Wednesday, September 23, 2009

poet's eggs

"My year's almost up," I told Eldest. "Then I can quit."

She looks at me, "But will you?"

"Do you want me to?" I ask.  I think she does.  I think she'd like me to concentrate on her this last year.  Concentrate at least on running everything smoothly here at home.

"I don't think you will," says Eldest.

Smart girl.  Wise answer.  But is she right?

Back in my dark November, darker February, when I balked at sitting myself down and writing another post - I coaxed and held out promises to my sad and stubborn self, Come on - just a few more months.  Keep faith with me.  Just until the end of our year.  Then you can quit.

I'm coming up on that year in just a few more weeks. Have I done what I set out to accomplish? - to keep sane, keep my head above grief's water - by noticing something outside myself and cooking one memorable meal each week . . .
(which meal fell by the wayside somewhere in January - sorry, Starving Family - at least if you have not been memorably fed, you have scavenged sufficiently and good news! as I get happier, the meals do, too!)

Of course, my goals for this blog shifted just one or two posts in. It dawned quite soon that blog-writing could be made More Useful.

That Blogging was, in fact, not just Therapy, but a shortcut to writing a quirky, more immediate life history - One Year in the Life of  - before Eldest goes away to college - a series of snapshots of what our life was shaped like here in the Year 2008-2009.

Really an invaluable source-text into the lifeways of turn-of-the-century techno-rural Pacific Northwest for generations to come.

But there is no need, after all, for Year after Year in the Life of . . .

And, why the eggs?

Because I love the eggs. It's true they do not inspire a passion in me like their lustrous great-aunt the Eggplant. But looking at them comforts me. Taking pictures of eggs is, in fact, a form of meditative yoga among the techno-rural of my particular latitude and longitude.

Because, for reasons I do not entirely understand, looking at eggs and handling them, hefting their light weight in my cupped hand, makes me feel that my life is not actually slipping away like so much sand through Time's long fingers. Eggs are the secret sharer to that poem by Anna Kamienska which also comforts me in a way too deep for me to explain.

"A Prayer that Will be Answered"

Lord let me suffer much
and then die

Let me walk through silence
and leave nothing behind not even fear

Make the world continue
let the ocean kiss the sand just as before

Let the grass stay green
so that the frogs can hide in it

so that someone may bury his face in it
and sob out his love

Make the day rise brightly
as if there were no more pain

And let my poem stand clear as a windowpane
bumped by a bumblebee’s head.
(translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanaugh)

This regular posting has helped me show up to the page each morning - not the windowpane itself perhaps, but a way to get to something solid, even if almost invisible, something that may stand.

Here in these posts there is less at stake for me than in my other writing and so I can play with approach and narrative shape.

And there is - RESPONSE - regular connection with outside voices.

And really, this is a way, my dear Eldest, of returning me to the family life that centers in our kitchen. Because I had lost courage a bit.

Besides, it doesn't have to be a choice, does it? The grid of calendars and outer life, or the personal orb of writing? Can't there be a harmony between them both? An inter-suspension of disbelief?

There is, of course, as always, a story behind these eggs.

The day I walked through the farmer's market, on my quest for better-not-bitter Eggplant, no one else wanted to leave the car to come with me - except YoungSon. This is not because he loves me best. It is because he had a quest of his own. Peaches and - blue eggs, Mom! We have to get some.

In fact these particular eggs were being sold by a couple of young guys that -

"Wait. I know you."

"Yeah. From the farm." It is one of the apprentices from the Island Farm where I volunteered last year. He reminds me of his name.

"That's right. I was thinking . . . Dylan? like Dylan Thomas, the poet?"

"Close, close," he laughs and his shorter friend laughs with him.

"And you've started your own farm!"

Last January, I had heard from the other apprentice who is renting the old farmhouse and its acreage with him. She had emailed to see if I wanted to take that beekeeping class we'd talked about. Not me, not then, but she is getting honey already, he says.

"And you're still writing?" Because he is a poet. We had talked poetry last year, weeding the rows of beans, thinning the carrots, and he had invited me to his first reading.

"Yeah. In fact, I have another reading next week at noon at the bookstore just - " he nods across the street.

"Are we going to get the eggs, Mom?" pipes up Son

"Yes. But first - "

The poet - whose healthy face and kind manners would have made my grandmother exclaim really a beautiful young man jumps up - "What can I help you with - ?"

"Actually, if you could just step aside." Because, in truth, he is blocking the light that had been lighting up the cherry tomatoes.

"Oh. Here. Let me clear off this junk."

"It's okay. Won't even show up in my picture." Actually, I want the junk. My esthetic requires the bright light and color shining out of clutter and random necessity. I want beauty before it's been neatened. But he has cleared it mostly already before I can stop him.

Still, these are poet's eggs we bring home with us. His friend opens up all the cartons and lets YoungSon choose the dozen with the most and best colored eggs.

These eggs, my dears, are the material manifestation of possibilities and of doing your dreams.

Only YoungSon gets to crack them open once we get them home. They make a batch of cookies, some banana bread, cornbread, little pancakes to accompany dinner one night when stirred into crystallized-ginger, pear & dried-cranberry oatmeal left over from breakfast. And there are still three of them left in the refrigerator.

Proof that it is possible to function on the plane of signifier and symbolism and still nourish a family.


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

"It's true they do not inspire a passion in me like their lustrous great-aunt the Eggplant. But looking at them comforts me." Yes, yes, I know exactly what you mean and that is why I keep hens I guess. Thank you for giving me words.

Do you still want Grandma Ellingford's chili sauce recipe? I need your e-mail. I keep forgetting to ask for it.

Do keep writing. Please.

Melissa said...

I don't think a year is sufficient to deal with your grief. You need to do it at least another year, definitely.

I love the picture that is half the laptop and a picture of Eldest, and half your kitchen and the eggs. You say so much with the pictures you take.

Miss you!

Melissa said...

Oh, and I think if you are needing a profession to fill your days with when Eldest has flown, you should be a food photographer. You take such exquisite, appealing pictures of food (especially produce!) A poet photographer - what could be better?

Lisa B. said...

Let me add my voice to the chorus: I have really come to look forward to your blog. You're writing so beautifully! And the pictures and everything else as well. Please keep writing.

Mrs. Organic said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures. I wonder if eggs and their connection to creation are why they inspire serenity in me? Forgive me if that last sentence made no sense (pain meds, you know).

Please keep writing here, I look forward to your words and letting them wash over me (photos, too).

Jenny said...

I, too, hope you don't stop writing. I have enjoyed looking a bit into your life as well. Good to hear from you!

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