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Archive for December, 2008

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The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there’s a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.

I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

I,I
Rilke’s Book of Hours
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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This afternoon, snowshoeing with my dear friend Sunny. A spectacular day–the rich winter air, late afternoon light, silence of snow.

LUTE MUSIC

The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—

Here at the year’s end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

– KENNETH REXROTH –

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Lately we gone from rain to ice; from tropic to frigid…over night or in an afternoon. The wind kicks up–warm and soft…gathering the last leaves, colored coins, and scatters them on ponds and puddles that freeze and thaw. Winter has a softer palette. Pale wheat, burnt umber, the cedar green, long angled afternoon light. Mornings are pink before the gray clouds gather. The cold, when it arrives, penetrates–needle sharp; takes my breath away. Right now, snow–a glittering gift from the night sky.

It’s cookie time. The first batches of pecan puffs and shortbread are cooling. Sara calls from LA and I answer, “Cookie Central.” She says, “Perfect. I was just thinking about trying my hand at a small batch…the easy ones, please…I’ll need a cookie coach for the sandtarts!” Generations of women on the Keithline side  have made these cookies. My mother and her two sisters and her mother and her grandmother kneaded the shortbread dough for twenty minutes (the handwritten recipe says, “no cheating”) and then passed judgement on whether the cookies were light enough. These same women struggled to roll sandtart dough paper thin (I mean paper thin!). I like to make cookies late at night with Christmas carols blaring and candles blazing. The house smells warm and buttery. I can’t wait until Dashiell is old enough to have a little Gold Metal Bleached Pre-Sifted Flour, butter and sugar! Christmas just isn’t Christmas without cookies.

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JUST THIS

When I think of the patience I have had
back in the dark before I remember
or knew it was night until the light came
all at once at the speed it was born to
with all the time in the world to fly through
not concerned about ever arriving
and then the gathering of the first stars
unhurried in their flowering spaces
and far into the story the planets
cooling slowly and the ages of rain
then the seas starting to bear memory
the gaze of the first cell at its waking
how did this haste begin this little time
at any time this reading by lightning
scarcely a word this nothing this heaven

– W.S. MERWIN –

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