Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FEBRUARY 30, 2011 - taking questions

Take One

What are you doing here?
I'm trying to write.  At home the phone rings, the piles of gravel mutter, the second coat of paint in the bathroom whines for attention.  Also the dog.  While the same sad array of disappointed books and obdurately unlucky rocks stare back at me. It is quiet here.  And I can let home go.  After all, dinner is already bubbling away: beans, fifteen varieties of.  The laundry: quelled.  The paperwork: up-to-date.  Everyone who needs to be fed or cheered - or fed and cheered - in my immediate purview has been seen to.

What are you doing here?

I'm watching sea gulls fly across a patch of blue sky.  And tons and tons of water flow west, north, northwest.  Dripping from the sky, dripping down out of local watersheds in hundreds of small cascades and flowing now together to empty themselves into the wide immensities that are Ocean.  And I'm watching an old lady in a crocheted cap - a black beanie with variegated neon seams - totter up to the rail overlooking the river.  She fusses about in her pocket, wipes her face with a kleenex, totters away.

What are you doing here?
I'm sipping orange mint tea from a thermos.  I'm eating a half-sandwich, one slice whole wheat: folded over, peanut butter: 100% and unadulterated.  And peapods.  And stunted carrots.  I have an apple waiting.  I am so very stuck in this age and place and socioeconomic profile, sitting here in my soccer-mom van at the water's edge.
What are you doing here?
I am trying to write something and crossing out lines like the heart of what really matters and the thread of light in this mazy murk and meanwhile my mind keeps wandering away to that article from Sunset (June 1993) in the waiting room at the DMV about braising/deglazing and now I'm thinking how a clutch of yellow onions in beef broth/with balsamic, respectively, would be rather divine if stirred (with a little garlic) into those 15 varieties of beans.  And then maybe some smoked paprika?  a bit of sage?  Crumbled bacon.  And collards cooked up in a bit of the grease to go along with.

What are you doing here?
I'm looking/ not looking at the young lovers who have wandered over to the gazebo down on the grassy shore.  Their hands in each other's pockets.  They lean into each other.  They read each other's faces like everything they'll ever need is written right there.  They ought to be in school this time of day.  Or working.  I'm trying not to remember what they look like.  I don't want to recognize them later - or more probably just her - months from now at the food bank, big-bellied and abandoned.
What are you doing here?
I'm trying to shape a life I can live with.  I'm trying to balance in and out, dark and water - which is so egregiously self-plagiarism, too utterly obscure and private metaphor that I might as well just say I'm aspiring to be the Telescope's Apprentice and have done with any wish to communicate clearly.


What are you doing here?
I don't know.



Take Two

I wrote a poem once.  So long ago, it seems like someone else wrote it.


What the Telescope Hears


You scan the void with such aplomb.
You gather light, reflect. I clown
around in borrowed clothing, goatskin

suitcase packed with worn-out
constellations. Spectator
pumps Andromeda

wore, Orion's studded belt,
the Virgo's wig and flowered caftan.
I am so broken down

into question-answer, mix-
and-match coordinates - still
hoping to be seen through,
yearning to be taken in,

absorbed by all that isn't there:
black holes, dark matter. O


you who see it all: help
me to the right ascension, the arc
of declination where I

will give up every mask to see
the room where stars dissolve and spin
themselves from dust. O deaf

and blind but filled with light,
heaven's laughter in particle waves —
show me the way between

in and out, dark and water,
sudden planet, white apple,
bright and fiery pomegranate

© by Emma Jay

What does it mean?
It means I'm still not there yet.

6 comments:

John Romeo Alpha said...

Wherever the journey may wind, that pot of slow simmering beans with the add-ons you mention will get you there. Tummy rumbles while reading. Thanks.

Fresca said...

Ha. Just yesterday I changed my "about me" profile statement to
"not sure what."

The unspoken question being something like your "What are you doing here?"

Emma J said...

Fresca, are you beginning to suspect as I am, that this is question that never gets answered permanently?


JAR - it was incredibly (supply your own gustatory superlative) - the braising/glazing repeated unil the onions are swooning - richly limp and (more superlatives) fragrant. Smoked paprika. A whisper of sage. How something so simple can taste so complex? I hope you try it.

Lisa B. said...

Among all the things I want to say: gorgeous, gorgeous writing.

Mrs. Organic said...

You are that last photo, the light in the forest. Gorgeous photography, gorgeous writing.

Melody said...

beautiful poem. beautiful.

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