Letter on the elements of chanterelle: Addressed to the void.

Chanterelle

Chanterelle mushrooms from the woods by which I grew up.

I’ve never read a poem about chanterelle, though I feel I should have. They seem more like flowers than fungi. However, Best American poetry created a Recipe for Pied Beauty, and assigned chanterelle to finches’ wings. That seems like a poem in itself. Even if you don’t have all the ingredients for Pied beauty; they’re delicious with just a little olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary. 

Searching for their literary home, I discovered that Rousseau in his Letters on the elements of botany: Addressed to a lady claimed they sprout in fairy rings. (The original text may be found in its entirety at the above link, but I must credit to the OED with its discovery.) The history of botany/biology as the ladylike science is interesting, but more than I can cover here. All I will say that in Scotland they do not grow in rings, but are scattered like nails hammered in by a mad spirit.

 

OF MICE

At Disney 1 But what's so great about growing up?

I’m not sure if I’m a grown up yet. In elder-care, I’ll be stealing cookies, reading graphic novels, and hoping it’s my turn next with the robot seal. I suspect that most of us may feel that way.

If you’re in London consider taking Emily Harworth Booth’s comic class at the Princes’ Drawing School. Emily is a lovely teacher who gave us piles of comics to read, games to play, and still somehow managed to slip in a bunch of technical knowledge.

Totems for Travel

Souvenirs This little jar once contained onion jam. My mother bought it for me on our last day in Berlin. There was once a glass lid. But it broke the first day I opened the jam, smashing on my kitchen floor in the Midwest.

The jam was sweet, maple-y, and dark. I ate it off the end of a teaspoon and later with my fingers. Jam gone—I kept the jar to use as a painting cup and to remind me of the heavy buckets of tulips and the first fat birds of Berlin’s spring.

I recently moved. I donated: many books, a vacuum cleaner, a table, my bed, spoons, and sundresses. I threw away: shoes with broken heels and ends of ribbon. The jar was in the pile to go. At the last minute, I wrapped it in a pair of socks and took it with me.

Is this a sign of the hoarding that runs in my family? Perhaps. Will it break soon? Perhaps. But, I am glad to have carried it so far.

 

Eggs

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I think I read a poem once about a slotted spoon, or about the noise of those words. Slotted. Spoon. Eggs for lunch on a cold day and nothing to say about them. I am only happy they were so warm, and soft.

Changing

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-Photo taken in the Brooklyn Botanical gardens. Dried Ginkgo leaves that made it through the winter and freshly fallen petals.

It’s a cliche to talk about change in terms of seasons, so I won’t. Let it be said that I’ve been traveling for a long time. I moved away from home for the first time in the first year of the millennium. I was 11. My mother painted a trunk for me. She bought me a cassette player, because I’d have to sleep without a bed time story. Since then I’ve lived on three continents. I’ve lived alone and with roommates. One year, I followed the winter as I moved. That year, I never saw summer. I should be used to this, but I’m not.

The Rumpus recently posted this Merwin poem:

Separation 
 
Your absence has gone through me   
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
 
I’m trying to be grateful for all the many colored absences running through my life.
 

Rapunzel of the Appalachians

 

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Once upon a time, a very long time ago, a husband jumped across a wall because his wife had pregnancy cravings. She was craving this plant called rampion and he’d seen them growing bright and green in his neighbor’s garden. Unfortunately, the garden he jumped into was a witch’s garden. That witch took his baby girl as payment and named her Rapunzel after the rampion. You know the rest of this story.

I always imagined rampion as a sort of lettuce-y thing. But no! Rampion is sort of like a spring onion and sort of like garlic and it grows not only in Germany, but all through the Appalachians. Also, it is delicious, you can cook it in biscuits, add it to eggs, sprinkle it on popcorn. 

-Notes from West Virginian travels.

 

Montreal High and Low

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(Unknown graffiti artist & Peonies by Henri Fantin-Latour)

What do you do when you travel? Do you go for the air, the locals, to practice your french? When it is within my means, I like to eat and to see art. I’m quite bourgeois that way.

Isn’t it strange that the peonies are so small and modest and yet their frame is so grand? Fantin was friends with many of the impressionists but he himself remained conservative… steady. Was he afraid or did he just like the old style?

I was amused that he shared color values with this lovely couple whom I met on the street. Friends found in the oddest places.

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Snow Clouds

Snow Clouds

Winter’s Wind

O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
And the black elm tops ‘mong the freezing stars!
To thee the spring will be a harvest time.
O thou whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness, which thou feddest on
Night after night, when Phœbus was away!
To thee the spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge. I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge! I have none.
And yet the evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

– John Keats (1795-1821)

Oh Keats, how glad I am for you that you did not live in the midwest.

Persimmons

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Eating fruit and reading poetry, what could be a more decadent friday morning?

“Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,   
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times   
eyes closed. These I painted blind.   
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,   
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.”
 

The end of Persimmons, by LI-YOUNG LEE. You can read the rest of the poem here:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171753

{Photo credit to me.}

Marginalia : Native Speaker

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1. I was reading a library copy of Native Speaker. One my predecessors had bracketed a passage in which Henry is describing the reasons he loves his wife. The note asks, Why doesn’t he tell her this? It was probably just diligence, an annotation for an essay, one of many marginalia to be made and forgotten. But I like to imagine the midnight reader with her blunt pencil, and the cold tea, just despairing for him. Why doesn’t he tell her this? For a moment, holding my own warm tea I had an urge to tell everyone how sorely I love them.

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2. Skipping through the book to photograph it for this blog post, I noticed a comment I hadn’t seen before. A writer’s dream:
 
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3. Libraries are magical.