Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
“In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand
there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see
or the child’s older self, a poet,
a woman dreaming when she should be typing
the last report of the day. If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole. If this were a map
it would be the map of the last age of her life,
not a map of choices but a map of variations
on the one great choice. It would be the map by which
she could see the end of touristic choices,
of distances blued and purpled by romance,
by which she would recognize that poetry
isn’t revolution but a way of knowing
why it must come. If this cheap, mass-produced
wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,
mass-produced yet durable, being here now,
is what it is yet a dream-map
so obdurate, so plain,
she thinks, the material and the dream can join
and that is the poem and that is the late report.”
–Dreamwood, by Adrienne Rich
Feedback on Sunday, and a sense of an endpoint in sight for this revision; dark, sad dreams all through the night, that left me restless, with hammering heart and dry mouth; good writing news this morning. A map of variations on the one great choice. Had to find it again.
if, many years from now, when this is done and perhaps even published . . . if people ask me what did you want it to be? i will point to this book, and say, “i wanted it to be as rich as this, but with more feeling and a heck of a lot more women.”
it’s a kickass read. very much My Thing. but it also leaves me seething with jealousy . . . of the scholarship involved . . . and of his word count. o, to have 400k to play with in a single book!
this month is proving difficult. very relieved i did not commit to nanowrimo (and really, even without the craziness do i need another big writing project? no i do not), as i have suddenly been given a crisis to manage at work. i still have a short story to polish, the novel revisions to complete before i lose all sense of italy . . . and we’re playing host for the holidays this year. there needs to be an extra month between november and december.