Monday, September 28, 2009

In Red Brick Small Towns

Last week Matthew and I made a makeshift song in his living room on a
quiet street in Lewisburg Pennsylvania. The song, a study in 8 channels of perfection, rides on the simple brilliance of an old Donovan song about the colors which we love best, the colors which attach themselves to objects and run through our minds like old songs which cannot be erased. Our song was an experiment with nature and our life set to the games of language or an experiment with language and song set to nature and our life in it. And though it will not stand up as an absolutely creative way of making value, right then it was all wonder and color and experiment which is what life is when it is fun.

Matt and Olivia are becoming old friends who organize our lives around their visits or when we visit them. We schedule our own festivals and fill them with rituals. It sounds bizarre. But what we do is have intense discussions about creating joy or scraping our lives like open wounds. We listen to recordings of poets reading their poems and go to restaurants in order to review them according to what they do. We go to small town art museums to find new ways to experience the way objects find meaning. We hike after waterfalls like small children chasing soap bubbles and try hard to imagine that what we are doing is an adventure. And we are proud when one of us runs 26.2 miles so fast!

On our holidays the world fades a little, and for a few days what rises are late night documentaries and morning coffees which stand as the only things which matter. We sit perfectly still like bright fruit in a world without fruit bats and enjoy ourselves enormously. We even fight like sullen raccoons, hackles rising, only to realize that the problems we see are only chances and what matters are the possible endings of the marathons and not their epic beginnings which are never true. If we think about it long enough we realize that when you hold a black paper up to the sun it will “glisten in its minutest points with the most vivid colors” just like Goethe said (and the sun which is friendship in this bad metaphor will be filled with new magic).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eve and Eden are Growing Up

Here are some pictures of Eve and Eden in their little apartment in Queens where they live with their parents -- filling their lives with joy and noise. We walked with them to the Asian market for bubble tea, cooing Chinese grandpas and pointing at wriggling fish. They cried as we left, a visit far too short.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Up On Mt. Rainier Like Explorers

We spent the night in the shadow of Cougar Rock watching the camp fires of other tribes and talking until we were dizzy. In the morning the sound of Chinese children yelling like bells as their father watched impassively from his position next to the out-houses drew us out of our sleeping bags and into the clear bright light. Granola! And we were on our way up the mountain standing like a god before us and not like a rear admiral’s last name.

The last weekend of bitter cold rain made me think that summer had drawn its curtains. Another veil rent! Mt. Rainier was clear and roaring still trying to shed its glaciers. We climbed as high as we could, explorers, noting the chipmunks and marmots until we found a deserted valley perfect for disappearing into ice caves or sudden rock burials. Nothing but weird clicking bugs buzzing through the thudding water and rocks and sky at 7000 feet.

As we turned the corner over the last ridge before the Muir Snowfield we saw the whole thing as a 7000 foot wall of white cracked open with blues and grays melting and shifting before our eyes. It was making its own weather and we were its followers. We followed it with sideways glances all the way down into the suburban blight which is Tacoma, listening to the crème de la crème of CCR as we slowly shot back into the relative safety of cell phone range.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Our Clear Space
If you walk out of the iron gate of our apartment building and look to the left down the long alleyway strewn with mattresses and broken toilets, you can see a quarter-inch of silvery lake framed down below. The tree there, from that scenic spot, has bright green weirdly spiny inedible fruits this time of year. It’s raining today, the end of summer, and that means the egg room at the Henry Art Gallery down the hill will have it’s cover on. I wonder if Jennifer will still feel like she’s “in the womb of the earth, like you could step right out of the ceiling into the universe” if she were to visit today. There is something about the sky seen through nothing but a frame that makes you want to stay and watch.
The Skyspace, Light Reign, also known as “the egg room” by Jennifer, was designed by the MacArthur Genius James Turrell (all the MacArthur Geniuses we know about are good people: Meredith Monk, Holmes Morton, Robert Hass, Trinh Minh-ha for example). “Turrell’s work is meant to be taken in slowly, quietly, and over time,” according to the Henry Gallery Website. And this is true. As Stanley Kunitz, put it, he can’t imagine trying to paint the sky when looking at it is so much better. When we went to the Henry the other night we kept going back into this room to look at how the sky had changed.
It rained today, cold hard rain conjured by the sea and the new season which gave our Seattle summer a number. We sat and watched it fall against the trees making them sway. Jennifer says Seattle is “just our speed.” I think she likes the way the girls with red hair at the record stores and Senor Moose tell her they want her new used shirt, she likes the way panther sightings close down the nearby parks, the giant trolls that live under the bridges, the way the rain makes the trees sway and give us space to breathe without realizing it. It’s a little like what Robert Hass describes in his poem, “The Problem of Describing Trees.”
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.
It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us . . .
Mountains, sky,
The aspen doing something in the wind.
Photos by Jen Graves and M.V. Jantzen