Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In Garden Beds

This is the time of year when the stiff, sharp, green iris spears appear and lengthen, 
when the lawn still really doesn't look like much. Anticipation of blossoming iris, 
which is one of the best features of our Idaho yard, grows, too.
Here is one of the blue ones that grow down by the canal. 
It reminds S of the ones that grew in Bear Lake Valley when he was a child.
Many of the these were covered over when the work on the canal right of way was done.
Still, there are a few left and I am looking forward to their cheerful brightness!

                       After Georg Trakl

A pallid cuckoo calls in a loop
more insistently as afternoon fades.

In garden beds humid air
clings to the stalks of poppies.

Mosquitoes rise from layers
of leaves under grapevines.

A blue shirt sticks to your back
as you climb the ladder.

Thunder rattles a fishing boat's
canopy in the dry dock.

The storm silences crickets
chirruping under the mangroves.

Turbulence has passed.
A candle lights our dark room.

Outside calm, a starless night--
then the flame is extinguished,

pinched between a finger
and thumb. In the eaves, at nest,

swallows rustle. You believe
the swallows glow in the dark.

Light daubs our skin with shapes--
the crushed petals of red poppies.

Robert Adamson

Net Needle, Flood Editions, Chicago, 2015, pages 2-3.

Robert Adamson is a poet that is new to me, I think if I had lived in Australia, I would have known aboout his before this, as he has won many prizes and much recognition there. This poem, moving from outdoors to indoors, is nicely arranged in two-line stanzas. No sentence runs over into the next one; each two lines ends with a period. I think it is a fine blend of the natural world, the work world and the interpersonal world. And when I finish here, I will go into the other room looking for the Trakl.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Painting the Barn

Courtesy of the redoubtable Brownie Reflex Synchro Model (Introduced to the trade in May, 1940 and still available on EBay!) these slices of the past were saved for your delectation. Looks like my brother Robert is doing the painting and David is watching from the haymow door.
 Here, Robert had moved to another board, but David is still just watching,
You can see the lovely deckled edge that was part of our photofinishing then.

Painting the Barn

The ghost of my good dog, Alice, 
sits at the foot of my ladder,
looking up, now and then touching
the bottom rung with her paw.
Even a spirit dog can't climb
an extension ladder and so,
with my scraper, bucket and brush,
I am up here alone, hanging on
with one hand in the autumn wind,
high over the earth that Alice
knew so well, every last inch,
and there she sits, whimpering
in just the way the chilly wind
whines under the tin of the roof--
sweet Alice, dear Alice, good Alice,
waiting for me to come down.

Ted Kooser

Splitting an Order, Copper Canyon Press, 2014, page 70.

I found this poem last night and could not resist posting these pictures tonight, The poem makes a good model for combining a memory with the present time when you have set your self the task of making such a poem.
And it looks like Marjory got in on this, too, but dropped out. Her ladder 
is still standing in the other photos, but not much more is painted.
We moved to The Farm in the summer of 1950 when Marji was a toddling infant, 
so these pictures were taken in the mid-fifties. I left home in 1953, 
but before that I had painting the metal roof of the farmhouse 
and the entire back of the new wood on the house addition. 
(One coat linseed oil, then two coats of white paint.) 
My $1.00 per hour accumulated in the bank, so I had some cash to take to college.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The dream, like a minnow

Surely it must be time for wood ducks again, like these
from the late autumn just past.
They gathered under the willow 
and often arranged themselves like this,
facing in opposite directions.


How heavy it is, this bucket
drawn out of the lake of sleep
with a dream spilling over,
so heavy that on some mornings
you can’t quite pull it free
so let it slip back under,
back into the darkness where
the water is warm, even warmer,
but the dream, like a minnow,
has swum away and is merely
a flash in the murky distance,
and the weight of waking up
seems even heavier. But somehow
you lift it again, its handle
biting into your fingers,
and haul it out and set it down
still rippling, a weighty thing
like life itself, in which you dip
the leaky cup of your hands
and drink.

Ted Kooser
Splitting an Order, Copper Canyon Press, 2014, page 72

I went through this wonderful short book again tonight and wound up reading several poems aloud. This is the kind of elegant, unthreatening small book that would make an ideal gift for many sorts of people, perhaps most especially those like me who remember the zinc lids on canning jars! Or those like my daughter who taught herself to plow with a horse! I have marked a bunch more Kooser to offer on this blog from time to time!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A visit near the Pacific

Long, long ago, at the end of another century, my brother Dave 
and his wife Peggy brought Mom to California for a visit and
we all went up to youngest sister Marjory's place near Mendocino. 
Here we were looking out over the ocean and I looked back at them! 
I have always liked this picture of Peggy, who is a person 
who really knows how to create good fun wherever she is. 
My Mom loved this trip! 
I also like the way the light comes through the trees
in the background; it is very "California" and reminds me 
of woodcuts done by Western artists early in the 20th century.

Swinging from Parents

The child walks between her father and mother, 
holding their hands.She makes the shape of the
at the end of infancy, and lifts her feet 
the way the y pulls up its feet, and swings 
like the v in love, between an o and an e
who are strong and steady and as far as she knows
will be there to swing from forever. Sometimes 
her father, using his free hand, points to something 
and says its name, the way the arm of the
points into the future at the end of father.
Or the r at the end of forever. It’s that forever 
the child puts her trust in, lifting her knees, 
swinging her feet out over the world.

Ted Kooser
Splitting an Order, Copper Canyon Press, 2014, page 12.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Taking a Stance

Last night's post showed my father holding a baby in his arms in front 
of the houses on First Street in Scotia, where first our family grew.
That baby was my brother, Richard. Here, we have moved to the farm
and he demonstrates his sparring stance.
This picture is also very interesting to me because of the furniture 
I can see in it; my mother went to lots of farm sales for furniture. 
The large cabinet below the bellows hanging on the wall 
is a Victorian design called a Bonnetiere, because of the space
behind double doors at the top, where ladies could store their bonnets.
My father refinished this to the natural wood color; my brother Dave has it now.
Atop the Bonnetiere is a washbowl with a brown design, which
we later used in the front hall in Shaker Heights for incoming mail.
Robert wrote a poem about that called The Mail Bowl, which I must look for.
The heavy mahogany piece with the square mirror was cut in half by Dad. 
We hung the mirror in the hall, and kept boots and rubbers under the lid of the seat. 
My niece, Bethany, has it now, I think. 
Later, my father lifted the wide-sawn floorboards under Richard's feet. 
They were fastened with antique square-headed nails, which Mom made him save 
and straighten and use again on the floorboards, which he re-installed 
with the hundred-year-old boards turned over, unused side up.

Richard was the one of us who learned to play the piano well, 
although Susan did master Fir Elise. I have just learned that Tomas Transtromer,
one of my all-time favorite poets, has passed away. When a stroke robbed him of speech,
he gave his Nobel Prize lecture by playing music written for the left hand.


The silent rage scribbles on the wall inward.
Fruit trees in blossom, the cuckoo calls.
It's spring's narcosis, but the silent rage
paints its slogans backward in the garages.

We see all and nothing, but straight as periscopes
wielded by the underground's shy crew.
It's the war of the minutes. The blazing sun
stands above the hospital, sufferings's parking place.

We living nails hammered down in society!
One day we shall loosen from everything.
We shall feel death's air under our wings
and become milder and wilder than we ever were.

Tomas Transtromer

translated by Robin Fulton
The Great Enigma, New Directions, 2006, page 187.

Amazingly enough, this poem turns out to have both death and nails (probably not hand-forged ones) in it--after I picked it out.
Such are the things that happen when one plays with words. 
Look for Transtromer's poems, they are world-class!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hopper Family: the first four

This picture was taken about 1943. I think we posed here because we just bought the house that doesn't show to the left of the photo. The house we lived in since I was a baby is shown behind us; we rented the flat on the lower floor for $35 per month. (David found this out recently when they released the 1940 US Census.) The house we are buying (you can see just a bit of its stone retaining wall, which Dad will take down so Mom can plant a rock garden on the slope) costs $6000. My parents have been warned that they will never manage to pay for such an expensive house. Here is what they got: A two-apartment house with front porch, with a basement and attic on four city lots, which run through to Second street. Mature maple trees, rhododendrons, lilacs, daffodils, apple tree, Queen Anne cherry tree, garage, a row of four or five rental garages ($5 per month) When we sold it to move to the farm in 1950, we got $11,000. We have thrashed some things, like the upstairs apartment when the boys began to living in it. (Dad took out the stove, but the rest of the kitchen was still the same.) And Dad rewired the whole house. So there!
I am standing between my parents, Dad is holding baby Richard, 
and Susan and John are standing in front. There are three children still to come. Stay tuned.
When I looked up this house on Google Earth, the retaining wall had been rebuilt.


Every spring
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
            I am grateful.

Then, by the end of morning,
he's gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.

Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings, Penguin Group, 2012, page 62.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Four Brothers, with boutonnieres

Left to right: Richard Butler Hopper, Robert William Hopper,
David Wendell Hopper, John Douglas Hopper.
Photo by famly friend Burns Hansen.

You can see that only John (born 1941) has escaped my father's neat-and-clean buzz cuts. Richard (1943) demonstrates how he has always been at ease in any situation and happy about that! Robert (1945) is looking at you shyly and wants to be your friend. David is jolly and probably That's a scab on his arm, as he was often wounded. And John, as the oldest, and a charmer, is probably up for anything!


Time--the lizard in the sunlight. It doesn't move, but its eyes are wide open. They love to gaze into our faces and hearken to our discourse.

     It's because the very first men were lizards. If you don't believe me, go grab one by the tail and see it come right off.

Charles Simic
The World Doesn't End; Prose Poems, 
Harcourt, Brace, 1990. page 75.

This is from a little book by Charles Simic that impresses me more and more. Reading these pieces quite makes my brain ringgggg.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In Green Meadows

I've told you before that a baby goat will improve almost any day!
This is my grandson, Trey, with the black goat with white ears, 
a beauty they had a couple of dozen years ago.

How oft in school-boy days

How oft in schoolboy-days, from the school’s sway
Have I run forth to Nature as to a friend,—
With some pretext of o’erwrought sight, to spend
My school-time in green meadows far away!
Careless of summoning bell, or clocks that strike,
I marked with flowers the minutes of my day:
For still the eye that shrank from hated hours,
Dazzled with decimal and dividend,
Knew each bleached alder-root that plashed across
The bubbling brook, and every mass of moss;
Could tell the month, too, by the vervain-spike,—
How far the ring of purple tiny flowers
Had climbed; just starting, may-be, with the May,
Half-light, or tapering off at Summer’s end.

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821-1873)
The Oxford Book of American Poetry; edited by David Lehman,
Oxford University Press

Tuckerman published only one book of sonnets. It was not successful, and he did not publish another. His work was rediscovered much later. His work has been championed by Yvor Winters as being second only to Whitman in the description of natural detail .Four of these sonnets are included in this Oxford Book; I like them all and had trouble deciding which one to use. Have you ever tried writing a sonnet? I've been afraid.

Monday, March 23, 2015

As Now We See Them

My father, Jack Hicks Hopper, with his older sister, Mary Lillian. This picture was probably taken when their aunt took them back from New Mexico (where my grandfather had moved his family in hopes that it would help his weak lungs) to Arkansas to visit other relatives. I visited my father in January of 1987 (he died in April of the same year) and during a long slow, quiet afternoon, he told me many stories. One of them was about this train trip: he was in the restroom when the train stopped at a station. To keep people from hiding there and riding for free, the restrooms were automatically locked by the conductor as the train pulled into a station. Dad still remembered his terror when he found he could not get back to the others; because of the noise of the station, no one heard him yelling. It was quite some time until he was freed. He still remembered the terrible fear more than seventy years later.
Winter Landscape

The three men coming down the winter hill
In brown, with tall poles and a pack of hounds
At heel, through the arrangement of the trees,
Past the five figures at the burning straw,
Returning cold and silent to their town,

Returning to the drifted snow, the rink
Lively with children, to the older men,
The long companions they can never reach,
The blue light, men with ladders, by the church
The sledge and shadow in the twilit street,

Are not aware that in the sandy time
To come, the evil waste of history
Outstretched, they will be seen upon the brow
Of that same hill: when all their company
Will have been irrecoverably lost,

These men, this particular three in brown
Witnessed by birds will keep the scene and say
By their configuration with the trees,
The small bridge, the red houses and the fire,
What place, what time, what morning occasion

Sent them into the wood, a pack of hounds
At heel and the tall poles upon their shoulders,
Thence to return as now we see them and
Ankle-deep in snow down the winter hill
Descend, while three birds watch and the fourth flies.

John Berryman
Oxford Book of American Poetry, Oxford Univ. Press, page 603-4.

Five five-line stanzas is a good size for a poem. This is enough room to tell a story with lively details and to expound on the meaning of this line of thought for the poet. While there is no strict rhyme scheme, there are traces of it in some of the end words. The phrase "the evil waste of history" covers a lot of territory. Your task: find a painting and tell its story and move out from there / / /

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Nothing improves a party like a baby goat! This one came to the celebration 
for my grandson Tanner's high school graduation. And was greeted with joy
by the red-haired girl from next door. Everybody petted the goat, and 
it was a fine feature of the party!

At a Kitchen Table

Not a flock of stories
not usually,
but a few that arrive at dusk,
in pairs, quietly
creating themselves
in the feathery light.
And rarely with fancy plumage
of blue or green and red
but plain, as of clay or wood,
with a plain little song.
Theirs are the open wings
we light our table by.

Ted Kooser
Splitting an Order, Copper Canyon Press, 2014, page 55.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let's talk about the old days

This is my father, Jack Hicks Hopper (born 1906) and his baby sister,
Marjory Lynn Hopper (born 1910.) Dad blinked a little during the exposure.
I love what I can see of his side-buttoned striped shirt.
I love her open fresh look. She died young, at age 40,
of breast cancer. Since she lived in Arizona and we lived in upstate New York, 
I never knew her well; my father kept her grown-up portrait on his dresser always.
She wore her hair atop her head in a braided crown.
Family photographs like these are inestimable treasures.

Lime blossoms!
let's talk about the old days
making dinner in the kitchen.

translated by Robert Hass

Friday, March 20, 2015

Last slide on the roll of film

Memory Thread: summer of 1953. I caught my love of photography from my mother, here in blue dress using the 8mm movie camera that documented out family life for many years. Check out the waistline of the mother of seven children, the youngest one now five. We are at The Farm outside Schenectady near Grooms Corners, New York.I am wearing my favorite pink skirt (I made a navy blue one from the same kind of fabric, but I wore the pink one much more.) I cannot be sure what camera I am holding, it doesn't look quite like the Brownie Reflex and the Contessa (which we may not have had yet) would be held up to my eye. My lilttle cousin, Susan June Peters (Scollick) is twirling in her red sneakers. Her mother is my mother's sister, Hazel; their family is visiting us from California. Without film, without photography, I wouldn't remember much of this day more than sixty years ago! Or that this is what happens when you reach the end of the 24 or 36 exposures and keep on shooting!
Just today I read about what the remnant of the Kodak Company is doing to make a niche for iteself in a filmless world. Their film, slide, 8mm movie, and black and white 120 roll film was very important in preserving the history of the family I came from. I'm thankful.

Tonight I wan't to share the haiku that Buson wrote as he was dying. 
He was thinking back to a great poet, Wang Wei, who lived many years before.
And about the way, things go on, change, and also stay the same.

Winter warbler--
long ago in Wang Wei's
hedge also
translated by Robert Hass

Thursday, March 19, 2015

All Things

A deep bow, and a loud call! I liked the curves of the gulls
with the curve of the building. I thought they would fly
before I got the picture and then one bowed!

Train Ride

All things come to an end;
small calves in Arkansas,
the bend of the muddy river.
Do all things come to an end?
No, they go on forever.
They go on forever, the swamp,
the vine-choked cypress, the oaks
rattling last year's leaves,
the thump of the rails, the kite,
the still white stilted heron.
All things come to an end,
the red clay bank, the spread hawk,
the bodies riding this train,
the stalled truck, pale sunlight, the talk,
the talk goes on forever,
the wide dry field of geese,
a man stopped near his porch, 
to watch. Release, release;
between cold death and a fever,
send what you will, I will listen.
All things come to an end.
No they go on forever.

Ruth Stone (1915-2011)
The Oxford Book of American Poetry
edited by David Lehman, page 623.

Do read this short article in Wikipedia about Ruth Stone.
This fine poem has a train-like rhythm and makes excellent use of repetition.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Young Dancers of Memory

This was taken a half-a-dozen years ago, but it seems just a short time;
my grandgirl and her friend, Emily, with the bangs, were just the right age for pink tutus!

first day of spring
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn

translated by Robert Hass

The great haiku poet, Basho, often demonstrates how a poem as short as a haiku
can carry such a freight of longing. I think it is too late for me 
to start learning old-style Japanese, with the old-fashioned characters,
or to begin wandering the earth in a robe and straw sandals, but . . .

this autumn--
why am I growing old
bird disappearing among clouds

translated by Robert Hass

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

As you come over the hill

 We have been driving across the USA foe many years now. 
It always makes me think about all the other lives of people I haven't met. 
Both these photos were taken from our car-in-motion last October,

As You Come Over the Hill

You’ll see cows grazing in a field
And perhaps a chicken or a turtle
Crossing the road in their sweet time,
And a small lake where a boy once
Threw a girl in who couldn’t swim,

And many large maple and oak trees
Offering ample shade to lie in,
Their branches to hang yourself from,
Should you so desire,
Some lazy afternoon or evening

When something tells the birds to hush,
And the one streetlight in the village
To keep a few moths company
And the large old house put up for sale
With some of its windows broken.

Charles Simic
New York Review of Books, May 9, 2013

This is a simple form of three five-line stanzas--almost like taking pictures out the car window. Of course, Simic being Simic, the poet managed to get a contemplated hanging in there. What poems can still be found in your old neighborhoods?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Red Earth, with Crows

 On a day in summer, we stopped at one of my favorite places on the Red Earth, 
the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands. 
These trips across the country always make me think about my wide American land.


My house is the red earth; it could be the center of the world. I've heard New York, Paris, or Tokyo called the center of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble. You could drive by and miss it. Radio waves can obscure it. Words cannot construct it, for there are some sounds left to sacred wordless form. For instance, that fool crow, picking through trash near the corral, understands the center of the world as greasy scraps of fat. Just ask him. He doesn't have to say that the earth has turned scarlet through fierce belief, after centuries of heartbreak and laughter--he perches on the blue bowl of the sky, and laughs. If you look with the mind of the swirling earth near Shiprock you become the land, beautiful. And understand how three crows at the edge of the highway, laughing, become three crows at the edge of the world, laughing. Don't bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It's a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.
Joy Harjo 

Three untitled prose poems from Secrets from the Center of the World, 1989.
Later combined in one song on her CD, Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century, 1997.

Again, I found this poem tonight while I was looking for something else: a poem of Charles Simic's that has a motorcycle in it. I know . . .

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Least Sandpiper in Captivity

There he was, in the shorebird exhibit in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 
so many years ago now, wearing his tiny unique ankle bracelet 
which separates him from all the other sandpipers in the known world,
and walking around on his small patch of sand-brought-indoors. 
If I had met him on the beach, he would fast have flown, 
but he and his companion willet and friend godwit were used to us gawkers. 
As I age, I am growing much less comfortable with these living exhibits. 
Then I remember the time a monkey threw a small piece of dung 
at my father-in-law when we all took to kids to the zoo.
He told the story many times over. almost choking with laughter.
On Facebook, many people post videos of animals tame and wild;
sometimes they figure out ways to make them do silly things 
they think are funny. Sometimes, they are. So are people.
By the time we have learned how to live and how we think we ought to live,
our time for living is almost used up.

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

William Stafford

The Oxford Book of American Poetry, edited by David Lehman, 
Oxford University Press, 2006, page 619.

William Stafford thought about how to live a great deal more than many of us do. 
That may be why his straightforward poems are among my very favorites.

Water, Sand and Stone

Sometimes it is important to look down.
This was on the beach of my beloved Monterey Bay.


We fished up the Atlantic Cable one day between the Barbadoes and the Tortugas, 
held up our lanterns 
and put some rubber over the wound in its back, 
latitude 15 degrees north, longitude 61 degrees west. 
When we laid our ear down to the gnawed place 
we could hear something humming inside the cable. 

"It's some millionaires in Montreal and St John 
talking over the price of Cuban sugar, and ways to
reduce our wages", one of us said. 

For a long time we stood there thinking, in a circle of lanterns, 
we're all patient cable fishermen, 
then we let the coated cable fall back 
to its place in the sea. 

Harry Edmund Martinson

Translated from the Swedish by Robert Bly

Sometimes it pays to look around, also. The life story of Harry Martinson, whom I had not noticed before I found him in the book of Robert Bly's translations, The Winged Energy of Delight (available on Kindle) is fascinating and very sad. After the death of his parents, he became a foster child. There's a word for that in Swedish, Kommunalbarn! He was awarded the Nobel Prize jointly with another person who was on the awards committee, as he was. Others considered that year were Graham Greene, Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov; the choice was controversial. He was born in 1904, and thus belonged to the generation of my parents. He accomplished his suicide in 1978 with a pair of scissors. I like his poems in the Bly book very much and have ordered what is available in translation. His gravestone can be seen at Findagrave.com.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Trade $ecrets

I took this quite some time back (and I still love it!) 
so the phone number may not work any more; but that's OK, too. 
I was very glad we had stopped at a light, so I could preserve this!
This millionaire needs a timely tip or two about professional signage.

Here is a haiku from Issa:

    Approaching my village:
               Don't know about the people,
     but all the scarecrows
              are crooked.

The essential Haiku; versions of Basho, Buson and Issa;
edited by Robert Hass, Ecco, 1994, page 162.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I have been photographing ducks again, this is the rare Resplendent Orange Footas seen 
eating stale bread in nearly every pond in the USA. This one has cracked corn in his crop!

My apologies! I took a necessary few days rest from blogging, and when I should have come back I was enjoying the holiday, so I took a few more days off. Now I'm back. The only person who noticed said she managed by reading old posts, of which there are plenty!

The book I am most pleased with in the last week or two is:
American Childhood by Annie Dillard.

"When you open a book," the sentimental library posters said, "anything can happen." This was so. A book of fiction was a bomb. It was a land mine you wanted to go off. You wanted it to blow your whole day. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of books were duds. They had been rusting out of everyone's way for so long that they no longer worked. There was no way to distinguish the duds from the live mines, except to throw yourself at them headlong, one by one.

Annie Dillard
American Childhood, Harper & Row, 2013, page 83.

I have been paying special attention to Annie Dillard, ever since my youngest brother, Robert, had such a strong positive reaction to her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I wasn't that thrilled at the time, but now, since Robert's death in 1997, anything I remember is extra-special to me. In the book I am currently reading (above) I invite you to pay special attention to the way she formed herself by reading and following the instructions in the classic by Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw, which she borrowed from a neighbor (and which contains very stringent and specific instructions for daily practice, which Annie followed) and by revisiting for years (both by borrowing it from the library, and just by visiting and loving it in the library itself) The Field Book of Ponds and Streams; an introduction to the life of Water, 1930, Ann Haven Morgan, an obscure-even-then old-fashioned nature guide. Both books aroused in her passions that she later followed in life.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Castle by the Lake

This is Logan again, and the fortified sandcastle his family had just constructed
beside Pickerel Lake on their visit in 2013.


To drowse away the summer on a lake
To feel the limitations of the lake
To count the lake's two colors
To feel that something is wrong with the lake
I really like the lake, said the woman next door
You push a lake out of the way, but it comes right back
A lake could mean the end of chaos
A lake swallows itself every night
I like this lake, too, I said to the woman next door
There once was a lake with only one wave
Fifty young men were staring into the lake
If you speak to the lake, you must ask yourself why
To test the true material of the lake
To dip the oars of sleep into the surface of the lake
To feel the lake give birth for words for itself
A lake could fall into the wrong hands
Even an artificial lake needs real water
Oh, the lake is beautiful, and meaningless, and I love it
What lake is that you're talking about
Is it the way a lake looks or how it feels that matters
No lake at all--I;m bad at remembering lakes
In that respect a lake is like a chair
The lake was full of stars, the moon, the tops of trees
Someone was playing a trombone across the lake
On this side of the lake a silence was building up

Mark Strand
Chicken, Shadow, Moon & more, 
Turtle point Press, 2000, pages 85-87.

The late Mark Strand was a favorite poet of mine; this is an entrancing small book which would make a great gift! An interesting task would be to to make a series of poems which each begin with one line of this poem.