I wrote a postcard for myself a few days ago and received it in the mail today.
April 14, 2016
Sunny spring day in Seattle, walking downtown to the waterfront.
Golden hour at Pike Place Market. Colorful bunches of tulips, $10 per dozen. My favorites are the ones in shades of coral and the lightest pink.
A used bookstore, found an old copy of Persuasion with a blank postcard inside. In front, it says "This Day Will Never Happen Again." Of course, I had to buy it, nevermind that I already have 2 copies of this book at home.
Bus ride during rush hour, the sun shining so brightly, headphones on my ears, listening to a song in a language I don't understand. Well, I can pick out some words and their meaning - like "sarang", means love.
Two poems by Anna Ahkmatova, about reading Hamlet and another one about Pushkin.
It is indeed a special day. (Worth the last "Forever" stamp I carry inside my wallet.)
Here is a poem by Franz Wright that I've been thinking about for awhile now. I had just learned about his passing and it hit me really hard because his poetry was a huge part of my life at some point in time. I memorized some lines of this poem by heart, the ending is absolutely perfect.
The all-night convenience store's empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday's newspaper --
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It's unendurable, unendurable.
— Franz Wright, from God's Silence
Happy National Poetry Month, my friends.
It's so nice to be back here.
It has been exactly one year since my last post. I keep trying to decide what to do with this little space and in the end I realized that I do still want to keep it for now. And so I begin again.
Late autumn, I moved to Seattle. Life here is beautiful in so many unexpected ways. There is rain, of course, and sometimes it is so intense I forget how it was to live without it.
Then there are those days when I walk outside and I am stunned by the beauty surrounding me. The sun coming up brightly after days of heavy rain. Flowering trees that look like they belong in some fairytale. Walking through a moss-covered forest. Snowcapped mountains in the distance. How the sky and the water constantly changes with the light.
I am trying to capture all these in whatever way I can. A photograph, a poem, a couple of phrases in my grid-lined notebook. But most of the time, I just end of staring at the vast sky.
I guess that is one of the lessons I am learning now. To be okay with not doing anything. To let go of that need to document everything. To just be.
West Seattle after sunset, 3/17/16
Photos taken by me
I suppose the wind still blows
at ease across the sleeping face
of the village I fled all those years
ago, and some young man comes
down to the sea and murmurs a word,
his name, or God's, or a child's,
or maybe just the sea's. Let him
be wiser than I, let him fight back
the tears and taste only the sea's salt,
let him take what he can -
the trembling of his hands,
the silence before him, the slow
awakening of his eyes, the windows
of the town opening on first light,
the children starting suddenly
from their twisted sheets with a cry
of neither victory or defeat,
only the surprise of having come back,
to what no one promised, here and now.
-Philip Levine, excerpt from Here and Now
It's only fitting that I celebrate the start of April, and poetry month, with a poem by Philip Levine. The news of his death, over a month ago, really filled me with unexpected sorrow. His poetry have always touched me so deeply, and I plan to share some of them here, in his honor.
Photos were taken in Point Reyes National Seashore, October 2013. I found them again today and was reminded why I love the solitary headlands so much.
Happy April, my friends!
On Christmas Eve we traveled all the way to the northern coast of Mendocino County, it rained so hard and we were driving along windy roads through a redwood forest, the only way through. We were an odd and mismatched group, away from home, displaced in one way or another. Someone turned on the radio and Bing Crosby's White Christmas started to play, and I felt like I always do every time I'm about to visit somewhere far and new, excited and alive, ready to take on anything that will come my way.
In so many ways, 2014 has been one of the most exquisite and the most difficult moments of my life. I've had this ongoing inner ear problems that really flared up in late October, making me unable to go to work, or do much of anything really, my world literally off-balance and all I could do was take care of myself and go to through different tests and medical appointments.
When I'd wake up and start to feel dizzy again, or when I'm walking down the street and I'd lose my balance, I kept telling myself, one step at a time, just one step, and you will get there. And now, I know I've weathered through the roughest part of that storm, I keep going back these words by Rilke: “This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.”
And so it was, on Christmas Day, the winter sun was shining so bright, we walked amongst the ancient redwood trees and marveled at all that wildness and beauty. I would never have thought that was possible just a few weeks before, me standing on the edge of a coastal cliff, my feet sure and steady on the ground, my world starting to feel right again.
Here is a poem that I picked for the New Year. I wish you love and light, and small moments that make you feel alive and true. May you dream well, and be patient with yourself.
The Coming of Light
by Mark Strand
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.
All my love,