Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Category: England

Erasure Project #1, pt. 3: “Love is words”

IMG_20130915_020328

Another piece of my current erasure project!

Transcript:

Love is words
there are many
kinds

vain
temporary

spiritual

we are
a web of
love

love is
a reflec-
tion
love is called,
love is called
love.

all
love
is

is

locked in language.

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Guide to Natural Life

When you live in a rural area of England for enough time you eventually find the best places from which to watch sunsets. You wonder about them as you walk home to your apartment, peering through the new darkness. It is like there is something on your mind; the corners of your eyes are sensitive to places from which you can sit and look to the West.

It is easy to see the horizon; England can only hide very little things. Watch the sun be enveloped by a lake. Stand on the eastern edge of a field sloping to the West.

English birds don’t notice when days’ end has come. You hear songs which until now you did not realize you thought of as holy prayers for the sun. You walk home in the dark and notice wings shuffling in the tree-branches.

If some islands are the loci of certain seasons, (you can think of a few — Antarctica: Winter, Hawaii: Summer) then England is the Spring. It is made up of small animals and lovemaking done underground or behind grass and trees.

You know the patches of daffodils that bloom earliest and where the sun sits the longest. You wonder if it is as easy to see it set back in America where glacial valleys are so deep you forget a real horizon exists.

You floated from time. You have to come back in and it will lurch painfully. You saw an endpoint and just beyond it — a land burned deep, red and blue where the day ends. When you are there, the sun is everywhere.

State of Mind

     My state of mind strikes me in the head as I wake up from another unintended nap in my seat on the airplane. I had been sure, without realizing it, that in this transitional space, this quarter-orbit of Earth from a place I will never be again to a place I haven’t been for a year, the place where I grew up, where my parents are waiting for me, that my memories, or rather, my outer-layer, somehow reliant upon context, which I thought I must need in order truly to have ‘been there’, would drift away and disappear like flakes of skin into the plane engines. I must have thought that I would arrive and, with my first step onto American land, be an entirely new person, or just that layers of experience, my accumulated self, would be washed away by time and distance. Once at home, in my natural environment, I would be renewed, like a deck which, when power-washed, reveals clean wood beneath or even like a book whose new and temporary owner holds in his hand the same binding, the same words, the same unbuttoning of story, but it is a matter of debate whether something in the pages remembers hands which have held them before, the person who, in releasing their secrets, could not help also being released and becoming something entirely new.

    It seems to me that this is what is crucial to understand: either I always am the same self, or no such thing exists, and either way, it makes no difference. Just as the eye dilates when I look back into the plane cabin after having gazed out the window at the sun-bright absolutely blazing white clouds and at that instant the cabin appears in an entirely different range of the visual spectrum before being adjusted back to a more appropriate level, so that either there is a standard of light and thus change has significance, or everything is just a perceptual mish-mash; it makes no difference. What is lost? I am, it is.

The Waste Land Visited

O She holds me in the near-dark and shakes me. I see the coals reflected in her eyes, that glint; she’d like to slap me.

O I hear a song; the wind-borne whistling of a fisherman ambling the Lower Thames.

I haven’t spoken since I arrived. We are too tired on the bed and she’d like me to stay.

“My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.”
“Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.”
“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?”
“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

Her accent is in another room. There are four doors ajar. The fifth is closed, out of reach, only visible around corners.

O I fished with him, the river lapping our feet. The tongues of rats. I see him in the water once more, fishing for his pearls.

She tries to memorialize with me. “Do you know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing?”
The fire extinguishes, the pressure changes, the wind runs out through cracks in the room.
“What is that noise?”
She is too possessed to understand. I see the river-sand shifting.

O We sit in the dark and quiet on the bed and a third person sits just behind her. She wants to utter me from distraction.

“Are you alive or not? Is there nothing in your head?”

I hear chanting. A word or three. In the dark, the room shakes. A sphere, musical, open everywhere.

Guide to Natural Life

When you live in a rural area of England for enough time you eventually find the best places from which to watch sunsets. You wonder about them as you walk home to your apartment, peering through the new darkness. It is like there is something on your mind; the corners of your eyes are sensitive to places where you can sit and look to the West.

It is easy to see the horizon; England only hides very little things. Sit by a river or a lake where you can watch the sun be enveloped by water. Stand on the eastern edge of a field sloping to the West.

English birds don’t notice when the end of day has come. You hear songs which until just now you did not realize you thought of as holy prayers for the sun. You walk home in the dark and see wings shuffling in the tree-branches.

If some islands are the loci of certain seasons, (you can think of a few — Antarctica: Winter, Hawaii: Summer) then England is the Spring. It is made up of small animals and lovemaking done underground or behind grass and trees.

You know the patches of daffodils that bloom earliest and where the sun sits the longest. You wonder if it is as easy to see it set back in America where glacial valleys are so deep you forget a real horizon exists.

You floated from time. You have to come back in and it will lurch painfully. You saw an endpoint and just beyond it, a land burned flat, red and blue where the day ends. The sun is everywhere.

Relative

I walked back from the lake,
it wasn’t sunset but after.

There was a perfect mist in the grass.

I saw people standing in it,
other people picturing them,
everyone standing in the mist.

I wished the mist were at my feet,
perfect layer of cloud, cold and heat,
water and air, meeting in the grass.

I realized they probably couldn’t see it,

the people standing in the mist.
Then I knew it surrounded me too,
all of us standing in the mist.

I thought about birdsong.
I heard it earlier in the trees,
too high up to see them.

Nothing, just music and leaves.

I opened my ears for it,
and there it was–

Sketch of a Window, Norfolk

I look up from bed

and see birds falling.

At home they drew circles, endless circles–
I wish a day could be drawn without time.

They twist insanely diving like I want to,
through air, into lakes, touching mud.

Sometimes they spin upwards,
never higher than the treetops.

England, nothing so big
it can be seen from the sky.

Ferre

I

see a swan on the lake from my window. It is real, white, feathered,
brisk early morning, Norfolk. Then the past, I’m riding my bike
along the pond with always the same swan in it. The man sitting on
the bench, not moving for years, turns out to be made of wood. It is

early, but I decide to walk down to the lake. The swan is standing free
of the water. Strange to begin with. The swan I know from my pond never
came or went, never broke its seal with the surface. It was a fixture;

the pond itself. This one is so big, naked there, obscene in its
beauty, stretching out its neck with unnatural grace. Nothing could be
but this. I follow it around the lake. When it begins to fly I’m behind
bushes, so I hear it first, impossible sound, the whole body of a swan

not floating indefinitely but rising, leaving. If I had gone into that
pond just one time as a kid and tried touching it, I would have known
if my swan was made of wood. It never flew like this one, goose-like,
huge and heavy, a cloud with substance, body, and wings

I

see a swan on the lake from my window. It is real, white and feathered,
early morning, Norfolk. Then warm, the air, yellow; I’m not too far
from home and riding my bike by always the same pond,

the same swan always floating in it. The man sitting on the bench
nearby, who didn’t move for years, turns out to be made of wood.
It is early, but I decide to leave the building and walk down to the lake.

The swan stands out of the water. The bottom half of its body
reminds me of a vulture’s the way the thought of water
burning and choking me appears if I reflect on the opposite,

a deep breath, the smooth filling up of air. The swan, memory,
never stood up, never came or went, never broke its seal with the
surface. It was fixation; the pond itself. This one is much bigger,

naked, obscene in its beauty, stretching a neck with unnatural grace.
Nothing could be but this. I follow it around, running on the shore
when I lose it, white sun reflecting off the lake. When it begins to

fly I’m behind the trees but I hear it, impossible sound, the whole
body of a swan not floating indefinitely but rising, leaving. I want to
be thirteen and jump into that pond, watch the swan screech and squawk

and fly away, not float silently, hollow thing, wood and paint.
But it never flew, goose-like, huge and heavy, cloud with substance,
body, and wings barely big enough, carrying it away from me.

Silence the Silence

It was supposed to rain here every day.
Instead I wake up and occasionally,
it’s just this static through the windows.
It appears and disappears, the air
opens and closes briefly, giving way.

Static turns into steam, a colder season.
The lake runs from itself into vapor,
and wisps, drifting, visible only against
the dark cracks of hands, concrete walls,
a seagull in the fog, defending itself.

The white wall outside my window
wakes me up to it. Rain solidified.
I blink blink my eyes, black, white,
black, white. I open it up.
Just a crack– just enough–

Standing Next to Shadows (excerpt)

Between the sun and myself on the metal railing stood two pigeons which had been made into absolute shadows. They appeared to be printed on the spherical surface of my vision, tiny birds pre-existent on my brain projected by the light of my eyes. They were momentary avatars of  my ‘self-centerness’ within my world. I seemed now satellite to them: from them grew the metal railing, the deck, myself sitting and watching them, the water of The Serpentine, all of the park bounded by the expanse of my knowledge of London, then what was visible of the sky progressively unveiled by the retreating storm.

As I walked I considered the notion that we experience most truly in memory, and this seemed to be accurate in some way. In certain moments, when we are ‘traveling’ say, there is a divorce between expectation, which exists ‘pre-present’, and actuality, which by its mere reality cannot stand up to imagination. In the duality between evaluation against preexistent mental world and existing physical world, actuality acquires a strange distance of its own, as if it is more unreal than how we imagined it in the first place. In remembering the event we are able to reattach the plastic of imagination though this time colored with our chosen emotion, so that it is either a fantasy or a nightmare, but either way more ‘real’ than the moment of its experience.

But as I reflected on sitting by the lake and reading, it seemed to me that this notion was incomplete. There was a feeling in that present moment, unadulterated by expectation or memory; it was the ‘inside’ of what was physically before me, what I knew I would attempt to describe to myself as I walked away from it. I knew also that even during describing there was a feeling, an inside to that moment as well. This is the endless paradox of experience, lived out through the struggle of the writer: we live in the present moment and all the ones superseding it and to describe, to stand up and turn around, is to change bodies, to move through time, to lose and renew the position you looked out from a moment before, living, perpetual recrystallization.