Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Weiser River Pillow Book #4
(Here’s the March installment in Eberle’s Weiser River Pillow Book series. In case you’ve missed the earlier installments, there are links to them in the left-hand frame. The first installment also has some background info. A note on the picture—yes, those are our guinea hens on our property. We were notorious in those days for the color of our outbuildings—take a guy who’d lived in California & a gal who’d lived in Brazil & that’s what happens. That building’s gone, however; where it stood is now our front room, kitchen & my office).
THIS IS EARLY SPRING
This is early spring—the harsh light that reveals the spots on the windowpanes, the streaks. Suddenly you notice that the ceiling is adrift with patches of cobwebs, soot, and feathered dust. Even the walls are encrusted with a faint lichen-like growth of grime you would never have noticed a week ago. And body-parts everywhere, from the slain pioneers of wasps and flies.
This small burst of horror is the last struggle against new life—this disbelief that verges on anger, this not-wanting to be tricked, this winter spirit that judges hope to be a corrupting luxury.
THINGS WORTH SEEING IN MARCH
The frantic happiness of guinea hens on the south-facing field when the snow first melts.
Geese flying north-- three vast V’s of them-- moving against the sky, shifting positions, shifting shape as cars on the highway slow and veer, watching them.
Buds on the currant bushes flushing red.
A light early morning snow and mist on Weird Hill, the moon in the southern sky.
A rock from Crystal Mountain in the zippered pocket of your purse.
Small bottles of shampoo from hotels.
A pleasing sexual encounter in a dream.
IT IS GOOD TO BE A DISSIDENT IN EARLY SPRING
It is good to be a dissident in early spring when there is no packageable beauty to trick the eye, none of the candy-hued flowers that are made use of to sell tissue paper and room deodorizers—it’s all raw power—not brutal like government, not showy like cars packaged to assuage the insecurities of the hopelessly wealthy—but quiet, enormous potentiality-- complex, with the inevitability of buds and stars: rain and mud. A giving-up of one’s consciousness for a moment to the gnarled branches of the locust, and returning, restored, to one’s own convictions.
The spring thaw.
THINGS THAT TRAP
The idea of success.
At home, red rhubarb uncurling, and yellow crocuses. On the edge of the highway, the fawn-colored carcass of a deer, flattened into the ground by snowmelt, and a fragment of blown-out tire emerging as glossy and black-purple as a crow.
On the window, a tiny ant crawling, and by the wild plum tree, the ant hill swarming again.
FULL CROW MOON
It’s the only time of year that there are crows in abundance here, though the next town to the north has them all spring and summer.
They appear at the same time that the willows suddenly glow their pale moon yellow.
Crows, like magpies, catch the attention as individuals. They can trick you. They don’t get hit by cars.
THINGS NEAR AND FAR
Stop light: 55 miles
Rice vinegar: 52 miles
Fast food: 75 miles
Hell’s Canyon: 75 miles
Mall: 120 miles
Airport: 120 miles
Rodeo: 14 miles
Lettuce: 12 miles
Gun club: 2 miles
Church: 2 miles
THINGS FALL APART
The wagon wheels set in metal frames to make gates.
The outbuildings leaning as the mud moves around them.
Plastic bits of the truck interior, detaching.
The cracks on the southeast corner of the house expanding, making homes for wasps.
A dress you’ve worn for two decades wearing through in spots—time is passing.
Friendships, too, can come apart in your hands.
When the red wine spills on the carpet, people say “Salt,” in unison and then do not move for a moment, as if it were an invocation.
How happy Medieval theorists of demons would be to have the computer graphics used to depict germs on commercials advertising cleansers.
FIRST SPRING RAIN
I am back at grade school in Illinois, a Latin class—RANA: FROG. It was raining outside and I used that to memorize the word. Then the sky cleared, becoming enormous, and I realized all at once, for the first time, that school was merely a building.
In Florida almost twenty years ago—I sat with Pablo the parrot on my shoulder then too, on a porch during a rainstorm. The storms back then were frequent, short, and furious. I remember undergoing jealousy and smashing empty beer bottles into the gutter. I live in the desert now, much calmer, with Pablo on my shoulder as I write these pages on the porch in the mornings.
The storms and porches of Ohio are still too laden with sadness to remember for more than a fraction of a second at a time.
Rain in Virginia was so much less real than my own thoughts that I don’t have a single clear memory of a storm. One time, actually, when lightning made unconnected wires meant for a television burst into brief flame between my lover and me, and I thought, yes, that expresses us perfectly.
My perspective seems to be changing so quickly—like a river that is wider but moving faster and faster, around the bend into the uncharted landscape of middle age. So broad and inviting at times—at others, the awareness through ripples on the surface, that the deadly rapids are hidden now, underwater rather than exposed.
Asymmetrical hats, with hatpins.
Plants with root systems exuding toxins which prevent other plants from growing.
Clamshells with paper flowers inside, unfolding underwater.
Using grade school and high school as a forcing ground for the dynamics of hierarchy.
McCall sewer worker: “After what the scientific cult of intelligence produced in the twentieth century, the only truly intelligent act that remains an option would be to say yes if an alien life-form wanted to have sex with you.”
THINGS THAT GLEAM
Lighted windows at night, seen from the highway across dark fields.
A small brass faucet, in moonlight.
A broken piece of china, half-buried in the spring that runs through the draw.
THINGS TO CONTEND WITH
Cattails taking over the pond.
My composition notebook, last year manufactured in Ohio, now identical but manufactured in Brazil.
Dandelions, first brought to this country as decorative plants by early settlers along with Puritanism.
One’s own body, seen in parts, looking down, or whole, in a mirror.
ACTIVITIES WITH NO DOUBT ATTACHED
Fencing in the spring.
Feeding the guinea hens.
Drinking tea on the porch and looking at the mountains.