A few of my favorite things

It’s getting to be ludicrous how lax I’ve been as a blogger, so I won’t even bother apologizing but will just skip right on by. Because  the year is late and time is short but there’s always much to be thankful for:

  • Journals whose new issues include my poems, to my everlasting gratitude and delight:
  • Homemade mascarpone, for which I have no photo, but I promise you is rich lovely velvet and divine on pumpkin bread.
  • Big fat novels like In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helprin (I’ve read, loved, & what’s more own every book he’s written) and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
  • Late fall days, made for sinking into the couch with hot sweet and creamy tea and one of those good books. Distract the kids with a Can You See What I See? book and you’ll have some time to yourself for your own reading.
  • Poetry: Braiding the Storm by Laura Davis, Mother Desert by Jo Sarzotti, Afterworld by Christine Garren…
  • My mother’s old wooden rolling pin. This week alone I’ve used it for making apple pie and Christmas ornaments with the boys. A well-used and well-loved hand-me-down.

In the failing afternoon light we hunted up more candles — the nubs of old tapers and half-spent Christmas pillars. As I warmed up some canned soup on the stove I was reminded how my father would cook chestnuts and popcorn on its top. “Dad would have enjoyed this,” I said softly to the air as I stirred the pot, and I saw the pain of remembrance flicker across my mother’s face. I don’t know if silence or remembrance is best, but I was longing to press a hurt simply to remind myself it was there.

— from “Storm,” in Five Thousand Days Like This One, by Jane Brox

  • You, if you’re still here, and even if you’re not. Thanks for thinking of me every now and again.

Taste of Summer

There are some books, some poets, that I instinctively associate with winter — Leslie Harrison’s Displacement, Frost, all the Russians (accurate or not) — but who do you think of as a summer poet? Lyrical, fulsome, hot… give me some recommendations. I’m in a mood.

Life is bursting at the seams here. In addition to the day-to-day work of work and parenting, I’ve been a madwoman of creativity.

In the kitchen.

In the last week I’ve baked Portuguese sweet bread, chocolate drop cookies, cinnamon-swirled brioche loaves, and strawberry jam.

And I’ve written exactly one and a half lines of poetry.

Cooking fits well into the balancing act, especially baking — outside of the mixing, so much of it is passive, letting the oven do all the work while keeping an eye on the time — but the still center I need to write is harder to come by these days.

Yet, at last, the high tide of grief has begun to ebb. Has bowed and taken its place several steps behind the new ruler of the household. I felt so overwrought through most of my pregnancy, so bereft, I couldn’t imagine…

The boys resemble their dad — the brow line, their cute button noses — and so does Georgia, though her  look is softer and clearly feminine.

But her long fingers, with their perfect little fingernails — her hands are an inheritance from my mother.

The poems will come, as will sleep, and normalcy (of a kind).

But this, this is fleeting. In the face of such spectacular vulnerability and need, this being that I created cell by cell, how can I feel anything but blessed.

The Lovely Marriott Wardman Park

I had a movie moment at 7:07 this morning, running to catch my train that was due to depart at 7:10 am. We New Englanders are accustomed to driving in the snow, but even so, it took a loooong time to drive a not-that-far distance… I’ll leave it at that, we’ve all got our traveling scars this year! I did catch my train, and I made it to DC, and my lovely lovely hotel room. With any luck, I’ll post more pictures tomorrow. Let the wild rumpus begin!

A Life of Plenty

Gennady Privedentsev, “Still life with horn of plenty”


Spell to Be Said upon Waking

Trout’s maculate body,
delible house of the wasps’ nests,
white face of the horse —

Draw close.
A shadow closes your foxgrass,
lichens your boulders.

Cloudy the vow of the leaf in the water.

Lion, where is your hunger?
Come tortoise, come river, eat.

Desire, walk easily now through the wild net
of birchwood in rain,
on mountain-back carry the brindled immeasurable day.

— Jane Hirshfield, from The Lives of the Heart (HarperPerennial, 1997)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturdays are the golden brown…

…of the pancakes I made the boys this morning, of Vincent’s shorn hair cascading to the floor as I gave him a trim, and the Indian pudding cooking in its water bath in the oven.

The recipe I’m using is from an ancient edition of Fannie Farmer — who knew there were so many variations! I was just looking for something that uses what I already have in my pantry — and yes, I had molasses and corn meal in my pantry, thanks to Marianne, who cleaned out her pantry before moving across country with her family this summer.

I’ve never done the water bath thing before — I don’t actually have the proper cookware for that, so I’m improvising, as usual. We purchase most of our cookware from Goodwill etc, and for some reason, ramekins and casserole dishes don’t show up for sale there too often.

Tomorrow I’ll bring my Indian pudding, hopefully as delicious as it is golden, to Vermont with me: my friends and I are putting the finishing touches on the schedule for the 2011 season of the Collected Poets Series! And the finishing touch the pudding needs is vanilla ice cream. Or whipped cream. Or both. I’m in favor of both.

Happy last weekends of summer!

What’s Sacred.

Laura Didyk, over on her blog, Outloud, talks about a project conceived by her and a friend: In the Eyes of Everyone: A Project for Everyday Visionaries.  The website won’t launch until 2010, but you can go here to read more about it.

In association with that project, Laura has issued a creative assignment: Take three pictures: 1) something historical, 2) something tasty, 3) something sacred.

Technically, these pictures are for the future launch of In the Eyes of Everyone, but I hope Laura won’t mind if I post them here as well.  In the meantime, go to Outloud, read more about In the Eyes of Everyone, and then go take some pictures of your own to send to Laura — it’s fun!

#1. Something Historical:

The Glacial Potholes.

#2. Something Tasty:

Doughnuts. Home-made by ME. Dairy-free, made with coconut milk. Baked in the oven, rolled in cinnamon sugar.

This description is not strictly by the books in regards to the assignment, but seeing as I’ve been playing with yeast doughs this week and baked my very first loaf of bread, which sucked, sad slab o’ dough, and then my second, which, while imperfect, rocked, and then these marvels above, well, I felt the need to crow.

#3. Something Sacred:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do You Realize There Are Only 7 Weeks Left to the Year?

Egads, where has the time went?! There’s micro-time, this week, wherein:

  1. I drove to North Adams for a meeting,
  2. have my reading tonight with Kim Rogers at the Green Street Café (which I am so excited about; that and the dinner provided — Green St. has an excellent menu!),
  3. and tomorrow afternoon I’m visiting, in my capacity as local poet, a classroom of first-graders at the Smith College Campus School.

Add that to all my regular doings & whatnot with the boys, and that’s a pretty action-packed week for me.  The last item is of special note — I’m not altogether confident of being able to keep one 7 yr old’s interest, never mind a roomful of them.  I’m going to read them two poems from Hunger All Inside, “All Souls'” and “Night Visits”, and we’ll talk about Halloween and what a metaphor is.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

And, as if the reading tonight weren’t event enough, yesterday was Lance’s birthday.  He’s coming with me tonight, and our dinner will be our first without the kids since Aidan was born.  Our first night out together, alone.

Which brings me to macro-time, this year, which is almost over!  Too soon to start enumerating blessings etc., but oy! This year has slipped by me as sneakily as Vincent hiding a bread knife (a.k.a. his “sharp sword” which he needs to fight the “bad witches”) behind his back.  That Thanksgiving is a mere 2 weeks away, and you-know-what soon after, doesn’t even bear thinking about. Oy.