01 June 2010

Angie Estes' poem Dark Spots

Dark Spots

In the late nineteenth century, some photographers
claimed not only to capture images
of loved ones from beyond
the grave, but to be able to photograph memories
of the deceased, their auras still glowing
around the bereaved,
as if to capture light reflected off a body could preserve
that body over time as Beatrice explains
the presence of the dark
spots on the moon to Dante in Paradiso, how
the brightness of a celestial body
reveals the angelic
gladness that quickens the body, letizia that shines as joy
shines through an eye. Visit Fort
Courage—Take Pictures
of the Past, the billboards across Arizona advised,
and at the base of the mountain in
New Mexico, a note taped
to the gasoline pump read, Hold tight to your money—the wind
will carry it away.
In the snapshot of
my grandmother in her
casket, wearing the Elizabethan collar and perm'd
curls she never wore, my mother
gazes through her
to a planet she always knew existed but which, without
the darkness, she could never see
before. They call
some bruises shiners like the violet stars of the Rose of Sharon
that come out in the morning and shine
all day in their leaf-black
shade, shade carved into the yard like fish scales covering
the sarcophagus in Sant'Apollinare in
Classe near Ravenna
or the stiff, veined hands of the sycamore stretched wide
in applause, the Italian gesture
of mourning.

Poetry Daily poem of the day June 1, 2010

24 March 2010

Excerpt from The Summer Book, Tove Jansson.

The family had long realized, without ever discussing it, that Eriksson didn't especially like fishing and hunting and motorboats. What he did like was harder to put your finger on, but perfectly understandable. His attention and his sudden wishes raced here and there across the water like ocean breezes, and he lived in a perpetual state of quiet excitement. The sea is always subject to unusual events; things drift in or run aground or shift in the night when the wind changes, and keeping track of all this takes experience, imagination, and unflagging watchfulness. It takes a good nose, to put it simply. The big events always take place far out in the skerries, and time is often of the essence. Only small things happen in among the islands, but these, too---the odd jobs that arise from the summer people---have to be dealt with. One of them wants a ship's mast mounted on his roof, and another one needs a rock weighing half a ton, and it has to be round. A person can find anything if he takes the time, that is, if he can afford to look. And while he's looking, he's free, and he finds things he never expected. Sometimes people are very predictable: they want a kitten in June, for example, and come the first of September they want someone to drown their cat. So someone does. But other times, people have dreams and want things they can keep.

Erikkson was the man who fulfilled these dreams. No one knew exactly what he found for himself along the way---probably a lot less than people thought. But he went on doing it anyway, perhaps for the sake of the search.

from The Summer Book, Tove Jansson,

Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.

10 January 2010

The future enters into us

Ruth, Danville, Virginia, 1968
photographer: Emmet Gowin

The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.
-Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet