cheap hotel, they were all booked, he was wandering on the mountain with
a sleeping bag he'd bought, it was wet. He got under one of the city roadwork
shacks and lay in misery and wet and cold. People came out of the church
and pissed behind the shack so it ran downhill on him. "I didn't care,
at least it was warm." And then sometime in the night something happened
in him so that he was in a most wonderful state. When it got light he walked
around in bliss and went and sat in a café. Everything was very much
- Haven't washed clothes for three? weeks. At the laundromat there are
many machines out of order, they're old. The thin Chinese man comes to check
out how much laundry I have. Two loads he says, walks off with my token.
I say he can watch me load and say when it's enough. The soap is in. At
not even half a load he says it's enough. I don't have another dollar. I
want my dollar back, I say and begin to take wet clothes out of the machine.
I'm furious. He counts out four quarters and fetches me a garbage bag. Then
what. The old pirate's laundry on Cordova. But now I don't have soap. I'll
have to use the drying money for soap and dry it at home. It's raining.
If Cheryl comes and the house is full of wet clothes? Bad enough with the
house clean as I can make it (no soap or Comet). There's no coffee. I would
go out and try to grab some mint, which hasn't begun to grow yet. So I basically
can't afford friendship though I still have pickled olives.
Even Joyce in a padded shoulder dress. At C's party people trying to
look rich. I hate the clothes of the time. I can't imagine being current.
I want to be something else. A furious sulk. I don't want eating to depend
on joining a stupid consensus. I don't want to be hanging onto a stupid
past consensus. I hate it when I see smart women in makeup. I don't like
what's said by the clothes. The women artists in self-canceling shapes and
textures. Still, 'I hate' is up against the wall and to be able to move
it has to be curiosity and comprehension.
A particular hatred for Kiku whose greased mouth and boutique clothes
are the signals of her B Grant currency.
I've been thinking it might work if M wd pay me for sex. Fifty bucks,
I said. He cried. Last night he left 20 under the cup in the kitchen. Soap,
tampax, Vaseline for Ro's red bum, butter. "You can think about how
to spend it later."
It's a soft white-blue day not completely covered over, soft cloud in
tufts. A coat of mist over the mountains. The white side of the bank, east
side of a telephone pole, cornerboard by the Liu's door, a clean creamy
light, a real dawn. Smoke rolling out of a chimney with comical lightness,
sideways, straight up, veering. The fish plant's long whistle, 7:30. Yellow-beak
starling hunting on the roof. Jésus in his rat fur curled round at
Rhoda's broom sleeping 'til he's let in much later in the morning. Sun you're
all I have.
Work all day long in the garden, hair baked dry, crazed bush over the
forehead, cracked lips, dry cracked hands, slightly burned eyes. What am
I thinking about, I'm the tiny kinds of weeds and seedlings, that ruffly-centered
circular one I was pulling everywhere, emerald green sticky-thread veronica,
Here's the real application:
I'm in love with a piece of land. I make shapes of beds that fill with
shapes of leaves, flower tissue, colors, lights that change.
I love and work for and defend the integrity of the whole of the garden
space. I work to make it a strengthening community.
I don't have enough money for clothes, a car, food, travel, books, study.
I used to get money for study if it's called art.
Please give me a more prosperous year while I do what I'll do anyway.
Really I'm doing not studying.
I still want to make beautiful image and come into true intuition.
In the background a city allotment garden. Voices, shovel strikes, water
in ditches, squash leaves, politicians, pheasants, Saskatchewan oldtimer
lighting a smoke, earthworms, derelicts in the blackberry bushes partying
on varnish thinner.
Nearer the foreground a pleasure garden in construction. Circle in square
in rectangle, hedges, paths, reflecting pool, calendrical markers, fire
stone, beehive, arbour, aromatic perennial plants.
"Their visible presence is their discourse." Seeds, seedlings,
roots, flower tissue, plant space and gesture. What can be known from shape,
from smell and taste, from sound, from color and treatment of light.
M dressed up his best in blue jeans white shirt narrow black belt and
little white tennis shoes is a goggling sight to seduce. From all sense
of cultural value, I can't believe my good fortune to have this lovely horse
stepping about in my stable. "Your bum looks like it's thinking"
I say. We fall over giggling. The kid when we're sitting exchanging buzzes
is at the window breaking up seeing the cat smell and scratch dirt. In the
highchair yesterday screaming when M and I went around the corner to slow
dance. It's daily slow simmer these days, no intention, no grab. Our long
daily privacy with 15 minutes of cuddle to warm it up. Mr Smith in the pink
room, they're looking after each other. M is drawing with crayon at the
Carnegie Centre, Ethiopian woman in landscape. I was thinking, he's got
all his love still, I haven't now (but some). He gets a very dumb dropped
eyelid look still when he's worshipping, but so prancy a confidence with
it in his patient low life.
"I'm attracted to you because you look like Van Gogh and I'm afraid
that's the truth" he said, though he's the one with the little green
Falling asleep the other night, going to Orph's arms, I was far enough
so something happened, approximately turquoise flooded my body from his.
In the zone I had time to feel the quality of turquoise, compare it with
pink, think oh, turquoise boy. Does he know in this way? It's his
zone of knowing. Other people know how to get here.
A gold-eyed blackbird at the site, blue sheen on his neck, so sleek a
thing. They hang out near the mound.
Now slower. Sitting last night. At first v fast computing garden and
grant politics. Let it go on for a while, then put a brake on the breath.
Surprisingly complete drop into a particular quality of trance, black with
white images very fleet and partial. I was thinking it was the astral because
it was a zone of quite unpleasant images, an art rather than a nature quality,
men's demonic creation, alien and frightening. I reassured myself the breath
would hold me near myself. It did keep on steadily until I stopped, went
to sleep. Was remembering the quality of some of Michael's doodles. We wondered
if I took an imprint from sleeping next to him in the quite hellish room
above Hastings. He has that hell quality as well as real sunniness and kindness.
A man from somewhere else. I'm a young woman on the farm still. He's
a stranger like hired men were but he's better and more than other people.
He has a noble profile, a dark color. He has some dark blood. He's educated
in Greek. What I like is my relation to him. I admire him but I'm free with
him. I always know where he is in a room. I'm standing with my back to him
stretching for something or other on a shelf and looking into a reflecting
surface to see if he's looking at me. He is but I don't feel caught, I feel
we're together and wave gladly. The men are studying Hebrew, even Paul is
joining. I say I want to learn Greek.
He comes in from outside through a curtain, dressed rough or looking
a bit rough as if a shepherd, and folds down his tunic from over his belly.
There are many large loose pages in it, handwritten by him. I see one page
has XX at the top, looks like a poem in long lines, sounds like Yeats. He
says, Here's your writing.
The cold wind. Slow and tired after a night with Ro, but in a stunned
untangling of string, sighting of stakes, unknotting of orange and blue
tapes, Alex arrives quietly with his large baby beside him. "We're
Alex and Clare and we want to be gardeners." A slight darkening of
the r's and a creel on his back. I don't ask further. He smiles for
the first time when I say I have a two year old. Holds a tape for me, then
the two of them sit together quite a long time on their own land seven feet
wide. He brings things out of the basket.
Nights holding Rowen's hand, no, he firmly holds my finger, hot twitching
small hand. If I sneak away he's pawing for it along the crib bars.
Conscious when I lead people on a path, as often.
There's that and then there's common strangeness. Strangers approach
and look. I see their presenting anxiety. After some time we thaw. Sé
and his tinker boy. (I could find out what stock that is.) I grow in love
for them when I can help them or find something they can do well.
What's new. Wild phlox. The year's moment. Dark green in water in glass.
Palest cruciferae pink on stalks off the stem. Breath suspended on the window
like water masses standing around the summits. Open west after two days
The spice smell taken apart. I make the wild phlox my anniversary, the
- Someone is looking for someone
- who is her state of love.
- As she travels she learns and works.
- She leaves her work inscribed on the air.
It might be an opera with songs. It is like a gold-thread writing. Wherever
she finds again her state of love, the grain of the air forms into place
and person sharply focused. In these times she has crossed a border which
she always crosses again into unrealized time.
Color and grain and optics are themselves emblematic of the state of
love. Why is the magnifying glass that. Because love is concentrated attention.
A burning glass.
I could tell the story. We lay (a man's voice says) early in the morning.
In a working gap I say the dream answers the question about hate: I'm
integrating my father, hate won't be the end of my story.
Even violence and hate, don't dispute. They mean urgently. I feel a little
wonder that I can make them good.
Last night lying down seeing plants in a certain dark clear light, when
I saw what I was seeing, tried to see it more, it snapped off. Then I could
release it again, but I realized what I couldn't do was hold it, because
it isn't there. The sorts of seeing are very close, visionary seeing is
real seeing but not actual. Then when I try to hold it what I can get is
memory. I was wanting to learn to see it without fixing, and my idea was
that I'd then have to be lightly watching all the nonvision debris (perhaps)
What I have in memory is not quite an image, it's a slight shell of image.
A reference fragment.
When I think of the grain movie that's when I've felt the possibility
of endurance, intensity, harmony, complete use.
Muggs and I sat yakking where we'd been while M Lev placed himself on
the little hill to be filmed dominating the garden. She seemed to know what
she was doing, we were speaking actually against him as he sat in his white
platypus hat. There need to be greasy politicians, if he does it we don't
have to. I'm angry still. Finding the lens on me from the meadow, gave them
the finger, the wrong one but still when I let it go anger flared out, as
it does with but not before the willed gesture, as if it isn't anger until
It's the way he's pulled his men's club, the way they could all go clubbing
to the firehall, to make a record of and for themselves - of my creation,
my hills, my shed, MY GARDEN even.
The conversations between people who've given up, don't know they have
maybe. In the garden I'm getting used to it, used by it, they talk as if
it doesn't matter whether a thread reaches into an other mind, it's like
tangles being made in the air in front of the speaking head, that then fall,
messy and useless mats. Oh but if every voice is a spirit it is too many.
I go too slowly when something is new. Emotion is ahead of knowing and
it's accurate but what can I do about the lag. I'm coming into the arena
where there are always others who want to stop me, keep me out, take my
work for their credit, diminish my flare, and I have been kept out.
Oh Yeats the world you'd like.
Thinking about emotion (standing by the phone this morning) seeing it
is a body, that is, an organization of the body, one of them, with a tendency
to motion. I was thinking of the different avoidances at the garden - Eric,
Paul, Michael -emotion there means moving away. The division into separate
'bodies' is from the way I do what it indicates but don't understand what
it's being done for.
A sick feeling. I avoid saying my truth because I am afraid I can't justify
it. I don't know enough. Follow on from here.
What they have in common is to resent my initiative, don't themselves
want to work but don't want to be led by me, are more ignorant, less handy,
have less sight and vision but still have to feel themselves resist. I imagine
it's gender but it's something else too, I am working for an order that
cancels manhood. A rowan grove will be an atmosphere to strengthen something
in opposition to them.
When they challenge me I stop speaking to them. There are other strategies.
When anyone pushes I've been giving them a responsibility.
In all of this I'm sure what to do, how it's supposed to be, who to strengthen
and who to freeze out. In two months we've made a marvel. It works.
What it was like with Daph. Telling her the dream. She takes it into
saying how she was angry. I say about writing my mother. It's explanation
but why wrong. What was felled. "What you were saying in the restaurant,
about having lost love. Love, or romance?" "No depth." Speaking
with sparks of tears held in the eyes, head up on a straight back like a
post, oracular and blind, fixed in important pain. Holding the stage with
it. No, what exactly. I'm seeing a log with a carved head and it's telling
a story to a storyteller. A way of language coming slowly out of compression.
The words are released. "Do you not like to talk about it?" "I
like to talk about it but it makes me sad." Then at the end talking
quickly so I'd not miss saying it, about what made me stay in it. "I
wanted to learn to write." "But you couldn't write like her!"
"I didn't want to write like her but I wanted her ear." Struggling.
I think she should understand more easily than she is, but I want her to
see it even if I have to struggle on and on. "As long as I imagined
she was reading I could write." "You say imagined, wasn't she
really reading?" " No."
I want to know how she's really seeing it but I know she won't tell me.
A mind I am that is playing with powerful maturity, also watching, is
this how it is, competence. I won't go on only being this, I say in small
fear in bed at night. The steel will against men pretenders has small fear
at moments, has to defend inwardly, and is certain how - I can freeze M
Lev until something changes, Paul too. When something does change it is
easy and a pleasure to thaw, as with Sheila, and Max at times. Other people,
women, I don't imagine freezing - coaxing - I wouldn't want to meet Ellie
in a dark alley says Sheila.
An evening off. The first thing I'm free to do is to lie down, maybe
to sleep but then to lower my drawstring pants past my flanks and bring
up the covers and see a young woman on a couch asked to undress and she
does. My own rubbing isn't there although the sensation is (I've just seen
how it goes under the images I make.) She takes off her clothes and it's
easy to come sit beside her and touch her breasts. She's lying with her
arms up by her head, sometimes with her eyes open like a transparent body
showing every flush. Her body is her action, mine (is hers on the other
side) is clear because hers is, direct to all the parts, pinching the nub,
pressing in through the arch. She's the joy, I'm the doing. Then get sitting
between her legs to put the member slightly in, she's as always virgin,
she may shake or writhe but I give her a steady beat and keep her safe,
her legs over my thighs, body where I see it and can touch here (round),
down here, and later take her skull in my hands and press carefully up the
whole length. She jerks to have it faster but I measure it to inevitability,
so she has time to feel it gathering from all the outer corners, every color.
And then -
I seldom get to it now - surprises me how it releases the small of the
back, even the arms, even up into the jaw.
I used to love whatever was in my story, and that was a strength. Now,
there's really a question, what is the difference between that strength
and this debris. Like standing in the splinters of a house. Confidence.
I want to see the doubleness here. It's really a loss. But I'm not in dismay,
more like gone-into-a-seed, contraction to endure until heart can be a generous
1st of June
Rowen is a more interesting age, this morning standing in the corridor
between two walls of poppies higher than he, staring at a bee in a flower,
pulling bud pods apart, had a beautiful intent look on his face. His upper
lip was standing in a serious marveling pull. M and I watching from behind
the peas. He sees the bee ram across the path to another poppy and a sound
comes out the shape of his feeling, as later when M and I are carrying Henry's
greenhouse up the path and he coming behind screeching (and Fiona by her
Waking alone this morning jumping up making tea reading the autobiography
of a girl soldier going out to breakfast making it a U-turn and over the
many tracks to the fisherman's café. Realizing abruptly I must go
do the orchard research or Yarrow will be plunking them in [the trees].
Get to Burrard from the waterfront road, and there, towers and another
kind of people, sharp women. My loved kind of day boring through a yard
of books, diamond bit, high speed no waste and I come out knowing how the
orchard should be, surface planting in hard-pan, clover and mulch, grass
to self-seed, hexagon plan for the large trees, smaller net interposed stone
fruits, (total comes to our $1000), room for potatoes beans pumpkins. Has
to be mown.
On plate glass I've been seeing a handsome woman, impressive and hard,
experienced, unveiled, honed, supple. Yes I like her, Ed is being added
in me, rage, spite, bitterness, solitude, calculation, an open sneer, open
lust, indifference, opportunism, arrogance, fatigue, pragmatism, susceptibility,
the many veils, and ruthless leadership and ruthless creation, success by
doing what's necessary in the rung one down from my real front.
Fighting with Michael a weariness. He'll do anything to save himself
from the strain of feeling bad. I feel bad and am cut off
from love and pleasure and know something essential depends on getting through
this partnership lightly tyrannically and without eating death's bread.
It means I'm in death (tho' looking prospering) and can be nowhere else
in transition from where I was killed, but will be able, if I do nothing
to make it possible for Michael to hold me in death, to open my heart again
when I have passed through him into the upper world again. So I believe.
Knowing I could be wrong. But certain.
No pity or reason can change it. It's Ed's purple room maybe. But I do
test Michael sometimes to see if I'm wrong, I have a heart movement toward
him and it's always stopped by what he is, his weakness. I don't have it
thought out, there's always argument, it always comes again: no, I can't
rely on him, I can trust him only when I control him.
The house in summer mornings raked with lines of light from the northeast,
shouts in a diamond. Balcony door stands open, pigeon's wings in a turbine,
the stream of sound from some unknown fan, a car on Hastings. It's our river,
and beyond it the docks. A divine morning, lonely, with my hair around me,
own strong solid body. I woke hardly later than when Ro is here, but with
my own border making it this way, divinely quiet.
There were two cats singing. I can hardly believe my ears. In their voices
they are people. Enthralling comprehensible singing. I listen so close,
there's far more to hear than I can hear. Thinking of taping it. Choy's
boys fire a stone. The two shoot out from behind the plum tree and walk
away in opposite directions not looking back. The one I can see is a matted
pale orange, walking stiff as if maybe old. - No way to know whether it
was the contralto or the treble. The contralto was leading and had a strong
scraping inner buzz like a wise self-enjoying baby. The treble was a small
frail replying voice not as assertive as a baby, less bodied, I mean blond
Want to say the wonder I feel about the way now I have reflexes. I put
the open book across the gap from bath to table with my left hand; it starts
to slide; my right hand that was nearer shoots out and is there for the
book to fall into. Have a square-sided plastic flower pot in my hand, cleaning
up at the shed. Want to set it into the little tower of pots inside each
other on the ground. Drop it. Marveling watch it fall corner-for-corner
precisely into place.
Betsy's face in unusual shapes (we're standing laughing beside her plot,
talking about how her mother took the news of her baby) - goggling but large
and clear eyes, large buckled teeth but beautiful pale rose porcelain skin,
wide quirked mouth, eyes so pale blue it makes an evenness of tone across
the whole face so the darkest thing (as I see it at this moment) is the
corners of her mouth. Makes her seem bleached. - It's VW giving me permission
to say such things about nice people I also like.
It's eleven o'clock, an exciting smell of ash in the air, street voices,
a live night, and I'm awake in it, rested, ready to go on and begin to work.
Oh summer night (not quite) when there's going out like walking into
deep water. Something wakes up. It's more than two years since I could.
The livest nights, time all open, spirit can essay and be frightened.
And what would it find. The doubleness that for one self no doing or
saying is right or real, and for the other making and saying are permitted
and necessary creation of right and real. And ah this finally is in the
marriage (says the one). Then I take a breath.
The lamp shines down out of its red hood onto nasturtiums so vivid in
color, so gentle in scent. Little shivering divisions of coriander leaf.
California poppies in wound sheets. Looking into any of these flowers seems
almost forbidden I notice. Standing by the shirley poppies in the garden,
like staring at the sun - they are so active, they are so creased that they
shade and tint themselves and the multiplicity of near colors seems dangerous.
Kazuo Ishiguro Pale view of hills. What was it about it, pale,
yes. I kept the image almost undescribed of a rutted yellow-grassed piece
of waste ground seen from a concrete housing-project apartment. A woman
alone in all her relations on the other side of calamities that have left
her in a riven silence. Child-killing. It's very near me, it isn't the safer
beauty of Sound of the mountain. A bleached view. I know calamity
now. Her calamity so deep he shows it reflected. The way I know though I
try for myself to.
What did I see. A structure from some vision, a division. Say it in the
brutal way to have no escape. How could he do it so well. It's sublime.
A child in the café screams out, tea dumped on his lap. Will they
know what to do? They are minutes fussing with the leg of his trousers.
"Put cold water on it right away; cold water" I say and sit down
again. The manager comes at last with a cold cloth. Father with the baby
lying quiet on his lap. I'm overwhelmed, sit writing to calm myself. How
many times these years I've sat in cafés holding tears.
These two days reading over this volume. What do I think? Selecting from
it put me partway into the mind of the blue pages. Like being on its margin
and looking across the width of the desert I was surrounded by, crystalline
detail in encompassing light.
No. Start again. Reading through is the flight over many patches of land.
Handwriting on one page a small precision that doesn't recur. Many figuring-out
minds I reject now. I'm often frightened and rebalancing myself. Often repulsive
in false unusual words. My novel style is working sometimes, I'm doing it
without intention but there seems to be a training in it, to be able to
write inside the ordinary tradition and take the experimental as subject
and not style. I'm suspicious of that - subspicious it said - watching whether
it's giving up knowledge I haven't been able to share or whether it's learning
means to bridge without dying to my best. In either style, rational or gestural
- is that what it is - explicative or indicative - the pull of focus is
what rewards. It's always a second thought, the first language to come is
a vague paraphrase, the anyhow-compromise for blunt ears. That's interesting
too, what is the first voice and why doesn't it try. Why is trying added
like trained behavior. Why doesn't the common repertoire want to know?
I have to be so many years teaching myself by picking shreds out of reading.
In the garden at nightfall, after sunset, after the luminous clouds,
in the time when the west is a uniform incandescent pale yellow. I said
I was patrolling. It's Eric who asks. I put myself in Mr Li's garden to
look across mine at the compost box lids. There was the brushing up of stalks,
leaves and all colors of flower framed in the trellis, in that light, paths
clay white, every other color without glare burning its own lamp. What I
can't say, the *strave wave of the slumped poppy stalks, the way all the
growing stuff peaks at that end of the frame. I goggle at how marvelous
it suddenly looks, a whole shape.
Flirting at the garden. Tony in his cute shorts raving about the slaughter
of the innocents. I say, cutting across it, Tony you're very shapely you
know that. What? he says. Thought that would get your attention.
Then both of them pour their mad talk onto me.
Do you enjoy your eyes? I say flirtatiously, cutting across again. All
around, the grass splendid, broom hung with black sickles, gloss and heat
and sky zooming with radiance reflecting out. Ha, that one he caught, and
bundled in right up to me and took off his glasses laughing, I bet you
We're on the mounds. Eric has come competing. In his word by word responsible
way Eric is saying he's not interfering with the plots. I wouldn't dream
of you ever interfering with any plots I say. I think I detect a double
meaning, says Eric. I got a triple, says Tony, which is more than I did
at the time.