27 April 2006

if i had wings

i would fly away
and be at rest
i would wander far away
lodge in the wildnerness

i would hasten to my place of refuge

from the stormy wind and tempest

psalm 55

24 April 2006

Any morning this week or last

We are cheerfully vindictive. Ashley and Eva are sipping Earl Grey with raspberry syrup and I have my green tea. We are laughing at old stories and people we will miss. And not miss.

I will miss these mornings over breakfast, egg sandwiches, granola, pineapple and tea, even the edge of our cynicism. We feel beautifully alive and awake, but jaded, jaded, jaded, and laughing at everyone in the cafeteria, even ourselves. Reviewing poetry reading or proofing papers or pretending to do both but not really caring. Everything feels false and irrelevant and almost over.

We know everything these days—who we do and do not like, who we are and aren't—or maybe just who we were and who we don't want to become anymore. It is easy to glide at this point, forgetting that there is a face beneath my face, a self beneath my self, a reality beneath this reality, that awaits me in a few short weeks.

All the seams of my world are loose and I can hear the creak as it comes ondone, the snap of string drawn by the motion of my thoughts or the motion of others or the hand of God. Sometimes it makes me a little desperate.

I am scrawling lists across the back of my hands with serpentine script, unraveled letters, to reflect the state of my days – all loose ends and wash-away-ink-plans and not enough time, but far more time than I am going to have when I move home in a few weeks.

How long have I been viewing everything through a button hole? I think the buttons are about to pop, bursting off, and the fabric is about to fall away. The world outside is crawling with things I've never seen. And it's alive, alive, alive with ideas—new thoughts, new words, new voices. And work and car payments and rent and taxes and brown rice and spinach. Whatever it takes to not give up at all.

We're promised the world, aren't we?
We can do anything we want, can't we?

For the first time in my life I belong to no one and no one belongs to me and when the summer ends I can do whatever I can pay for.

Is that going to feel like freedom?
Does the world arch open on everyone this way?
By unraveling before their eyes?

19 April 2006

I woke up in the middle of August

We left Virginia in the dark, driving between quiet hills, sleeping with jackets on and the windows closed because the wind still whips hard and cold across the corn fields, cutting the glittering lake into a hundred pieces, blowing my skirt when I come out of chapel or out of class or walk to lunch, reminding me that I have elbows and knees and knuckles and cold fingertips. But I slept while Eva drove and didn't wake up until midsummer--Down, further, through the hills, under the hills, along the coast, between Carolina Pines and then Georgia Oaks, growing in the red clay, under the palms and magnolias, drooping under Spanish Moss. Full leafed, verdant, Florida. It will all be brown dust by true August, but it looked like everything I know of deep summer.

We took turns driving and sleeping. Read All the Kings Men when we got stuck in traffic. Warren's south unfolded from the pages, all around us. When we took a side road to find a post office, I was searching the sidewalk for Haze and his hideous hat, gazing down backwards wondering if the Misfit was positioned just out of sight in his black hearse. Because it was the real south, and Flannery O'Connor seemed obvious, not strange or violent or improbable. While Amy filled out her tax form on a small-town curb, Eva and I talked to an old man whose shop advertised "Dead People's Things For Sale."

And then on, to our own island, where we spent a couple days walking the beach and collecting sand dollars and climbing dunes and spreading sleeping bags on very hard earth beneath the Live Oaks and Cedars and Palms at our campsite.

And then to Daytona Beach... which was too much latex for any of us.


11 April 2006


Let's get to the edge of this uneasy quiet,
Hang bending at the end of a branch.
Can we sway long enough to finish
Subject-shifting and pocket-paper tearing?

There is time for you to study the edge of my skirt
and I, the tip of your shoe
--did you ever notice those scuff marks?
Or I, that loose thread?--

If we can creep softly enough
To the arching borders of this pause,
Perhaps in the silence we'll remember
What strangers we really are.

Wait for the breaking branch,
Dropping into regions beyond words.
In falling we'll unfold
And be known.

10 April 2006

09 April 2006

And what you thought you came for is only a shell, a husk of meaning (Fourth Quartet)

From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfillment.

Faith doesn't mean you have answers for anything. It is the cultivation of your sense of mystery. Because mystery contains the room for hope, hope that is bigger than any object, hope that is in a framework far larger than yourself.

Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity

(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and

All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Thank you to: Dr. Mitchell, David, Katie, Nathan, Matt, Jeff and Samantha... for adoping a lit major for the weekend.

I do not know much about gods; but i think that the river is a strong brown god (Third Quartet)

The river is within us, the sea is all about us...

And we've been on it, paddled to the sand bar, walked the beach, been chased back by a furious windstorm. Now it's time to light the fire and have more tea and read for hours longer as the rain comes down in torrents and the wind sweeps up leaves.

My mind is lost as we sit beneath our blankets, I am remembering so many recent nights...

Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
Whem time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning, Clangs
The bell.

You must go by the way of dispossession (Second Quartet)

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.

Morning and fog. This is the palate that I know: the greys and blues and smooth of the sea, and the wings of birds, their salt-air cries over sand dunes and wild roses, low sky, high water. Sitting close to the windows in the back room, close to the river, brackish water, stretching out into the sea. It begins to rain, wet against the window panes. We read poetry after breakfast. We say we'll talk for an hour, but none of us believe in watches—Faulkner says that clocks kill time—and we've gone well over.

In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

These are words for the knight of faith. And Matt makes excellent french press coffee -- best black.

Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? (First Quartet)

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence.

Cups of tea stacked up on old books, curling steam. We have turned out all the lights. Why are holy places dark places?

Samantha says the wind sounds like the Harpies, screaming along the corners of the house, and speaks of the dancer, at the still point of the turning world.

David says that England is covered by time, a beautiful and oppressive history, English pride and resentment, pressing down.

We agree that Love has no time – and Nathan mentions the Boethian Wheel, the Primum Mobile - Love is the centerpoint.

Katie talks about eternity, set in the hearts of men. We will always be longing, frustrated by the limitations of our lives and our words.

Like Derrida said, Matt reminds us, we're all watching words slide around eachother, clumsily.

And Dr. Mitchell quotes Plato – because music touches the soul of children – and prepares them to behold true beauty. There are children in this poem. Who are they? Who are we?

We play music for one another – Simon & Garfunkel, Addaggio for Strings, Over the Rhine, and Tu Se Morta - we've all chosen music for our objects of beauty.

And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation...

We are speaking exactly of this: that this moment in the dark is something we will never ever get down well enough for ourselves or for others to behold again fully. It exists only in memory and memory is fleeting. It is expressed only in words and words are too imprecise. Even as we sit here, in the dim borrowed house, creaking in our chairs, speaking in quiet voices, we are loosing everything we have to the tyranny of time.

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing dust on a bowl of rose-leaves

I do not know.

07 April 2006

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark...

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

T. S. Elliot
Here's to a weekend alongside the river god...

06 April 2006

The questions are real.

They never stop—like the steady summer rain falling outside my window. I’ve got Miles Davis on the stereo. It’s a “Kind Of Blue” kind of day, if you know what I mean. Some truth is waiting here to be collected, placed on my tongue like a wafer in communion, if only I could ask the right questions.

Who is Jesus?

What difference does it make in my day-to-day life?

Wouldn’t it be easier to be simply an artist and not, dear God, a Christian artist?

How are we to be peacemakers and not a doormat for the world?

How, and my own inner house ever be in order?

Will I ever not be swayed by the world and culture and our place in it?

Will I ever be able to clear my head of petty thoughts long enough to walk the war-torn, bloodstained streets of Belfast, for example, and feel more than that this is good song material?

This bothers me.

Why is it so hard to keep a relationship alive?

This bothers me.

Why do men and women fundamentally break each other’s hearts?

This bothers me too.

Humans are fallen, humans are ethereal. The world is corrupt, the world is beautiful. I hate you, I love you. I keep wishing the fundamentalists are right—that everything is cause and effect, black and white. But I stare up into the mystery, and it’s gray and thick like humid summer rain.

04 April 2006

irregulars amongst the regulars

Dec 2005
manufacturing our own mystery