Thursday, December 26, 2013

"You shall love your crooked neighbour with your crooked heart."

As I Walked out One Evening
by W. H. Auden
As I walked out one evening,
        Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
        Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
        I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
        "Love has no ending.
"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
        Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
        And the salmon sing in the street.
"I'll love you till the ocean
        Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
        Like geese about the sky.
"The years shall run like rabbits
        For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages
        And the first love of the world."
But all the clocks in the city
        Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
        You cannot conquer Time.
"In the burrows of the Nightmare
        Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
        And coughs when you would kiss.
"In headaches and in worry
        Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
        To-morrow or to-day.
"Into many a green valley
        Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
        And the diver's brilliant bow.
"O plunge your hands in water,
        Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
        And wonder what you've missed.
"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
        The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
        A lane to the land of the dead.
"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
        And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer
        And Jill goes down on her back.
"O look, look in the mirror,
        O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
        Although you cannot bless.
"O stand, stand at the window
        As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
        With your crooked heart."
It was late, late in the evening,
        The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming
        And the deep river ran on.

This poem has made me "insane with love" to borrow a phrase from a long-ago journal of a long-ago Jonny Strange. It's stunningly depressing how preoccupied my mind is with aging lately. Guaranteed to make those little rabbits scamper even faster. I'm all about foreboding joy, but I am also beholding my little ones. Chai is so funny and sweet pounding on the drum I gave him for Christmas. I want to drink him in, his sweet smelling hair, his little "Hmms" for yes, his "Are ya comin' downstairs with me?" Sparrow stalked and toddled around the living room while we opened "sibling gifts" and felt all fancy with her jingle bell bracelet. She has warmed up to the Ogden folk but is still a huge sassy pants and stamps and shakes and howls all the time. We watched Emily's GOTH for my mother, a slideshow of all the pictures ever taken in all our lives. What a weird world, where I can still see the Peckerbeak shadow on the ceiling as I drift off in this ice cave. I asked Sparrow if she loved me and she nodded. I am so grateful for my sweet goons. For the work of listening with a kind heart. For having a social life, however humble. For having someone to dream sweet dreams about.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trying to bat cliches away from my face

I should have grappled with impermanence
In my adolescent brain,
instead, I fretted how to best break the good news.
I planted a tiny furtive garden
salting the soil with expectations of second chances.
Safe inside the confidence of a ceaseless spring,
I cradled my sweet fragile blossoms
and inhaled the scents of belonging,
of existing always,
of nothing lost.
and now my adolescent brain is frozen in terror:
winter is a gate we walk through one by one.
This garden will be repossessed.
What will we become when we finally melt away?
Will anyone find my words one day?
Everyone believes youth will always shine from the mirror
It can't be real, watching your own face wilt and droop with autumn
Going numb piece by piece
I leaned on your steady chest and thought,
this heart. this heart. this heart.
I don't want it to ever stop beating.
You made me alive, peace by peace
Early summer in our garden today
We hum, and sing, and gather
Across the river, we can see the lights go out
gunfire, brainfire,  lay waste
Til we all lay, waste.
When that final hour comes,
If we are lucky enough to recognize it
I want to lay my wounded head on your softening chest
this heart. this heart. this heart.
this heart.