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


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