Vancouver May 28 2012
In all these meetings with old friends there's a quality of hearsay.
This isn't the person I knew but I'll go along with the fiction that it
It was better by the river, wide flat surface rapidly flowing west. Taste
of balsam poplar in my mouth, Mary and I holding Nootka roses for their
scent, we two sitting on a rock, Paul standing, a robin scratching noisily
in the leaves. I was happy to be with Paul remembering things like sucking
pussy willows and the balsam poplar scent along the road next to the creek,
our mother or father calling us to eat by honking the Mercury's horn, headlights
at night and listening to the truck shift down at the corner. Mary was there
with us, it seemed. We were kidding her. She asked what had been the worst
she'd done to us. Paul laughed and told the story of the time she washed
his mouth with soap. We agreed there'd been hardly anything bad.
The best thing yesterday Leah Wiebe and her house and garden up the street.
Her dimples and ringed silver-blue eyes and eager spirit. The way she arrived
just as David and I were standing at her gate and took us through to her
banked garden beds and brick paving and orange rhododendron and beautiful
house bootlegged into the back shed - her smart inventions and she among
them so bright and lovely, generous and bold. The long table I laid out
my thesis chapters on. My kitchen chair with yellow paint in its creases,
a fireplace insert like piled glowing coals. Two armchairs in her upstairs
bedroom. The good narrow stairs.
Then David shooting down the old river road in the little yellow truck
that next time will be gone. Dorothy just turned 99, sitting reading a book
with a large magnifying glass, reading the first paragraph of the chapter
aloud twice because she had forgotten she'd read it. There was the old house
swamped in leaves as always, and the soft air heaven-scented, and silver
light on the river, but this time the magic didn't take.
From the skytrain clumps of dames rocket here and there in many corners
of waste ground, blackberries yards deep.
I'm tired, want to be sitting on the train moving slowly through wet
2nd, Seattle train station.
Taxi driver, $5 fare. I give him $10. "I have two ones," he
says. "I have four ones," I say. He jumps out and asks another
driver for change. I give him a dollar tip.
Dark damp day.
Coast Starlight, Amtrak
Queen Anne's lace, vine maple, hemlock, black poplar, some low yellow
flower thick in patches, elder, willow, mustard, horsetail, nettle, blackberry,
bulrush. Sumner Wash. rhubarb capital of North America. Gorse, daisies.
Saturday morning. Water standing on fields, geese, buttercups, yellow
iris, alder, salmonberry, brown creek with tall saplings fallen across,
Tacoma, railcars in the yard, complicated fading graffiti, flowing American
Paul still calls her Mom. I never do.
Gravel on the railbed shades of grey and rust, facets sharply separated
by shadow. Chinese container ship called the Good Luck. Buddleia along the
tracks. Sun. Northern Fish Co. Long tunnel and then here's Tacoma Narrows.
Geese on the beach bending their necks to sip fresh water rippling through
Divers stumping toward the water's edge carrying tanks. Pierce County
Seven drunks with a loud phone.
Two really old women opposite. Wide stretch of patterned mud, winding
little channels. Two-lane blacktop below grade, double yellow line, car
keeping pace. I remember that sleek green river. Fir, foxglove, water lilies,
ferns, oh bulkers how do you let it pile on like that. She brought up a
packet of doughnut holes. TV in the hotel room this morning smiling people
selling smooth skin, tight muscles, redemption, baby fawns.
Twenty square miles of mysterious mounds. Rowen and I on the couch before
he comes with me to the station lays his head on my shoulder. He's all awash.
Gorse in ugly lumps.
Salem. Sun on the west side of the train.
The train when I was seven, overnight from Edmonton. I was traveling
alone. Seat on the right side of the train, wooden windowsill, waxed paper
cup of water had black dust settle on it overnight. Mighty Mouse comic,
the man walking the aisle selling pop - Orange Crush in a brown bottle -
and comics - rented out pillows too and let me have one. NAR line. In the
morning I was worried that I wouldn't know when to get off. I think I recognized
the yellow house where the La Glace road crossed the track, that I thought
looked like another kind of house, adobe.
Paul saying that during sermons he studied the way the church was made.
Tie rods across, lamps on long chains.
Eugene. Judie's hair is pure white, she's stopped coloring it.
The time Paul was with other boys at a dugout and they were going to
teach him to swim. They towed him out but then abandoned him. He sank. He
realized it wasn't far to the edge and just walked out along the bottom.
We asked if that had been his first drink. It was in high school. He
was out with friends. They took off his pants and threw them on a roof.
He was afraid worse would follow but they brought back his pants and gave
him a beer.
"Sense is not common" says the bar car attendant.
Starting to climb into the Klamath range.
Pale horizontal sun.
Purple vetch, California poppies.
What did he say, "I'm five eight," taking off his cap and stroking
his thick grey hair. "I used to be six one. I shrunk five inches. My
dick shrunk two inches. My liver shrunk." His name is Eric. He's sick,
he says. He has the seat next to me but went off to the bar car. Green pants
held up with suspenders, beard, scraggles of dirty hair behind his ear.
Retired welder. Small farm in Michigan, his dad had four sons when he married
his mom. Parkinson's. "It's in the blood." He's vociferous, yells
that Canada is pacifist, the Chinese will take over. I say calm down. He
says it's the Parkinson's.
Long smears of colored cloud across the west. Mountain peaks under them.
We've been in sandy pine country for hours.
"You're silver grey" he said. He was looking at the reflection
on the glass beside me, "Double jeopardy." He had big eyes held
wide, was a loud talker, five months younger than me. He was in an end care
facility three months ago. Lives in a trailer on the Rim in Arizona.
Moon a couple of days from full.
What's this vast flat plateau. I've seen it in snow haven't I.
The propane tanks along the tracks he said are for heating switches.
Good morning Sacramento. Apricot sunrise. Old wild man Eric on the platform
below the window arranging his roll-on. Looks like a clean shirt. He left
me both seats overnight, "Do what you need to," took his pillow
and jacket to the next car. How he told me about the stars on the Rim, both
hands over his head zooming them down.
Clear sky. Put up my head and saw a palm tree.
Strawberry fields at Salinas, Queen Anne's lace thick, fennel, egrets
in the marsh. Mustard and Queen Anne's lace. Artichokes.
Sometime during the drifty night a sweet swift little come.
Perfect evenness of rows of crops. Large camp under an overpass.
First time I took this train I was wearing work boots spray-painted silver
and had a little boy who'd flown to England.
Completely bare hills worn to chalk.
I only caught half Eric's talk but didn't he say "You're real"?
Now we're coming into the best country. One o'clock seating. Oaks. Cottonwoods
and willows either side of a dry crik. We're rising. Camp Roberts, vast
base. Satiny glow on those hills, is it wild oats.
Swaths drying. Golden stacks of bales.
Live oaks' best dark green.
People put up with tinny crashing sound from their digital devices, that
makes my ear canal feel scraped.
5 June, Amtrak, 3 o'clock train from Union Station.
Santa Ana, scrap metal yards, pipes, tires. Pre-owned auto mall.
Dying orange orchard, a few of the trees still bearing. San Juan Capistrano,
"This is going to be a very brief station stop." Brilliant-leafed
plum tree. Jacaranda. Matilija poppy clumps in high flower. Bougainvillea
on the wire fence, San Diego red. River bed in concrete sleeve. Piles of
chopped wood, shaped dirt.
- Here's the sea. Brilliant green, blue band along the horizon. Beach
houses on tight lots. Foam. O lifting green glass. Reed fields.
Loved the smell when we got out of the car at the tar pits. Spots on
the tarry surface where something was bubbling up from primeval depths into
the center of a vast complicated city.
Ocean, ocean below. Tom's purple-flowering banks. Lone walker on the
Mesa Grande June 9
Tom and I saw a turkey hen moving circumspectly in the corner of long
grass I've left for compost. Then one by one fuzzy pullets, was it six,
or ten, coming after her in little leaps.
I've been back two days. Am in the chair in quite a cool breeze looking
out onto hills where the grass is almost completely dry.
Am I back with Tom? I'm not wanting to ask. I told him I'd had his photo
next to my bed in Vancouver and his heart opened wide, he said. I was lying
in my own bed at his house feeling something like desire and when his massage
got down to the lower halves of my bum cheeks and he said he should stop
or he'd transgress. I said, Oh, transgress.
Next day drove back with me looking fine in his new jeans and black summer
shirt. We had a short sharp fight on Black Canyon Road. I wanted to drive.
He took it straight to insult, stared at me - we were stopped on the road
- and said You know what, fuck you. What did I say, something completely
disarming he said later, like Nevertheless . I seethed, then spoke up and
he saw my reason, "You're making points now," and I got to drive,
which made me happy. So then we arrived and the house was alright, ate chicken
and salad under the oaks, he drinking tamarindo he was delighted to find
at the Albertson's in Ramona. I liked hearing him talking about writing
and about his newsletter committee and his dream when he was little, of
rising with his bed and floating over Philadelphia.
Plagues of mice, flies and ants. So many small flies come around my head
that I can't sit on the bench outside. Processions of small ants climbing
into the plant pots on the sill looking for water. Dead mouse on the mudroom
floor this morning. Sore eyes from the dryness.
Did a Santa Ana wake me. Blowing this morning from the east. I was woken
by dryness maybe - eyes, sinuses up into my forehead, skin of my lips. Have
been feeling how the house shelters me - from flies, ants, dryness, the
snake, even mountain lions, which I'd wonder about if I were sleeping out.
Two o'clock, 90 degrees, the hottest it's been. Sunday afternoon. The
fridge shudders off. Bit of a breeze hissing through the hard oak leaves,
comes in with a scent of hot pine.
The front of the house faces oat-colored savannah. The back faces oak
forest. A few yellow leaves already on the locusts.
Airplane's singing growl. A moth like a floating leaf crosses bright
in front of the shaded side of the pine.
This afternoon the cattle are bawling continuously down beyond the hill,
did Norman ship calves.
Sometimes very briefly imagining the world as locked and moving patterns
of invisible non-substance - how that would look, a visualization.
Locked out when I got back from the library, going around the side of
the house with a ladder, seeing a snake laid lengthwise on the dry leaves
next to the treeroom steps, so still I'm wondering if it's dead. Four feet
long, brown bands. I move sideways but pause. Don't see rattles. When I've
got in through the kitchen window I go back with the camera. It's gone.
Am thinking now it's a gopher snake hunting and maybe living under the house.
Schlange - that word from long before I'd seen a snake, a Sunday school
I like the moments before the sun is over the horizon, when the hills
glow evenly bright.
Nearly 7. Four turkey hens coming up from the pasture with maybe two
dozen quail-sized pullets. They have a route under the pine down into the
stream-cleft west of the house. Could hear a lot of rustle as they made
I love the smell of cooking apricots -
There's a wind today, southeast, strong enough to keep off the flies.
Sunday afternoon, sun very nearly overhead, so the oak's shadow is thrown
straight down. Warm scented dry air, soft buffet on the face's skin. Grasshoppers
flowing like blown leaves off the stone pine's edge. Motorcycles growling
down on Mesa Grande. Smell of strawberries on my fingers - warm strawberries,
that long-ago smell. Isn't it the best possible air, warm lit upland air
- clair et beau said Luke, who found the poem in the old Vancouver library
and wrote it in his journal. Luke who likes his name.
The long breaths of the three pines in the corner where the hawk settled
on a middle branch just now. There goes his shadow on the grass.
Suddenly saw that I shd dedicate Mind and land to Frank and Janeen.
Just their names.
Wind in the oak canopy scrapes dryly, in the stone pine is a dark soft
Tiny ticks, grasshoppers landing.
The air is extraordinarily spiced, different than yesterday.
What was that conference of birds, a dozen raptors circling over Angel
Mountain, different kinds - one must've been a bald eagle, white head and
tail. One was pale pink, was that a ferruginous hawk? Turkey vultures. I
saw them from the driveway as I was going to back up toward Angelo's to
get a couple of flat rocks for my steps.
I worked all morning, boots, gloves, cap, workshirt, moving stone with
the heavy iron wheelbarrow, hacking at hard ground with pick and the flat-sided
shovel I went up to the cabin to borrow. At first I was stopping every couple
of minutes to let my heartbeat settle but then I used breath to shift gears
and had the kind of hours I love, steady work with stone. I'm proud to have
stone steps instead of the messy ramp I was slipping on.
Brought over the old sawhorse from the tractor shed too, have it next
to the chair for my teacup. Its tool shelf can hold pencils and a sharpener,
From the chair at nine in the morning, the view has a ripe look, a blue
plum bloom on the hills.
For a week I had nightmares every night. In
one I stepped out of a house into twilight. The world was engulfed in a
meteor stream and I could see rocks falling from the sky, plunging into
the river in front of me.
His face changed in subtle ways as I sat with
him on the last day of his life. I knew where we were. I knew what was happening;
we both did. We both knew I wasn't there to help him or to give him medication,
to get right with him or tell him something before he died. I wasn't even
there to say goodbye. I just wanted to be with him.
When my father was dying his face had all his
ages in it all the ages he had ever been, all at once and with a kind of
transparent clarity that seared away my anxiety and dread. I could feel
myself resist his beauty because it changed everything to accept it. It
made talking about loss, for example, a figure of speech: convenient more
than accurate, convenient because how would I ever describe what was really
Susan - what about her - brilliant bad Susan. Take up your bed and follow
me. She said, and I didn't trust her. For good reasons I didn't trust her,
and yet what she turned on was the right thing. The point is to live where
I was reminded to live by her. Thou'rt neither, neither thy capacity.
What needs to be finished. The death I've been wanting is that death.
What needs to be finished first.
In the meantime this glistening small hayfield running with birds, this
jiggling canopy, this air.
- Jesus / keep me near the cross
- There my glory / ever
- Free to all / a healing stream
- Flows from Calvary's / fountain
That came into my head - what Christians used to know about intensity,
what we sang.
There a little yellow-legged grasshopper lit on the page. Its small grip
on my fingertips, the strong kick as it leapt away.
Cattle crying in the hollow.
She quotes Frederick Smith on 'consciousness':
because of the abuse, confusion, and ambiguity
of this word revealed in contemporary discursive practice, I have avoided
it wherever possible.
She says "I was in constant good company as I read."
What is sought after through development of
the body "is 'altered states' but not 'of consciousness' but of the body." This can also be said whether the possession
is deemed positive or negative.
She quotes someone, "Power is the ability
to take one's place in whatever discourse is essential to action and the
right to have one's part matter."
Obama's health care law upheld by the Supreme Court this morning. Tom
phoned right away.
What sort of visit it was. Many kinds of moment that somehow as I drove
away alone from the bus summarized as love. He was what he is, loud, but
he'd catch himself and ask me something. He lay on the couch with a round
hairy belly peeking between his shirt corners but he smacked it later and
said he must work on it this summer. I had disaffected moments but I didn't
exactly hate him. When he'd been telling me much too much about why Pilgrim
is mad at him and I hauled him short he said, It's because I want you to
know everything about me. So then I had one hand lightly on his ribs and
one lightly on his brushcut making a circuit of brief perfect liking. We
were lying in my bed in the dark. He takes my stops and crotchets so forgivingly.
I'm reading what she wrote in London in 1920 nearly 100 years later in
a place where there are open miles instead of thoughts. Breeze from the
southeast swaying the canopy. Chair facing blue Mount Cuyamaca with its
much-dotted foothills. Fields now the color of wheat. Woodpeckers when they
fly draw a white band around themselves.
In under a spotlight now. The sun directly overhead, even a bit north
of directly overhead, shining white on the page through a hole in the twigs.
- I won't always be here in this air, with a pink hawk circling somewhere
above, in an unimaginedly right chair under a blue oak above golden slopes.
There won't always be this long branch reaching forward over my head lit
from below by stubble all alive with dry-grass-colored grasshoppers.
- There are the turkey children with their blue-headed mothers. I hear
one burbling, purring, behind me. Footsteps crackling in the straw. - Treading
through the periwinkle, where grasshoppers are spraying up. - And moving
on all outlined in light. The mothers stop and stretch their necks to listen.
Then pinned a turkey feather to drawing paper and photographed it with
its shadow, and there it is posted, a lovely subtle thing.
When I come out of any of my four doors there's always a scuttle of some
creature - always. When I come through the periwinkle down the path always
something I can't see rustling away under the bent stems.
G says "Well, a studio shot, as it were, against a white background.
The needle and the shadow make the picture, I'd say."
- you knew I would love this
- yours is a feather and more
- the mating of worlds
- water air fire earth even and ether too
- you are a marvelous eye
He told the paramedic he was overbearing. She said, "What?"
He repeated it. He meant he had been bearing too much. He was on the bench
beside me. A lot of very red blood on his forearm and his shorts, a deep
clot across his wrist. He'd come to the open door calling to me to phone
for an ambulance.
Two sheriffs in big SUVs, an ambulance, a fire truck, Linda and Gary
in their golf cart.
Now it's next morning and I'm still rehearsing. In what way. A couple
of things. One is feeling for their misfortune, which is that they are not
adequate to themselves. They were trying, they were doing their best, but
there was having to move, all those trips with a little trailer, and then
the car running out of gas, and not having a phone, and her paranoia coming
back so that she suddenly quit her job because she thought someone said
something bad about her kid, and being out of money, and the check not in
the mailbox yesterday, and the fact that he'd asked his family to send him
a ticket and she found out about it, and all their stuff still lined up
along the driveway, and her 30 years with the Mormons, and a rape sometime
back then, and a West African husband who had that kind of attitude to women,
and moving from Oregon to California, and for him having been in jail nine
years ago, and the fact that his brothers and sisters are all successful
and he's a screw-up, and a couple of pit bulls to feed, and those two beautiful
- Here's the sheriff who came to check on her this morning. A sheriff
and the minister there until nearly ten last night calming her down, I suppose,
He wanted to escape and found a way to do it that lets him off the hook
for abandoning her. Wrote a note, went into the bathroom and broke a razor
blade in half. Fell asleep, he says, and when he came to ran down the hill
to me. "I need help." "You're a kind lady."
The other way is going over how I was in it. I went out barefoot among
the neighbours and firemen and sheriffs. It didn't seem important to hide
my foot. When the 911 dispatcher was asking her list of questions there
were a couple of things I didn't want Nick to hear me saying. She asked,
"What color is his hair?" I hesitated and then said, "There
isn't much of that." "He's bald?" Yes. She asked, "Is
he black, white, Asian, or Hispanic?" I said "I don't think that
question is appropriate to answer." She asked "What color shirt
is he wearing?" He wasn't wearing a shirt but I didn't want to say
that either. I said, "It will be obvious" and she let it go and
passed me through to the EMT people to give them directions.
When the sheriff wanted to take my statement, he said "Let's go
inside," which was tactful because Nick was still on the bench. I said,
"Sit down," I meant in the one chair, and he did, so he was taking
notes at my desk while I was standing in front of him. I liked him. He had
a humane smart-enough look. Then later when he wanted to finish taking my
statement in front of Gary and Linda, I said "Let's go inside."
I didn't want it to be the gang of sane people standing around talking about
the wild people. It did become that later though, and I could understand
the good in it, people needing to know what's going on in their neighbourhood
because they are the sort of people who look after things. At the same time
the unpleasantness of bonding by means of saying things about other people.
I'm on the bench in sunglasses. There's a rabbit snooping all around,
who came close, I thought because he couldn't see my eyes. His face with
his long ears up reminded me of a deer, and at the same time he seemed a
little rodent. He was edging toward the least spikey haworthia, which he
has nibbled before.
What I'm understanding more about living in this country is why people
are nervous about anyone they don't know. One unstable or ignorant person
can bring disaster onto everyone. For instance Nick saying he could like
to make a bonfire.
Linda telling about the woman who liked to jog down to the mailboxes
until she saw a mountain lion crossing the road just there, and about the
deer she saw gutted by a lion on her yard. She watches for vultures. One
year it was two of Norman's calves.
The pullets are looking more like turkeys, longer paler jerkier necks.
There are still the same number of them, the mothers have taken good care.
Hello Monday. Sweet clear Monday 7:30. I slept right through and woke
in daylight hearing turkeys chuckling and purring under the window.
Letter from G last night saying he was taken aback by Misery and
meaning he thinks it's inappropriate to the project to stick in anything
so confessional. I looked at it just now and liked it a lot. It's interesting
and quite balanced-feeling. I wrote back about ways a life in art is hard.
G is too frightened of emotional pain, it limits him.
When I was in high school and college I worked like mad because I loved
succeeding: there was a framework for unambiguous and immediate success
that I still believed in. Art is not like that. Best work often succeeds
unobviously or after a long delay or not at all. It's a hard way to live.
Drove from Julian and stopped to open the gate in 100 degrees in the
shade. I came up the lane waving my whole arm out the window reveling in
the bath of hot air.
A squirrel on his back legs on the gatepost rock staring toward the north
end of the cedar windbreak chipping. I see its little mouth opening and
closing as regularly as if it were a little automaton. A single note very
high and as loud as a whistle. I can have no idea what it's about.
Thinking of David Mann and Doris in their tent on the banks of a green
river, he 25 and she five months pregnant. "I would go to the river
which was about 50 feet from us and catch enough trout for our supper."
She wanted cremation and we decided that should
the necessity arise, the Maligne River in Jasper would be the final resting
place for the ashes. We chose the Maligne I suppose because of its wild
turbulent yet alive nature and because we had spent such good and wonderful
years together on its banks.
Black Canyon Road two months later, very changed but still an hour of
rapturous color. The road almost white and always turning. Banks and slopes
grey, rust, taffy-colored, with gardens of cream-colored buckwheat flowers
hung from dark granite or fox-red sand banks. The taffy color is parched
mustard stalks or grass, the grey is some other dried thing that at a distance
covers the slopes with mauve patches. Closer up, rosy long fronds of white
sage seed stalks, or the littler mauve flower stalks of dudleya. Everywhere
spalted rock faces in endless variations of color.
This afternoon there was a dark sky ahead to the north, with once a ray
of sun on the white road where it came around a corner miles, miles, ahead.
I was steering with my right arm, a lot of steering, window down, seatbelt
undone, third gear, never faster than 15 mph, often no gas, just touches
of the brakes, looking everywhere, perfectly absorbed.
At the top end there began to be a smell of wet hay or heated grain.
I hadn't seen it on the dirt road but on the asphalt it was obvious that
it had rained. Puddles at the gate, and when I was coming up the lane enough
of a pelt so I had to turn on the wipers. Loud run-off onto the patio rock.
Came in and opened all the doors to the hay scent, which is reaching me
on the couch as I'm drinking Louie's organic Himalyan tea.
My lovely Ramona excursion also brought home cherries, nectarines, strawberries,
melon, raspberry kefir, feta, Irish white cheddar, avocadoes, radishes,
small cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, green beans, fish, steak, cranberry
essence, and a dark blue fitted sheet from the goodwill.
Talking to Louie this morning early about the shame I feel when Tom is
sleazy. I say, If I'm with someone who is sleazy does that mean I'm sleazy?
I would never show Tom at [the college] or at a screening, and I feel inordinate
relief when he has taken care of himself and looks good. She said it does
not show that I'm sleazy, I'm not sleazy, it shows that I'm injured. So
then I get it. There's my visible injury and then there is this other visible
injury, and the second matters because of the first.
I've been happy in the house, for instance loving the air at the open
front door and the clean mat at the kitchen door. Clean floor in the mudroom.
At the same time have had fantasies that if a mountain lion attacked
me I would let it have me. - Had one just now, in the midst of this beautiful
day, this air and light I love.
I don't think I've had this steady underlying wish for death before.
It's not the suicide voice of acute pain, it's just quietly there.
A hawk's shadow runs quietly over the grass.
Am I letting my early self down, should I be fighting more, for the sake
of her story. Something like that is what I feel about what I've said above.
As I was speaking to Louie this morning, from the couch gazing down across
the field, a wide flock of birds, two hundred birds, was skimming through
the cows grazing on the slope, back and forth many times, always low to
the ground, swooping along the curve of the hill.
Singing at the computer - Mozart - thinking of Mary at the sink or the
stove with her back to the room singing as she worked. Cotton housedress,
apron, sturdy bare calves.
It's as if the house before it was moved is the only true home and everything
after that not worth remembering.
There I think of a moment that was worth remembering. When the house
had been moved to the west place it was rotated so our bedroom window faced
east rather than west. I remember waking in sun one morning at the end of
the school year and lying in bed in a blaze of joy that I would soon be
leaving for the summer and then university.
I feel a pressure in the center of my chest when I think of that house
with my parents young. Why is it. The naturalness of surrounded belonging.
There were things to fear and be dissatisfied about but the framework itself
hadn't yet been disrupted. The house and yard and surrounding land and the
family were all one thing, which I was. Within that one thing I didn't know
I was, I had struggles and pleasures I thought of as myself. The Still
at home journal isn't worth much because it identifies itself only with
those struggles and pleasures and ignores the whole.
When the house was moved we no longer coincided with ourselves. After
that it was one disintegration after another. Ed and Mary moved again, and
then again, and then again. Opa and Oma moved, and then again, and then
again. The floor blurred, is that the way to say it.
At my age, the more alive you are, the more you're aware of death. Samuel
I've been working these days, all day. It gets very hot in the afternoon.
I'm at the desk in loose cotton singlet and loose cotton pyjama pants, keep
glasses of water in the fridge so the whole glass will be cold. Don't want
to eat very much. Have the whole door open to the day.
What it was like before, when I couldn't work: intention just faded away
at the thought. What it's like now: intention doesn't come into it, I just
3rd August Plainfield
Katie's presentation - that was my doing - she stood in front of a packed
room in cut-offs and a plaid shirt over black lace. Slender little thing
with a long neck and serious pointed face. She was a vivid demonstration
of her thesis, the way she moved about in front of us - leaned forward on
the podium sometimes to confide joyfully, or would stop unselfconsciously
to ponder her outline - so free and focused. "You stayed in touch with
yourself the whole time, you stayed in touch with your audience," Lise
said. The way she handled questions. The way she was clear and direct the
whole way through. "The democratic voice is the voice of the whole
- I gave her the framework that let her make that of herself. I defended
her ardent joyful generous spirit, I gave her a defense against what wants
to erase her. I coached her. I coached her in detail: be careful how you
say it. I started her with Gilligan and she blazed into recognition. It
was easy for her to understand that wanting to learn something and wanting
to become something are the same thing. Her semester with Campbell crushed
her - Campbell couldn't stand her girlness. She came out of that semester
lost, sobbing. She was honorable in distress. She persisted in confusion,
she trusted me with her questions. She knew I was on her side. Her thesis
was called The release and integration of feminine-associated ways of
knowing, feeling and being in a patriarchal, androcratic society.
A woman I can want to be like, she says and I meet it square. Yes I know
about that I say, there was just one woman who knew anything. She has died.
If you ever need help, she said. I'm young and strong. I want to carry
your suitcase. That was the little seed of realness of this res, one person
who could see that the four performances of work I gave are strong and exceptional
gifts. I could teach the evolution of the cortex in a way I was never taught
it, that gives them the essence. I demonstrated the strong exceptional thing
a human can be and told them how to make themselves that too. I set up for
them a conversation that let them show themselves and see each other well.
I was great-hearted in my wishes for them and said so directly when it seemed
to matter. I said I'd done the last exercise too, looking at myself from
the all-seeing point of love. That being had seen all the little things
I don't like about how I look but had also seen my great-heartedness.
Mesa Grande 15 August
Bit after 7, first morning back. Sun over the broken oak, lot of smoke
and it's thickening. Four lightening fires, the largest south of the road
I take to Borrego Springs.
In you I sense the vastness of female possibility and onto my knee
I go, with due chivalry and awe.
I see a fierce and subtle beauty, married by the mounting integrations
of time, who conducts herself with such nuanced discretion that only a few
notice her passing.
Thick blue-ish smoke quite aromatic because it's sage, pines and chaparral
is filtering and tinting the light. The sun is lower, reaches almost across
the bookshelf now, pinkish pale ivory.
I bought a bed, iron bedstead someone dug up behind a cabin at the Eagle
Peak Mine. Heavy to drag out of the back of the jeep and awkward to set
up by myself. It was for Emilee but now I like it outside. I have set it
under the driveway oak and was lying on it in the dark looking at single
stars that were like the single notes of Simple lines of enquiry
I could hear through the screen door. I haven't had an outside bed since
the lake house. Bats blur past. The crickets grind away at layered distances.
Woodpeckers playing in the clear sky above the road, four of them, no
maybe five, or six, swooping up, diving, fluttering, urking. The white patches
on their wings look transparent against the sky. They're excited. They seem
to rise to some point and then pivot and fall.
Weds 22nd August
Coleridge saying that in perceiving one can't tell the effect of the
object from the effect of one's own senses because "we become conscious
both of the one and of the other in one and the same way, namely, as modifications
of our own Being."
A squirrel chipping out in the late afternoon. Why now. Why persistently.
Is it devotional.
Overhead always the patrol.
Made a bedroom of the cabin room. Thinking of Emilee. Pinned up the Avalokitsevara.
Gold box, gold pillow cases, new cream-colored sheets. Washed the floor
and then the windows, buckets of water flung from outside. Late afternoon
blast of sun through the big west window.
Yesterday I wanted to post a little piece about dove weed and went out
in late golden light and took some photos. Have posted a close-up showing
sharp bristles and an out of focus yellow depth underneath. That
was after I'd been reading on the couch. Ate a peach, suddenly saw the peach
skins on the pewter saucer lit sideways from the window. Went for the camera,
I'll try. Then the photos more beautiful than what I'd seen, more colored reflection
on the table behind the plate. Posted it and doted on it the rest of the
evening. Also put up The air with collected bits about scent, sound,
temperature, light, and death.
The sunflower photo with yellow lines - it satisfies me
as a way of showing and liking that lower stretch of Mesa Grande Rd as it
It has been hot today. Clouds building themselves these days always toward
the southeast, is it where hot air rises over the steep rim of the desert?
At this moment a mile-high pile touched pink at its upper rim and to the
left of it the white moon a day or two from full. Some of the mass has softened
but there's a whiter column still boiling up hard and tight. There's mild
lightning in the pile. Such a lot happening and this is like a theatre seat
at a wide-screen movie.
This morning a young coyote lingering unfrightened on the rock wall next
to the house.
I'm in love with my photos for a couple of days after I post them. 1.
This one now, the sunflowers. The complex overcast above them, the way the
yellow burns in a tawny light. The wedges either side, the fencelines on
the left, road stripes and phone line on the right. All that rumpled flourishing
in the center between two simplicities.
2. Then roadside cut bank. It's perfectly balanced and focused. A lot
of color, a lot of subtle form in the stone, a couple of white lines, parallel.
It has a classic stasis, even a kind of drama, the one green twig at the
foot of a darker streak. A dry root emerging out of a hole, feeling its
way downward across the wall's rough face. The small heaps of sand that
have trickled down. The image has a visual foot in those small heaps and
a slice of gritty road.
3. Then oh peach skins like an offering of light rather than food.
4. Ant seeds grain perfectly sorted, grit and dark red buckwheat
seeds spread outward from a round ant-door. It's an elegant abstraction.
The inner grey form too is a ghostly or fetal little creature with a round
5. Dove weed isn't anything special as a photo but it does show the plant
at its best, because of the strong side-lighting. The gold background does
6. Black Canyon Road shows land where they'd expect sky, and that land
is a different kind than in the foreground. The line of a distant road
relates itself to the line of the foreground slope. There's a hit of rich
mixed color one sees first, and then the fineness of detail of the slopes
in the distance.
Democratic Convention's second day.
Michelle's speech yesterday. She was shown mostly from the ribs up behind
a podium, sometimes full length from behind. She was wearing a wonderful
dress, a sort of shimmering orange, cut deep into the shoulders to show
her perfect smooth-skinned strong shining arms. From behind the dress showed
a full skirt. It was a party dress. The goldy-orange shimmer reminded me
of my graduation dress, that I'd designed myself and sewn myself and didn't
know was more beautiful than the other girls' store-bought pastels.
Anyway, Michelle, another scholarship girl. Her speech has been very
praised today but I saw that she was smiling too much, she was cornered
in a task she couldn't execute as she would have preferred, with the naturalness
she had beside Barack on Oprah for instance. But she stands as a star of
the embodiment party. She's tall. She's not thin. Someone on Youtube was
sneering that she crosses her legs at the knee not at the ankle like a well-bred
Republican woman. Her flaring integrity is body-integrity, as is Barack's.
She nearly always shows skin. She hugs. She didn't hesitate to put her arm
around the Queen. She advocates for the body arts of gardening, exercise
and clean food, which is to say she advocates for human beauty. She wears
a lot of color, she understands that as the mother of a nation she has to
signal motherly devotion, and she does that with conviction, but at the
same time she can stand on any platform and speak without notes for an hour:
she's a lawyer. She hasn't had to abandon her family, she has taken them
with her. She has the huge fortune of respecting her husband and enjoying
him. He is a sexy playful powerful man with a clean conscience, that rarest
thing. She's not sure she isn't better than him, which means she lives in
a slightly false position, but there's no question that given the time she's
in she can do more with him than without him.
Is Barack's kiddish lightness of spirit going to defeat all the good
he wants to do, when he's up against a ponderous bull of a father? Romney
Bill Clinton speaking. His voice immediately holds. His outline is perfectly
coherent and relevant. From it he speaks with easy manly authority. Natural
manliness. He's giving facts and figures. He's addressing everything that
needs addressing. He signals his points personally. "Are you listening?"
His pacing is perfect, he's lucid. He's thin, he's pale, he's wearing out,
his heart is going to go one day soon.
"Here's what really happened."
"You all need to listen to this carefully, it's important."
They cheer, he reins them back. "You're having a good time. This
is serious, I want you to listen."
"Folks this is serious, because it gets worse."
"WE CAN'T LET IT HAPPEN."
"Now wait a moment." "Here's what really happened."
For O it's as if a father steps in with powerful defense, as if god is
backing him with omniscient benevolence.
It's very, very good theatre in a land of hungry sons.
I'm in a tizzy this morning wanting to talk about the election and having
no one to talk to.
A middle-sized animal sitting motionless in the patch of unmown grass
where I scatter peelings. Can't see it well. Fetch the binocs. Yes it's
a bobcat. Handsome. It gets up and strolls away downhill as if it has felt
Last night a bit before bedtime I went out and got into the sleeping
bag, which is flannel-lined and very cozy. Lay on my back in the quiet din
of crickets, under black branches and many sharp white points of light.
There'd be a momentary blast of breeze, whose preemptory touch I love. I
faded sweetly, woke later, when the waning chunk of moon came glaring cheese
orange over the trees to the northeast. Got up and came inside barefoot
on the patio stone feeling it had been perfect sleep. Northing hurt. It
This morning have been doing small edits on the later Here texts.
I like the writing but it doesn't seem like mine. A slight sensation of
oh is that what I'm like now.
Have a sore heart about Tom having no phone minutes and no money and
now no time to visit me. Restless, hungry, keep checking email.
The unnervous coyote who ambled past on the road yesterday when I was
working on the outside bed had the slightly comic dished long snout of Wily
Under the restlessness there's anguish of abandonment.
Since the rain yesterday there's a scent in the air I keep wanting more
of - it's like an edge - it's a spice - I feel it as a sharpness - wet leaves
maybe? Rotting wood.
On the way back from SY I stopped four times to take photos of datura
flowers, which are unusually thick along the lower stretch of Mesa Grande
Rd just now. The last stop had a fresher fuller plant and I sat down on
some prickly weed to get closer with the macro lens. Now I'm doing what
I do, gazing at the photo I posted full of satisfaction. I have the flower's
quilted circle but also a bud furled like a cigar with pixie curls, a
couple of other stages of buds, the one next to the flower a perfect tumescent
little penis, and very fine-cut leaves arrayed, all telling the story of
how it comes to be. Corners correctly anchored. Focus as it happens just
right to set the plant's shapes into deep 3-d. I gaze in marvel because
the photo is better than what I saw. The eye goes back and forth between
the strange, green-brown, elfish, tight-wound bud-cigar and what it becomes,
the soft spread target of the flower, and then around it, too, five other
fat pointing little boys. Filtered overcast makes all of it seem quietly
and oh so clearly alive. Look at it!
Last night I lay down outside under a thinly misted sky through which
I could just about see brighter stars. The whole of it would sometimes flicker
with weak sheet lightening, pink. Fell asleep. When I woke the sky was brilliantly
black and clear. There were strong cool blasts of air. I loved lying there
beneath it all, loved it in some simple thought-less way, didn't want to
Perhaps this book will be understood only by
someone who has himself already had the thoughts expressed in it, or at
least similar thoughts. - So it is not a textbook. - Its purpose would be
achieved if it gave pleasure to one person who read and understood it.
Greg sent it. Tractatus.
I lie down in the outside bed padded in flannel and look up at those
intense white points through the massive black branches of the oak - three
of them, one reaching forward above me. Last night there were quite strong
blasts of wind. The openness seems lively to me. Is there any other way
to say it. I love lying in the lively openness of moving air, at the bottom
of a black sea. I fade out but don't sleep well. Don't want to go in. Wake
at 2:30, wide awake. Am still awake at 4:30. Making tea, thinking about
a workshop on plants and the senses.
I've been grabbed by the story of Romney being outed by a video captured
in secret, sneering that the 47% who don't pay federal taxes all vote for
Obama because they think of themselves as victims and want to be dependent,
and the Democrats cynically create dependency because that is their voting
base. He says he can't make them care about their lives. There's nothing
ambiguous: that's what he says. Why am I so grabbed. Tom said it's seeing
someone unmasked, and I suppose seeing others seeing him unmasked. This
election is so clearly a choice between fundamentally different ways of
being a person that I'm in high tension about it. Is the world going to
go backward? Will intelligence win, or will dissociation. Will people prefer
to be represented by someone like them, or by someone better than them.
Will their desire not to feel their insufficiency be stronger than their
desire to feel their possibility.
The quiet sound of running water is bringing birds.
There are names for every part of the bird. Having seen them labeled
helps me see the whole subtle fit of their costume and for instance that
this California towhee is not the one that was splashing yesterday because
its throat stripes are darker.
House of spiders, terrace of birds. Quiet ticking of water.
The complex grey sound of sudden flight. Grey because it's feathers beating
They have the cover of the toyon above their little spring. Slim little
mountain chickadee jumping down from a branch.
It's clearly the woodpeckers' desmesne, so well laid out for their pleasure.
This oak, the oaks across the road, the locusts. They are back and forth,
with a stop balancing on the wire to survey in the clear.
I'm sweet on the oak titmouse because of her little crest and the subtle
evenness of her grey.
The woodpeckers are so fast and flashy with their white and black opening
and closing. What does their red cap remind me of - the cap-shaped velvet
of a ripe thimbleberry. They are great fussers. Their squawk is a grating
Tiny lizard running up the handle of the shovel.
When the wind comes up the clustered seed pod husks on the locusts clack
Something about the movement of air, just that. It somehow thrills me,
at night when I'm lying here, and now in dry daylight too.
There's the hawk yelling.
The water has brought what has turned out to be a California sister.
Rabbit, on the rock rim, same color as the stones, taking a long drink.
I so dislike the squirrels though their tails are pretty. I don't like
the way they move. They are craven little hustlers.
Two of what may have been Mexican jays? Long blue birds, almost pure
blue, lit at the driveway tap but didn't drink.
I look around on this sort of afternoon and say there'll be a day when
I'm not here anymore and am remembering it.
Last night after reading in Raw forming the letters to Mary protesting
her protests about sex, and then the terrible summer visit, I was in distress
again, dim distress feeling how I'd carried on in dim pain over the great
loss of my mother's blessing. I'd lived from the age of 2 without touch
and now she was wanting to keep it away from me still unless I somehow consented
to the catastrophe she had consented to. From that young woman's point of
view it's hideous of my mother, blind, blank and in a way hateful. I was
claiming my sexual well-being, which was a larger well-being because it
ended other kinds of desperation - eating binges, random lonely efforts
with men, diffidence, clumsiness, kinds of manic falsity - and she in whatever
unconscious rivalry it was - was it that? wanted to deny me it. Refused
to go on admiring me, showed that she didn't care about me really. And my
dad, was he so nuts that visit because I had a sexual shine? Was that why
he shot the puppy? My patched bluejeans signified my nonvirginity? All of
it subliminal? His worry about the neighbours what they might guess about
him? Did she have a sense of that? So my family shut me out for being sexual
and I didn't exactly understand what had happened. I had crossed the line
and I kept going, but I had lost something, had I, that I didn't know was
When I woke this morning I wanted to say something about the heat in
Borrego. I stood against the wall of Kendall's after breakfast waiting for
Em feeling the thickness of the air, a weight of light, an actual pressure.
September eleven o'clock.
Meantime birds at the little rock bowl all day long, and sometimes at
the feeder I've stabilized with a stone. Towhees always, standing on the
overspill rock on their little twig legs, dipping their heads, tilting up
the rusty spot under their tails.
- Tom was here for 17 hours and I liked him -
- He looked interesting with his fine silver hair growing out.
- He marveled satisfyingly.
- He talked a lot but he was interesting. I like his unusual words.
- His energy charmed me. I lay back into it.
- He swept the patio assiduously.
- He is happy in his growing kingdom.
- He agreed when I said his other women couldn't handle him.
- He's been called to attention when I said I'd prefer not to but I might
need to find another boyfriend.
Notes from Peter Dyck and Jam, Jam pathologically cryptic in her way,
which feels as though her willed stylishness is more important to her than
meeting me in language that knows me. That seems miserly of her, but she
did say two generous things.
What it is to have known people when they were vital. We've banked our
young selves in their memory. Who we chose unwittingly to do that. It's
as if there's a stretch of time in which people are their best, or real,
and only in that stretch of time are they worth knowing.
It was the universe of power. It was the network,
field, and lines of the energies of all beings, stars and galaxies of stars,
worlds, animals, minds, nerves, dust. The lace and foam of vibration that
is being itself, all interconnected, every part part of another part and
the whole part of each part, and so comprehensible to itself only as a whole,
boundless and unclosed.
Foam, and the scintillation of mica in rock,
the flicker and sparkle of waves and dust, the working of the great broadcloth
looms, and all dancing, have reflected the hawk's vision for a moment to
my mind; and indeed everything would do so, if my mind were clear and strong
The dead and the unborn ... the images of dream
and vision, all wild creatures, the waves of the sea, the sun, and all the
other stars, were to be part of that dancing. So the earthly, mortal, human
dancers invited that part of their own being which was before, and would
be after their earthly life; their soul, or their souls. Not the spirit,
the essence of individuality, or not only the spirit, for individuality
is mortality; but also the breath soul, that which is shared with, takes
form, gives back to the wholeness of being; and the self that is beyond
seeing the world as they see it, with the sun's
eyes, that see only light
I'm a member of the Serpentine it seems - the house of wild plants and
of the book art, N-S-E-W and green, stones. I'm Again of the Serpentine.
This morning Long Snout the coyote loped across the lower yard east to
west toward the pines, hesitating at the compost ground. Then came another,
larger, in the long grass beyond the fence moving by a parallel track. When
both were gone another, younger, running where the first had been.
They had no god; they had no gods; they had
no faith. What they appear to have had is a working metaphor.
It's near full moon. I went to bed too early and woke at 2. Went out
to sit in the chair. Pulled it forward out of the oak's shadow. Great pale
sky with a few bright points. Orion lying on its left side in the east.
Crickets banked along the western windbreak edge. The stand of three younger
pines a harp sounding continuously. Behind me the warm wide house gently
Is it bad of me to say I haven't been worth knowing since my early 50s.
Do I mean it hasn't been worth being me since then. This time of life is
and will be so much about registering failure.
And yet there is the lamp and here is this floating music. The metal
lamp base lit downward under its brown-paper shade, Space hotel's
soft drum beats in which I can hear a palm. Its ripples and long-standing
It's been worth knowing what I know, would be for anyone, there's that.
I've made that of myself but I don't have much presence. My young self would
be disappointed. There I look up and see the lines made by my little notebooks'
elastic and its shadow. It goes like this: [sketch]. It means that when
I was young my conscious self departed from its unconscious companion and
then the unconscious self crossed into consciousness and now lies parallel
and a bit forward. I like the way the two lines begin together and then
disappear together into a little hole in the cover.
I'm working on the outside bed - something caught my eye - a long, thin,
ragged, eccentric-looking individual in grey clothes - hello! - it's half
a moment before I remember his name - there's a long tail he keeps lifting
and setting down alertly, as if it's a sensing apparatus, and a ragged crest
fallen to one side. Road runner.
Tom and I were here on the bed in fading light when a rabbit came hesitating
down the steps. Crossed to the fountain. Jumped onto the rim. Bent stone-colored
in the notch between stones and drank. We watched in silence. We felt moved
to be giving hospitality.
The air is active today. Hot wind from the east knocking acorn caps and
failed acorns onto my legs.
Obsequious little nuthatch so clean-looking in its blue-ish white and
You write that one evening you were sitting in my chair reading Descartes,
and I asked you if you would like to stay for the night, and you decided
you would. This would have been my absolute peak fantasy in the preceding
years: to find a smart girl who read philosophy and who wanted to
spend the night.
A commotion of turkeys on the terrace, some drinking, some digging energetically
in deep leaves. I could creep up to the window and stare at their extraordinary
tarnished bronze attire - layered, shingled, folded, banded, spotted, iridescent,
more elegantly detailed and fitted than any human-made thing can be.
[Hade written my grade 9 teacher a letter]
- You took kind interest in an unpopular 14 year old who didn't fit in.
- You were frank and funny.
- You were a Mennonite who wasn't mean or dumb.
- You could blaze up - I liked that. There was some wicked spark.
- You were interested in language and liked to play with it.
- You walked me home from my grade 12 grad when I was setting out unpraised
on my own.
- We were friends, I felt, and I needed friends.
- - You see how when you're good to someone young it sticks forever.
We both took it back to high school though we knew each other
later, because that was when it mattered.
His reply said he had a tear, and I'd had one as I scribbled the last
It had come to me to tell him how I remember him and there it all was
as if woven into my floor - not a good way to say it - I mean part of my
core, which is the self I was then, sweet and eager.
I was naïve and not well educated when I came to La Glace. I
wasn't even much older than some of my students, hence terrified of showing
my lack of knowledge.
When I was 14 I didn't know that he was young, that he was one young
creature looking at another, and that I was company to him too, in his own
There's no way I can show him as I saw him, an electric redhead, a body,
though we never really saw the bodies of men in suits and ties - he wore
a cream-colored sports jacket that smelled of cigarettes and some kind of
baggy grey slacks - but he moved with energy, he was real in the classroom,
he felt and cared, and he liked me. He was sarcastic, touchy sometimes,
funny - I can see, can almost see, his amusement, the way it widened his
upper lip so his tongue showed a bit voluptuously.
How did a spider get into my belly button?
The ants of later summer are much smaller - tiny - and there are fewer
of them though they swarm the flowerpots from their little caravans.
The goal of spirit knowing itself as spirit,
has for its way the recollection of spirits.
wild, bold, unprecedented book
The realm of shadows, the world of the simple
The sojourn and the work in this realm of shadows
is the education and discipline of consciousness. Here it pursues tasks
remote from sensuous intuitions and aims the exclusions of the accidental
nature of argumentative thinking and the arbitrary business of allowing
these or rather the opposite reasons to occur to one and prevail.
- But what he makes of this - I'd take it as psychological but he as
metaphysical, it seems.
central purpose is to demonstrate the inadequacy,
the one-sidedness, the abstractness of our categories.
I finally remark that this science, like grammar,
appears in two different perspectives or values. It is one thing for those
who first approach it and the sciences, and quite another for those who
return to it from them. Whoever, on the other hand, masters a language,
and at the same time knows other languages with which to compare it, will
find that the spirit and culture of a people reveal themselves to him in
the grammar of its language. Through the grammar he can recognize the expression
of the spirit, the logic. It is only out of the deeper knowledge of the
other sciences that logic rises for the subjective spirit as something that
is not merely general in an abstract way but as the general which includes
the riches of the particular ...
quiet but profound minds who absorbed the new
philosophy with lasting seriousness and then proceeded from it gradually
to cultivate particular fields of scholarship.
Reading Kaufmann on Hegel absorbed.
Some vague idea of a Hegel movie.
All day long a quiet tapping - sometimes very quiet - as if of elfish
repairs. Many tones.
5:30 in the dark - not a crack of dawn yet - Yo Yo Ma playing Bach.
Odd photo from this morning. Early light was white on the oak trunk.
I went in for the camera. So here is the oak trunk with white light on grey
heavily cracked bark, black shadow behind, a curved edge, but the black
also is a screen showing through to bright blue. The odd thing is my little
shadow standing in the corner as if on a separate layer, with a branchy oval shadow floating
above my head - happening to be there - I didn't see it, but it's like a
branching cloud of thought or blessing - it belongs with the triangularity
of the robe - was wearing the black dress because it was cold.
So the little foreground figure stands outside the frame taking the picture,
and has spread above her an ambiguous form that seems part of her outside
space and also a shadow thrown by the oak. - And then high above both figure
and halo, just at the top of the frame there are fresh oak leaves in close
foreground, part of the tree though we don't see the branch that bears them.
There is even a green acorn. On the ground next to the little figure a dead
stick that is in a completely different scale. The cloud-thought-halo-shadow
too is in exact position to diagram the roots of the pine tree above it.
altogether it seems to signify more than I know, mysteriously.
Standards for photos - coherent complexity.
Bushtits are like charming little round children dashing about together,
piling onto the basin rim together, swerving away suddenly. The little
grey whirr when they jump away into the air. I'm thinking of turn
but a stone and start a wing.
- I'm wanting a movie camera to fix on the basin for a long while. Starring
towhee, bushtit, junco, titmouse, nuthatch, chickadee.
Conception of a film as creation of subtle kinds of good company, a sort
of fictional enterprise. What would the goodness of company need. Awareness
of the attentions engaged. A mutual interest well presented. A mythic catch
to engage the uncon. - What are birds coming to drink at a human-made but
natural pool? Water of life. Do I dare spend $4000? Hegel on the track,
some dark passage.
Something jumping around in the toyon continuously declaring in a grating
dry voice - slim little brown bird with a long tail. Very nervous, wouldn't
let me look.
Somehow behind anything I do in film now a presumption of the immaterial
It jumps around in the branches. I can see it opening its beak among
Angelo was pouring his driveway this morning, three big yellow concrete
trucks. Late this afternoon when I'd been sweeping the patio and bringing
in the bedding on account of rain he came up the road with a bottle of cab
asking if I have a corkscrew. He'd been hit by grief after the pour, wanted
a glass of wine. I said, Come in, sit here because it's my only chair.
The wine was velvety.
When he was going home I got the flashlight and walked him to the bottom
of his new road. It was very dark - overcast. I shone the flashlight up
alongside the concrete he can't walk on yet, so he could pick his way uphill
to his little house through rocks and piles of dirt. As I stood there moving
the beam to stay ahead of him streamers of cloud flowed up from behind me
and muddled the light so I could no longer see him.
Warm Monday morning. Hammering at Angelo's. Flock of small birds on the
wires. I'm writing in the chair. There goes David to the casino. Workers
at the cabin, voices. The farthest rim of mountains pale blue. Broad quiet
peace. A lizard on the stump. It's just standing there looking, jacked up
on its front legs.
There three pines sounded for a moment and are silent again, and there
the oak above me. Light wind from the east. The oaks are looking fresh and
I was awake in the dark and took my tea to the chair - winter coat -
and saw the light come up. Morning star high. Pink flush in the empyrean.
There is no word for the boundless absorbent depth of cloudless sky. Rabbits
were grazing, cows were moving west along the fenceline, big dumb masses
heaving themselves down into the gully and standing to stare at me though
there was nothing to see.
I was lying in bed this morning feeling the dearness to me of things
I remember - Catherine's sweet old-fashioned English little smile, Ida in
her Welsh byre, things that are gone forever, except - there went a little
fox on the road, grey above, red below - that I have a bit of them in me.
The windbreak trees are incense cedars, calocedrus decurrens. The wide-spreading
blue-ish tree at the top of the driveway is Arizona cypress, cupressus arizonica.
Wet, misty day. Delicious air. Looking at wet reddish leaf litter underfoot
I thought of Saturna.
Four this morning again. Tea. Feet up on the desk. Argerich and Maisty
Sonata #1, pellet stove blowing hard. I have this quite lovely thing on
the big monitor in front of me. Locust pods.
Then there's the slit photo, Oak slit, slit crossed by rusty
barbed wire. The flash went off though I didn't intend it to and the result
is this exquisite sharp focus and greeny sheen on a young vulva surrounded
by rough bark. Perfectly composed and eloquent and no more to be said about
There's the one of the house from the field, fog down to the level of
the beginning of the forest. It's a quiet picture. Pines below Angel Mountain.
It's a quiet picture that makes me want to live here till I die.
Wet cypress has an odd mystic glow, which must be the
silveriness caught in mist. The way shallow depth of field makes the branches
jut forward out of darkness is marvelous. It's an ugly picture somehow but
perfect as a photo. Ugly how. I don't like the silver and yellow together,
which makes me unappreciate the plant although I can see it is a mode of
fairy princess, maybe one of an inimical race.
fence is okay. What did I like about Cut curve. It's simple
but has touches - the bit of bright cloud that holds onto the upper end
of the road's curve. The way one arc, the road, cuts into another, the hill.
The gradient of light in the sky, the brightest corner holding against the
bright bit of cloud in the lowest.
- Photographic values so much about subtlety, a bland photo very little
different from a good one.
My favorite this time is Pines below Angel Mountain where Angel
Mountain is invisible, and which shows a line of beings both on and below
a hill. Something like that.
Yesterday morning lying with Tom watching firelight to our left sides
and orange dawn brightening on our right. The night before, a big warm body
shouting in my ear. Mr Fengler mod-ulate your voice, the nuns would
When we came down into the valley in the morning the wind was so strong
it was buffeting the jeep. Where we were parked at Dudley's waiting for
the bus we could see the row of eucalyptus all excited as SDG&E trucks
flowed eastward alongside them.
The evening before we'd sat together on the couch watching the pink darken
in the west, with just one pink candle burning on the mantle.
We'd had a fight first thing. I stopped to get gas and when I was just
about to shove in my credit card there was Tom pushing me out of the way.
This is man country, I pump the gas, he said. I didn't want to blaze
up at him then and there so I got out of the way but I felt sidelined, which
is a blanked, erased feeling. He had seized the wrong nozzle and was discovering
it was diesel because he couldn't get it in. Then he was angry. We drove
away. I was declaring things in my head. I knew why he'd done it. There
had been a couple of other men on the gas station forecourt and he hadn't
wanted to look wimpy. But it was my jeep and my credit card, and
I have earned the right to look like I'm the one who pumps the gas, etc,
and beyond that was a worry about his flaming up, does it mean he's back
We went on like that until somewhere near the mission and then he said
was I ready for a kiss. I said no, because I had some things to say. Said
them, and then we laughed, and then when we stopped at the gate I gave him
a kiss. My solar plex felt as if it were smiling.
At night when we were lying together on my bed before I sent him to his
bed on the floor I was spooning him and doing what I sometimes do, tuning
out what he's saying and just feeling the vibrations of his voice in his
back and my belly. When we were going to separate he turned in my arms,
four dry little kisses that turned me on.
These past days I sometimes see words in my dad's handwriting. Gate
and gas above.
One year today.
Yellow on the locusts and the sycamores.
Sunday late afternoon quiet. Bit of faint knocking. A fly.
Sky bright blue behind me.
It's warm, mild, but the light seems thinner on the pale grass and on
the bright green cedars.
My ears aren't buzzing. There's immaculate quiet in which I can hear
the faintest breath of leaves.
Looking at last fall's photos seeing that last year's beauties aren't
Sweetest peace though haunted by worries about Luke.
What does sweet peace feel like. As if the chest is open to the air.
As if I could go on just sitting.
Two bright pink things way across the yard. Are they plastic? I go see.
They're naked ladies! 5 or 6 flowers on a bare stem, two stems near
each other. Scented.
13 turkeys hurrying toward Norm's pond, it seems. Don't have beards.
20 more, also hurrying, also beardless, both groups this year's hatch I
The very large old oak near the ravine on the east - one that lost a
huge heavy branch - is covered with green acorns. The other old one next
to it is not.
Now the row of cedars in the east is throwing its broad shadow across
me and past, almost to the far side of the yard.