Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

the falcon cannot hear the falconer

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold…so we are told.

And this held true to me and my two book reading list. Instead, I went on a huge Elizabeth Taylor splurge. Not That one but a literary one. Here's the one I'm talking about:

If you have an interest in self-deception (in others and yourself) and I must admit, I'm fascinated by it, then Taylor is for you. All her novels are “domestic” but the dramas…are the day-to-day dramas we all know and then some that are not. I just got done with “Angel” which may have had the ugliest heroine (heroine?) I have ever read in my life. And yet I couldn't stop. Her life played out true and hard and certain decisions she made as a child, she kept on doing for her whole life. And isn't that just like all of us? Some say Taylor is like Austen but I'm not for that. I love Austen but what Taylor is doing is something else entire. I think I find her closer to Barbara Pym (but then that's another Austen comparison) but anyway…Taylor's books are par excellence and she holds an unflinching stare where most of everyone cannot bear to look into. Especially many writers.

Besides that, things here are pretty fair and I'm gearing up for Christmas knitting extravaganza. I figure if I start now, I may get some gifts done in time. May…

But it must be noted that I completed my summer challenge of roasting a chicken. For some reason, roasting a chicken really intimidated me. Not sure. I just want to say though, for everyone, it's super easy. All the guts are gone by the time you get it. No worries there. So I roasted that chicken, made stock from it and then an amazing and homey soup by Tasha Tudor, artist and writer and chef using that stock. Surely now I can conquer the world.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.

 

茶の煙柳と共にそよぐ也

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

Issa

(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.