Monday, April 27, 2009


"Although the wind..."
By Izumi Shikibu

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani

Although I've been quiet here, other places I've been not so quiet. Trying to listen and look and writing a lot. And trying to pay attention, even when there's bouncing from thing to event to moment. It is hot here after a cold spring. Why does the sudden, inevitable jump to heat wave catch us off guard? But that's not what I want to write about tonight. I've started other posts on other days. About process, about Lichtenstein. There's an exhibition of his sketches and collages, late stuff, at the museum where I work. It has me thinking about my writing process. Roy did stuff to shake up his process. He turned the canvas upside down. He cut and collaged brush strokes instead of painting them. So I was going to write about shake-ups. Then this afternoon my friend died. After fighting cancer for 4 years. She was young. With young kids. She was brave and determined. She liked to get to the heart of the matter.  She liked horses and skiing and books. Cancer is a sucky disease. That's all I can say.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Evening Prayers

I believe my sin
to be entirely common:
the request for help
masking request for favor
and the plea for pity
thinly veiled complaint.

So little at peace in the spring evening,
I pray for strength, for direction,
but I also ask to survive my illness
(the immediate one) -- never mind
anything in the future.
I make this a special point,
this unconcern for the future,
also the courage I will have acquired by then
to meet my suffering alone
but with heightened fortitude.

Tonight, in my unhappiness,
I wonder what qualities this presumes
in the one who listens.
And as the breeze stirs
the leaves of the little birch tree,
I construct a presence
wholly skeptical and wholly tender,
thus incapable of surprise.

I believe my sin is common, therefore
intended; I can feel
the leaves stir, sometimes
with words, sometimes without,
as though the highest form of pity
could be irony.

Bedtime, they whisper.
Time to begin lying.

-Louise Gluck