Monday, March 14, 2016

and yet and yet

"There are enough signs. Of the lack of tenderness in the world. And yet. And yet. All you have to do is ask. Anyone here can extol the virtues of an onion. Where to get barbecue minced, pulled, or chopped. The hour of the day they have known the thorn of love."

- C.D. Wright, Deepstep Come Shining

Let's begin our week with C.D. Wright who left us this past January. Her most recent book is wonderfully titled: The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All.

Do I have to say much more about the book, after you hear the title? It's the book I need, right now. That's enough perhaps?

from "Pictures Never Taken but Received"

"Photographs are a writing of the light. Photos graphein. Or in some instances photos graphone. I can hear them. Some say, (you) be careful. Be afraid. Love. Be true. Gnaw. Be brave. Clot. Be real. Scream. Hush. Listen. Womb. Sleep now, "Be still. The Hanging Gardens were a dream." Some engage only the silent aftermath. The relationship of poetry to silence is as involved as that of photography's. In photography, silence is a given and and effect. In poetry it is a state of mind and an effect." 

A favorite C.D. Wright poem, quoted here perhaps once or twice is "Living" which begins:

If this is Wednesday, write Lazartigues, return library books, pick up passport form, cancel the paper.

If this is Wednesday, mail B her flyers and K her shirts. Last thing I asked as I walked K to her car, “You sure you have everything?” “Oh yes,” she smiled, as she squalled off. Whole wardrobe in front closet.

I am proud only of those days that pass in
undivided tenderness.

- Robert Bly


by Erica Funkhouser

Last night the animals
beneath her window
crept out of hiding
to comb the dirt
from each other's fur.

Rising to watch,
she discovered the lilacs
lit from below by ivory vinca.
The street on the other side
of the trees continued
to contain its passing cars;
tenderly her teeth
let her tongue rest
against their curving backs.

Tonight when she lies
in bed again,
she will remember
the one kind thing
her grown daughter said today
after weeks of scrutiny,

and the moment at work
just now, when a stack
of Day-Glo folders
cascaded over her desk,
thrilling the white cubicle
with their descent.


There are enough signs of a lack of tenderness as C.D. Wright says. And yet, and yet. 

How about we lie in bed and remember that one kind thing from our day. That one tender moment, beautiful accident, chance encounter, a look exchanged. The way a hand rests on the top of a dog's head, the fondling of a floppy ear. The sympathetic look someone gives you in a long line-up. The caring and funny email a friend writes you. The glass of wine poured for you at the end of a long day.

This next photo a bit of fun, because it's been months and months since it's been light enough to photograph food at dinner time. Made this last week, recipe from the blog, Belle Vie. 

And here is lovely Ace, who hurt his leg last week (pulled muscle, limped for days) after chasing a raven for a quarter of a mile over the ice and muck of not quite spring.

"We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we’ve never even met?" 

– David Foster Wallace

Who knows why, but the DFW quotation particularly speaks to me of late. Have been feeling that curious feeling. Missing something. Lonely.

Perhaps the answer to this feeling is to leave messages. "Sorry bits and samplings." Or, feathers.

“And it occurred to me that in this new millennial life of instant and ubiquitous connection, you don't in fact communicate so much as leave messages for one another, these odd improvisational performances, often sorry bits and samplings of ourselves that can't help but seem out of context. And then when you do finally reach someone, everyone's so out of practice or too hopeful or else embittered that you wonder if it would be better not to attempt contact at all.” 

Chang-rae Lee

This quotation is admittedly from a book not yet read, but on my to-read list. You can read about Aloft, here.

More samplings:

Things worth reading. An article titled, "Contemplating the Infinite with Annie Dillard "by John Freeman. I sort of needed to read this take on her. And then that article led me to this letter to John Freeman from Pico Iyer, about Annie Dillard.

Annie Dillard is certainly one of my literary heroes. I wouldn't have written Calm Things without having read her. (Her books were in the stack I kept close by those days, along with May Sarton, John Berger, Anne Morrow Lindbergh).

Upcoming: I'll be in Toronto on April 5th to launch Rumi and the Red Handbag along with Palimpsest Press's spring poetry titles. You can catch the updates and details on my website.

Watched: River, season one. Stellan Skarsgard is amazing.

Here are the Things you Should Worry About While Writing a Novel. O yes.

So this is what it looks like here, not quite spring, not quite winter.

And because things happen. The soundtrack to this post has been:

And this is the raven that Ace chased as it cruised above us, dipsy-doodling, showing off, landing on a fence post, at last, just to laugh at the silly mutt.

And a few iPhone photos to end with. You can read about ravens being relatively new to my town here. It's been such a warm winter, no wonder.

Wishing you all calm and tender things in the week ahead.

- Shawna


  1. I like that David Foster Wallace quote too (though, admittedly, I've not read any of his work. Am I missing out? )

    1. Definitely worth looking into. I like his essays - though all the footnotes aren't really for me :) There's a lot of his stuff on the web.

  2. So much to love in this week's post: your tea mug, C.D. Wright's wonderful title, the Robert Bly quote, Ace's yawn, the ravens. I enjoyed John Freeman's article about Annie Dillard, which is so much more generous and, yes, tender than William Deresiewicz's acerbic piece in The Atlantic that you linked a few weeks ago:

    Have a good week!

    1. Thanks, Leslie, and yes, so much more generous.

  3. Hooray! I will be there on April 5

  4. I read this very early Monday morning before my guests (Karen Bass and her husband were staying with us this week) got up so I didn't have time to really take it in nor to leave a note, so I'm back. What lovely images and oh do I ever love that cup! Poor dear Ace.
    Any chance at all, that you know of, in doing any author visits in BC for Rumi and the Red Handbag? I wasn't able to get to Edmonton but if you should be coming to BC (as Karen was) I'd love to attend. Have a calm yet productive week.

  5. That one tender moment, what a lovely thought that is. You would think that in these crazy times, there should at least be one..I'm going to be on the lookout now. Poor Ace, I hope he is feeling better. Beautiful images, as always, but the feather shots I just love! Interesting works by C.D. Wright, I'm going to check out that particular book.


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