Great weekend. M came to me, smiling, with a geometry question that she quickly figured out. She brought me a coding question that she solved while explaining to me. She worked on some Lucretius, her uncle’s favorite puzzle. We sorted some of her art, she read a book, she swam and laughed with geriatrics at the pool while listening to big bands. We watched two episodes of Merlin. And before she fell asleep she wrote in her journal — half under the blankets with a light clip and pen — habits gleaned from her mom. I’m thankful for the wide company of teachers that animate her interests. The wind is howling outside on the ridge.
Red corduroy chair from a pair that mom and dad bought in 1964. Orange rocker liberated from Ptown 23 years ago. Blue rocker from Mawmaw (great grandma), reupholstered by Henry and Ruth (grandparents), sculptures by Dana (sister), venomous animals because watch out, bird guide because of Warren Hall (department chair) and Mike Chamberlin (ecology instructor), Tolkien and Winnie in Latin because of Mavis, 1736 physician manual because of Faith’s deep interest in malady and cure, Gorey tarot pack because Martha taught Faith how to read cards in Bloomington, blue shark and green alligator because of the snakebite sisters: Turtle and Wookiee, resident dogs.
I know that everyone has probably seen Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures. But I was thinking how nice it would be to have one just waving or cruising past. Would it pass like an electric car? Like bicycles with banana seats and cards in the spokes? Would it feel more like being passed by a willow tree on the move?
Three dogs cross the meadow
at three speeds, oriented
in different directions
like a compass that has lost north.
The dachshund drags through
the mint. The lab’s thick tail
knocks the new fiddleheads.
Puppy leaps like a fish from the grass
creating her sunset ripples.
Each sniffs and paws, lifts a leg,
imagines a deer.
They watch each other,
they watch her, making moves
to be seen by the path-picker,
to be known by that fuzzy sorrel,
this damp ground.
The woman conjures the W. A. L. K,
and probably the sun’s
golden hour. She wags them
with a predictable happiness.
Thinking has always been described as a conscious effort. Artist Henri Cartier-Bresson called thinking a “decisive moment” of consciousness, but in reality thin-slicing is an unconscious behavior. Similarly, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt referred to a direct connection between his eye and his shutter finger, bypassing his brain, which was critical for many of his most celebrated images.
-Wikipedia entry on “Thin-slicing” (Miscellaeous)
On the island where I was a child
nearly everyone was retired, their fortunes
already made. Death was around them
the way water was around our streets.
They taught me how to go fishing
without catching fish; the tide’s breath
was marked in notebooks they kept
beneath their pillows. One old lady
fed me chocolates from a tin
until my teeth were stained by greed.
The old do things slowly so I grew used
to grocery store lines
that did not move, cars that stopped
in the middle of the road. One man spent
a whole day helping me bury a squirrel;
we wrote odes and dirges
to the way it once hurried and planned.