Friday, April 12, 2013

Defend the day we see the daffodils




Read today's poem first, please. It is important to me.

Random thing: Poem of the Day (for April Poetry Month):


Daffodils
BY ALICIA OSTRIKER
—for David Lehman

Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

—William Wordsworth

Going to hell so many times tears it
Which explains poetry. 

—Jack Spicer

The day the war against Iraq begins
I’m photographing the yellow daffodils
With their outstretched arms and ruffled cups
Blowing in the wind of Jesus Green

Edging the lush grassy moving river
Along with the swans and ducks
Under a soft March Cambridge sky
Embellishing the earth like a hand

Starting to illustrate a children’s book
Where people in light clothes come out
To play, to frisk and run about
With their lovers, friends, animals, and children

As down every stony back road of history
They’ve always done in the peaceful springs
—Which in a sense is also hell because
The daffodils do look as if they dance

And make some of us in the park want to dance
And breathe deeply and I know that
Being able to eat and incorporate beauty like this
I am privileged and by that token can

Taste pain, roll it on my tongue, it’s good
The cruel wars are good the stupidity is good,
The primates hiding in their caves are very good,
They do their best, which explains poetry.

What explains poetry is that life is hard
But better than the alternatives,
The no and the nothing. Look at this light
And color, a splash of brilliant yellow

Punctuating an emerald text, white swans
And mottled brown ducks floating quietly along
Whole and alive, like an untorn language
That lacks nothing, that excludes

Nothing. Period. Don’t you think
It is our business to defend it
Even the day our masters start a war?
To defend the day we see the daffodils?

"Daffodils" from No Heaven, by Alicia Suskin Ostriker, © 2005


As I write this morning I am sitting in a coffee shop in Easthampton, MA, hiding from the spitting sleet outside, and wondering spring is really happening. The week has gotten away from me, and I meant to post this days ago when the weather in CLE was glorious and the daffodils had just started to bloom.

Cleveland and daffodils are forever linked in my mind. I moved from NYC in mid March and the sudden eruption of daffodils everywhere -- in my backyard (miraculous!), along sidewalks, and all up and down the wooded hills of the cultural gardens in Rockefeller Park along MLK -- made me feel welcomed and validated for coming. I grew up with daffodils up the street in the wonderous yard of the Summers (Hollis was a poet and English prof, Laura was a kind and dazzlingly elegant woman who cultivated a spectacular spring garden and presided over the best Easter egg hunt anywhere -- the eggs were hand decorated by faculty and grad students and late winter parties, some with intricate black ink cartoons. I wish had one of those). But the daffodils of my first spring in Cleveland were of a different order. And every year since, they remind me riotously that just maybe I am home.



Reading: I have finished the Carol Anshaw. I was satisfied to the very end. I had read her first novel, Aquamarine, which I picked up while working at a bookstore then let sit on a shelf for several years. I like that book, but I didn't love it. Carry the One, I think I loved.

On to rereading Possession, by AS Byatt. Though I can't find the paperback copy I have owned forever and ever (did I lend it to you? can I have it back?). So I picked up (or rather, caused to be picked up -- thanks, Sarah!) a hardcover from Mac's Backs. Beginning it I am a bit overwhelmed by the connections I find to other things I have been thinking and working on. I know this book was an inspiration to me, but I didn't realize how much.

Writing: Yes, Tuesday and Wednesday were good. Writing a scene that illuminates a character is ways I happy to finally be doing. Thursday and Friday (so far) not so much.

Dinner: Tuesday night, David made (at my command) an absolutely super phenomenal coucous and chicken salad with peas and red bell peppers and red onion and mint with roasted garlic vinaegrette. The recipe is from a book I've owned for several years but haven't really delved into much. Garlic, Garlic, Garlic! by Clevelanders Fred and  Linda Griffith. This recipe makes me want to return to the book soon.

Wednesday, I helped the kids make sunbutter noodles (like peanut noodles, but safe for Z) and a simple cucumber salad with black sesame seeds.

Thursday, I made Tuscan beans (with some of those legumes of the week I mentioned on Monday) - recipe from this tiny, charming book I got for David for Christmas at Loganberry -- The Goodness of Beans, Peas, and Lentils - and we also had olive bread from On the Rise and a salad of finely shredded romaine dressed with garlicky olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.


Soundtrack: I've been doing yoga again, which is good, but have totally not been paying attention to music at all, which is not good. Is it possible to both?




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