Saturday, November 23, 2013

August Twilight

These are the big windows through which I can take pictures of turkeys, cranes and deer when we are in Michigan. The windows face south and toward what seems to be a sort of beltway that animals travel--moving away from the houses up on the road and past us toward the deeper wood.

Last night (when I should have gone to sleep) I started Kindling the most delicious book about how much fiction Steinbeck put into his "non-fiction" bestseller Travels With Charley. (Surprise! He was a novelist!) A reporter decided to repeat the trip near the 50th anniversary of the original drive. He was looking for something he might be able to sell after he lost his newspaper job. The other fun thing about the book (I am only through New England and Maine and briefly into Canada; or, the first part of the 10,000 mile trip, and nearest to the Country of My Childhood in upstate New York) is that the reporter, Bill Steigerwald, is a crusty old libertarian, who occasionally toots a libertarian rant, so the contrast with Steinbeck's Lefty Politics is funny. The parts of the East he has been driving through so far are still suffering from the economic changes America has been through in the last fifty years, as many kinds of work left our shores. He is a good reporter in that he gives lots of background and statistics on the localities he visits. He knows how to select a telling detail. The book is called Dogging Steinbeck.

I am also reading about Dorothy Wordsworth; my interest in her was rekindled by the Coleridge two-volume biography by Richard Holmes. I read about her death and final years (very sad: depression, dementia and ill-health) before turning back to the beginning of The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth by Frances Wilson. Many years ago, a good friend told me that she herself didn't WANT to be a writer, she was a reader. I'm thinking that is my case, too. I have really enjoyed jumping around in these different books.

Very cold tonight, frost crystals on everything, and we are burning the little gas fire in the fake logs. The three small dogs are snuggled up in front of the fireplace.

This, Too, One Kind of Voice

After, I meant to cover the window
against the mountain lying brightly
under the moon. Where clouds passed over them,
bodies of dark hovered underneath, trembling
to separate light from lack. That trembling is one kind
of voice that asks never to be forsaken.
The egret in a pond of the mountain
asks this, too: she tips back her head
and calls out a sound like the length of her throat.
Nothing she can hear answers, but weeds
shiver on the bank.

Jennifer Boyden in The Mouths of Grazing Things, Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2010, page 43. (This book won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry.)

I've never heard an egret call; I need to look into this. But the weeds knock me out! Sleep well; I may need to put on an extra blanket.

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