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Words with Friends

Words with Friends

I’m very excited to see this in the world: a book by some of my favorite friends, the photographers and saints Raymond Meeks and Adrianna Ault. My early quarantine was redeemed by the experience of working with Ray to come up with some words for this book; my late (middle? early, part 2?) quarantine is elevated by the experience of seeing those words tucked in among Ray’s radiant pictures. Forever grateful to have been a small part of this project.

At Home in my Body

At Home in my Body

(A collaboration with Google)

What we were talking about:

Lovers and geography
My tai chi instructor
My mother’s voice
Laughing without the slightest
awareness, over and over

a place we feel safe
a moving landscape

Then it all came apart,
this brief chance to be

the spark was lit in me
My skin is looser

no longer lost, I am very
comfortable with this.
I am haunted by the memory

The other stuff is just thinking
and stories

For the NYRB Daily

For the NYRB Daily

“We were all aware that there was a disaster brewing, or already afoot, but I hoped it would ask no more of the restaurant than any disaster does: simply that we stay open, tough it out, feed people, and let them feel normal for at least the duration of a meal.”

More here…

Through the Fence (1)

Through the Fence (1)

The fence at the back of our yard in Virginia had been pulled at for years by honeysuckle, and a gap had opened at one corner, so when we got bored with keeping track of the ghost runners in our backyard baseball game we would slip through the fence into the woods behind, which seemed, at the time, limitless, dangerous, and entirely ours.

Shaming Stag with Tea

Shaming Stag with Tea

(A collaboration with Google)

Old, white-hearted

In some cases overshadowed

Yellowing due to the field of this drug

Along with the bad weather.

I’m worried because it depends.

I am worried because it is.

Or no. I’m tired.

The tiredness of the body after illness.

I will open it up.

This a ribbon,

a white sugar buff

Tree neck, agriculture

Study period or stone

It’s a thing, so don’t worry

Change the tone, cook or upset.

There is a risk:

prosperity in daily life.

Gorgeous improvement

Or the failure of the win.

Fire fighting with fever.

O year of appetite with hangover

I missed my waist. I am tired easily.

Look, no body, heavy body, body

With physical resistance

I can, but I’m not

There may be, but not worry

Na na of course. Worry.

“Clear Night”

“Clear Night”

Clear night, thumb-top of moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and picked clean.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.

And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.

Charles Wright

Lent 1: Introduction

Lent 1: Introduction

Lent arrives with a familiar feeling of obligation, a feeling that tugs at me though I have no reason to acknowledge or honor it. If I have ever believed, it hasn’t been for a long time.

The word “Lent” is so simple, and I associate it so entirely with deprivation, abstinence, spiritual cleansing, that it hadn’t occurred to me until today to wonder where it came from. It’s a word that has come to seem almost onomatopoeic—an illusion generated perhaps by its rhyme with “repent,” or because it is such a gentle, fluttering, plaintive word, a tongue to the teeth, a wet leaf flicked by the wind. It seems a word designed for the use we give it now.

But “Lent” comes from an old English word for spring. It’s simply a designation of a season. Associating Lent with fasting, with Christ’s season in the wilderness, must grow out of an historical necessity. After the long winter, the storehouses are nearly empty but the ground is still too cold to replenish them. Spring—Lent—is a season of starvation, ironically butting up against the season of abundance and rebirth. Making a spiritual discipline of it is making a virtue of necessity.

New York is the first place I learned to understand how spring could be cruel. In the south, spring comes on fast and easy. Here it approaches and recedes, torturing the weather, tempting you to plant seeds, then crippling your sprouts with late frost. It’s also the first place I’ve lived where I saw regular people walking around on Ash Wednesday with ashy crosses on their foreheads. It came as a surprise to me, who’d grown up in the Christian south thinking of New York City as a wildlife preserve for pagans and atheists, to see this public demonstration of piety on the subway platforms. Perhaps the austerity of Lent is easier to embrace in a place like this, where spring isn’t a riot of flowers and sweet peas.

I’ve made symbolic (and secular) sacrifices for Lent in the past–I’ve given up meat, sugar, alcohol, sleep. This year I plan not to give something up but to meditate on something I lost long ago, think about a hunger I already feel.