Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Weiser River Pillow Book #3
Here's the February section from Eberle's work The Weiser River Pillow Book. In case you missed them, you can read the December & January sections here & here. The Weiser River Pillow Book is a journal Eberle kept over a 12 month period from 2000 thru 2001; a generous excerpt was published by Impassio press in their anthology In Pieces. Eberle's writing was inspired, of course, by Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book. This is Eberle writing in February 2001:
NO MONEY IN FEBRUARY
You wake up so worried that you can’t stay in bed, you run barefoot to the porch to get wood for the fire.
He was awake too, and runs after you, apologizing, as you carry wood to the stove, for not getting up and building a fire. He has knelt already behind you, is handing you a tightly twisted length of paper for kindling.
THINGS HARD TO UNDO
Words spoken in anger.
Backing the car into a snowdrift.
An improvised harness for a large drum.
Leaving an ingredient out of a recipe.
Bitterness and families.
THINGS THAT MAKE THE HEART SINK
Friends who don’t speak honestly.
Any mention of the president on the radio.
Dump-dwellers in Mexico City.
Having to dress for a meeting.
Hearing about an old lover from whom you parted in anger.
The chick hatched in a week of below-zero weather-- I had neglected to take the eggs out of the nest. This tiny black chick looking like an apostrophe when it stretches, as tall as it can, if the hen leaves the box.
The voices of the songbirds are so unbelievable that they seem to make visual shapes between the sky and the snow, trailing out like colored banners with brave symbols on them.
THE FUTURE EXISTS
Seed packets appear in the grocery store.
On Saturday, friends gathering to sing move outside to a sunny porch.
The sump pump is running as the snow melts and groundwater runs into the cellar.
A patch of mud in the driveway.
A blackbird, calling from the draw.
THINGS THAT MULTIPLY
THINGS THAT DON’T RETURN
Places you have seen on trips.
Money spent foolishly.
THINGS THAT BREAK WITH NO WARNING
A cold spell.
Your morning coffee cup.
A mood of frenzied happiness.
MORE SIGNS OF THE FUTURE
THINGS THAT ROAR
The north wind.
Trucks on the highway.
Runoff in the draw as the snow melts.
THINGS THAT SQUEAK
The chair at the computer desk.
The door to the vacuum cleaner closet.
Pablo the parrot imitating the sound of the door to the vacuum cleaner closet.
WHEN THE NORTH WIND BLOWS
The door to the crawl space blows open when I go into the studio.
The studio never gets warm.
The fact that your car has broken down seems more tragic than inconvenient.
Pablo the parrot and the other birds are nervy. The cats are nervy. We are nervy.
You wish for a legend about this wind that would make it seem less like an assault-- both personal and impersonal—as if it is directed at you but by something that cares nothing about you.
LEGEND OF THE NORTH WIND
A cruel princess from the kingdom of used cars was walking one day and found herself in an arctic icy landscape where she had never been. She didn’t think much of it, except it interested her by being new.
When she saw the puffins, however, she became entranced and knelt down. One came to her readily because because puffins are curious and curiously unafraid. Well.
She gathered that puffin up into a metal fold of her skirt and returned to the kingdom of used cars where so many have come to grief and sanctified their belief in their own unluckiness.
Puffins, as you know, have a kind of group mind and rely on each other for everything. So this puffin that was separated was in a terrible condition. She experienced things puffins have never known before-- such as longing, prolonged and unassuageable, and fury—also prolonged.
Her longing and her fury continued until she became enormous-- knowing no bounds, in fact—and blind as well. She became the north wind. In that formless form she hurls herself with all the vague memory of icy cold and chopping chill. Never resting. But heading in the opposite direction of where she means to go.
Kittens born in late fall play with dead leaves that have emerged, pretending they are alive.
The parrot lifts the open door of his cage and drops it so it bounces and rattles.
Wasps come out and congregate on an empty plant-hanger hook.
I walk on the frozen crust of snow by the pond, naming the prints: coyote, raccoon, quail, cat.
The edge of the fountain patio with its inlaid bits of broken pots.
A Tupperware lid, mysteriously, in a flowerbed.
The top of the overturned yellow bucket stuffed with straw on the outdoor faucet.
THINGS THAT DECEIVE
Sunlight in February.
In my dream, a cafeteria with the dishes labeled in English but you must order them speaking Portuguese. My sister wants eggplant and I can’t remember the word for it.
A young chick walking.
The board on the henhouse path in mud season.
The porcelain cockatoo on the bookshelf when the dryer is running.