I went to a poetry garden party yesterday. It was really, really, really, really nice to be among poets, especially poets who didn’t judge when I smashed my entire plate of food up against my white shirt.
I was wonce in a copse where we lived with no death
Trees stood together. The room never darkened.
– Laynie Browne
This incarnation of Evening Will Come, towards a discourse of conceptual poetry, is great. I’m still working my way through it.
I have just obtained a parking permit so that I can park in my own neighborhood, and I also just realized that I’ve kept this blog up for over 2 years. I missed that anniversary, completely. Looking back at my first blog post in 2012, I can tell you that I never built that coffee table, nor have I framed the broadsides. The coffee table’s a wash since we got one from IKEA, but I still plan on doing something with those broadsides. And! two years later, I’m still obsessed with houses and home and belonging and longing. At that point I didn’t know the house in Margate would fill with sand during the hurricane, or that I’d never go back there. I have three orchids now, and the descendent of that original wandering jew plant. I hardly got any tomatoes that summer, because of the heat and blossom end rot. I didn’t know the tree behind my house would get hit by lightning. I also remember, very clearly, counting up my mosquito bites that summer and hitting 72, but according to my own blog, I never did that, so, memory is faulty I guess.
I started writing here for a few different reasons, one of which was to force myself to be a more honest and open writer (and maybe a more honest and open person). Doors of New Jersey is the second most honest and open thing I’ve ever done, and this blog is probably the first. Happy two years, blog.
Getting up early to write has been hard, less so the waking up than the actual writing. I need more runway time. But the cat has been noticeably less demonstrative in his affections since I started working full-time, hardly ever climbs into my lap and stays there. Early in the morning is the best time—he’s in my lap right now—so for that I’ll keep trying.
B and I finally made it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday, along with everyone else in town who wanted to go for free for First Sunday. It was crowded and somehow it felt like a hero’s journey to get there and back, but I’m glad we did. Some pieces, like the giant Chagall ballet backdrop, I remembered. Some pathways through the contemporary collection, some sculptures I had passed when I was shorter, following somebody else around. I loved a painting by Roberto Matta, The Bachelors Twenty Years Later, and then we walked over to Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, and then the last, Étant donnés, laid bare behind a wooden door. All these questions about experiencing a museum space, moving from art to art, I the viewer / the digester / the reader / the meaning-maker, and the artist points to me / the artist / in my looking and looks back through the glass / the door / the slash mark.
Then we found a room I didn’t remember, Fifty Days At Iliam, a Homeric narrative stretched on canvas in long crayon lines. Was it at the museum when I was young? I don’t remember. I stared at The Fire That Consumes All Before It for a long time. That depth of red. It made me think of my Bubbe, and I no longer care if it makes me a cheesy person to continue writing and thinking and talking about my dead grandmother. She was the person I followed through the museum space. I was very sad in that room, and that’s the truth. Did she love that painting? I don’t know.
I can tell the story about how she set me going as a writer, how she made me love art, and those are true stories. But I realized yesterday that part of my sadness is that she died before I ever got to have real conversations with her about art. That’s the door I keep peering through.
I had two poems in the Nashville Review that went live yesterday, “Missives” and “A Remnant,” and they are both from Doors of New Jersey. That’s the whole book, doors / I keep peering through / pressed / as though they could open.