Making melodies out of the humdrum.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode to Mary

So, I have been reading a whole lot of Mary Oliver, lately. Out loud. I know it’s sort of weird, but I love reading everything out loud. It moves me more to hear it spoken, and if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I desperately want to be moved. So, before I close my eyes at night, I have given myself up to collections of poems like “Thirst” and “Redbird” longing for some kind of transformation; if not before my head hits the pillow, than at least in my dreams.

Now, I have never met Mary, but I picture her as this totally graceful, soft-spoken, flower of a lady who loves the things around her without hesitation. And really, that’s what her poems feel like to me, the greatest love songs to all the things in this life that lighten her load. Sometimes it’s a memory, or a red-bird, or her dog, Percy. No matter how simple her subject, the under-current of her words resound a great and even infinite, “yes!”

The funny thing is, I want to hush these poems to myself. Or sing these poems to myself. Or, if I had a baby to rock at night, I would lull her to sleep with them. For words that beget such exclamation, such a “yes!”, it would make more sense to scream a poem like "Redbird", but I think Mary does things differently.

She weaves the stuff of life together in such a way that simple truths, like regret and pebble beaches and springtime stand on their head and the acrobatic result is, well, her poem. It’s all perfect and at ease like a gymnast would be, and I wonder why I didn’t think of it like that, because surely, like all true things, it’s been there all along.

Thank you Mary, for showing me the things that have been there all along. And when I speak it aloud? It becomes more of the music that it frankly, already is. It's delightful. Perhaps all of this- this business of art and infinity and invention, is part of what you mean when you tell us to “go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.” After all, how could we not?

Monday, July 5, 2010

These Four Walls

Recently, my roommate and I moved to a new residence. There’s nothing quite like nesting afresh (in a good way) and nothing quite like moving in Central Texas heat at the end of June (in a bad way). It was a scorcher, but the day had an end and the new apartment was ours, so we did what we could to keep lifting the boxes. At the end of the day we sat on a hardwood floor, slurped some popsicles and drank Chardonnay like soda-pop. We drank and dreamt and talked about important things, but I’d like to think that the fluidness of that hour or two- the swish-swash of cooling off and settling in as best we could was the most important thing of all.

It seems that most people, including myself, make big deals of homecomings and housewarmings. Betty Crocker’s business. In part, I believe homemaking is a kind of christening. Gladly, I break such sacredness into the humdrum because it’s graceful to name the ways in which we belong. After all, good belonging, sounds and feels a lot like beloved- and really, what else is there? If I can say I’ve belonged to one or two or three beloveds and they’ve belonged to me, I think I would feel quite complete and quite…well, in love.

So this has got me to thinking: when we talk about homecoming, I want to already be home. Am I terribly impatient? I find myself scheming how it is I might nest all at once. Picture: Banana nut muffins baking, while the cable guy is doing his thing. In between batches, I’ll send out my change of address emails and swiffer the floor because the rug I ordered should be delivered any day now.

Or was it on backorder?

This hasn’t happened (yet), but I think it could. Such compulsion isn’t very cozy, but it happens to all of us in and on our own time, probably because waiting is sort of a bitch. And sometimes I think all good paintings, novles, songs…soul-food really is about the angst-old question of human-hood: “could this be home?” The redemptive part that keeps us reading and listening and looking (and from slitting our wrists) translates to: “well, let’s make it home for now.”

I don’t know if this angst is good or bad or healthy or unhealthy. Maybe it’s just plain dramatic. Drama queen or not, I feel almost-home-ness a lot, and the feeling is pretty real. I know that’ s sort of a paper-thin response. Sorry. Elusiveess helps me to hold things lightly- throw up my hands, and say things, like “it is what it is.” And at the end of the day- this is what it is: me and my friend, settling in just as best as we can; cross-legged, delirious and thankful for sweet popsicles and sweeter wine.