Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Night Frolic — Acorns

Tuesday was not just a wedding anniversary it
was grey and blustery, rain-soaked
intervals and intervals that couldn't
decide whether they
were intervals

Nineteen years ago, Tuesday, it was the same
grey morning spit which did not stop a golf
game, a walk along the ocean and into
church and everyone said it meant
good luck

But luck is hardly a factor except
when you're down on your luck
and your spouse looks as
grey as the day you
were married

Or the day nineteen years later when you're walking
the dog, or the cat, or the pig or whatever it is
you've domesticated and from the south a storm
of all colors churns maple and oak leaves
and acorns

A day more menacing than the day you were
married enamored of one another, long
before sweet quirks actualized as
annoyances that drove
you crazy

Like his pathological resistance to plan anything or
engage in hyper polemics, as opposed to, say
avoidance, or his addiction to e-bay and
old movie posters too big for
mere walls

(And you thought, you really thought, that
you wouldn't mind if he ate crackers in
your bed)

How is it one in every two marriages survive?
When the veins of heaven distend with squalls
and the oak's acorn-spittle flops on your  head
you quicken pace and feel bad that you ever
loathed him

That there were those moments, days, months, when you loathed
one another—year two, year five, year twelve, year...
the sky and pavement bend heliotrope and two wide-eyed
squirrels chase barb-capped nuts, acorns as dark
as mahogany

They taste of bitter tannin but the squirrels don't mind
they pounce on fallen mast knowing the cache
which is to be their sustenance in the cold
dark months is all that will get
them through

And then, an interval

Great berry chromatic bursts, wind funneling acorns
into its vortex, you're in the storm's eye which
seems oddly not annoying or vile, and as it
spins out on the tar it dumps brilliant
green acorns

In your pocket you place two firm, sage-lacquered
nuts, bring them home as a warm breeze carries
your back.

*     *     *

The Acorn's first release, The Pink Ghosts (2004), was a sumptuous tribute to the band's native Ottawa. Since then, The Acorn has gone on to record several albums, including the acclaimed Glory Hope Mountain (2007), an anthology of mellifluous and vivid stories inspired by song writer Rolf Klausener's Central-American-born mother. And later, No Ghost (2009), described (direct from their website) as: 
...a recording swaddled in dichotomy: togetherness and isolation, acoustic and electric, destruction and restoration.
Which began as:
...hazy late-night improvisations, early morning melodies pulled from the thinning threads of sleep. Modernity clashed with the bucolic via exploratory percussion, feedback, acoustic textures and the natural surrounding sounds.

 Watch those acorns!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Heart Dies of this Sweetness

Today's Weekend Wisdom photograph (my rain-drenched Rose of Sharon) is inspired by poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly, whose work was introduced to me last summer by  Darcie Dennigan during a three day poetry workshop. The poem, a beautiful rhapsody/tragedy, entitled The Rose of Sharon, published in The Orchard can be found in its entirety here. This poem came to me yesterday when, peering through a southern facing bedroom window in my home, I noticed how my enormous Rose of Sharon (three of them grouped together, actually) was lunging forward toward lofty, water-jammed downy cheeks that pressed back the noon sun. Wet and heavy with storm, the branches dangled perilously above smaller hedges and a pine tree. We've let the lot go wild. It's outgrown the bed, become unruly and, I'm afraid, is moving toward a mass beheading.

(And what I've done to Tree of breath, Pride of my heart, Pool of my scented breath is simply unforgivable!)

I didn't know a thing about Kelly's work before last year. I returned to her poems, more than just The Rose of Sharon, only of late—for their soothing, pleasing prosody, the juxtaposition of violence and splendor, and for Kelly's general approach to our protean world.

Here, a heart wrenching poem from Kelly's collection of poems, Song.


Listen: there was a goat's head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat's head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly,
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat's headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.
The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped. . . .
The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night's bush of stars, because the goat's silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train's horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.
She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat's body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat's torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke. . . .
But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn't know was that the goat's head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn't know
Was that the goat's head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother's call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.