Monday, May 3, 2010

Lush and spilling over

Readers of this blog will have noticed a good patch of silence of late: end-of-semester (and so of my wonderful Whitman-Dickinson-Twentieth Century Seminar which I wish just went on and on) meets National Poetry Month. I would be relieved, next year, if we instituted something like National Poetry Morning, or maybe National Poetry Tuesday. I understand, of course, that attention is a good problem to have, and also that I could say no a little more often. But the colleges and other venues where I read understandably want to schedule events during poetry month, and so before you know it April's calendar becomes a scribbled and crosshatched road map. And as the month proceeds, I seem to have less and less of an inner life, and must concentrate carefully on reservations, tickets, schedules... lest I do what I did yesterday, and confidently jump on the wrong train, only to find myself heading into the wrong part of New Jersey and not able to get where I need to be at the right hour. Thank goodness for cheerful sponsors and patient audiences!

But last night I got to the Springs, after a pleasant afternoon in South Brunswick, and we had dinner in our favorite welcoming Mexican restaurant in Amagansett, and then drove home into an oddly warm night, the big sky out here between the dark bulks of the trees a streaked jumble of clouds and stars. A good night's sleep, and then, this morning, when I'd planned to spend the day in the burgeoning garden, it poured down rain.

But the rain made the garden glow more deeply, the blue of the ajuga electric against countless shades of green, differentiated by the leaf-shapes and textures that make leaves so inexhaustibly varied: strap foliage of Siberian iris, near-white curl of the tight fern fronds, busy matte-textured curls of the fountaining daylilies. Last year the garden had been such a banquet for the deer that it didn't seem anywhere near as green and full by early May. It's all a bit of a mess since I haven't been here to weed and attend, but because the garden's got a solid structure -- better this year, after lots of moving and fiddling last season -- it looks beautiful even in its neglect. Lush, spilling over -- partly the gift of this spring's wild rains. The woods around us are still full of brackish ponds, and every time it rains again they spill over onto the road.

I wouldn't be noticing much of this if I didn't have this day of shutting out whatever I'm supposed to be doing and simply looking. Exactly what body and soul want, after the surface-gliding of travel. Tomorrow I have to go to a reading, then introduce one, then go to a party in the city -- but I will be bringing the green along with me, invisibly, and it will be with me now for many months to come. No teaching this coming fall. So a long season of tending this place while I'm also tending the book that I've been promising will at last come together this summer and fall. An almost unthinkable luxury: June until December, to make of the pieces and scraps and essays I have of this project, which has been simmering -- oh, two years now, three? Of course I'm going to be traveling too -- Juniper Institute in June, Tomales Bay in October, readings here and there. But the focus, now, shifts toward home, and my body seems a little ahead of the calendar, already settling in.

7 comments:

Katzknits said...

So nice to hear your voice again!

Mari said...

Lovely. Good writing, and a well-deserved respite, to you in the coming months.

Elisabeth said...

Oh the joy of settling down, settling in on the joyous task of writing.

ROBERT SCOTT CALDWELL said...

Love your garden writing Mark. Take a deep breath and relax. Take care, signed Bobby C. {Elijah, MO.)

apprentice said...

I'm reading Clare Leighton's book Four Hedges just now an she writes of May "there are days in the round of the year that hold everything in the cup of their hand"

It sounds like you've just experienced such a day.

BTW your name was mentioned in a discussion on the BBC this week about who writes best on sex. John Freeman of Granta suggested that perhaps gay people write well on sex because it is a political act and it allows the straight reader to co-imagine the experience.

BBC Radio 4 Start the Week:

"Sex is a fundamental human experience but one of the hardest to describe. "I have the language of pornography, I have the language of anatomy or medicine, I have the language of euphemism, and I’m happy with none of them." The latest edition of Granta, the magazine of new writing, is dedicated to sex. The editor, John Freeman, talks about sex, intimacy, language and avoiding being nominated for the Bad Sex Award."

Glenn Ingersoll said...

National Poetry Teatime sounds civilized.

巧生 said...

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