I'd hoped to post pictures of the South Fork Snowpocalypse, but all we had were a few wee flakes. And wind. Big wind. As I write, three red cardinals are hunkering down in the privet outside.
Meanwhile, from Baltimore, my brother Michael reports that 30 inches has already fallen, and it's still falling. He doesn't even think school will resume this week, given that another storm is coming up the coast on Tuesday. "I guess we'll have to decide soon when it will be time to eat our young for sustenance."
This might just be an appropriate moment to commemorate Michael's daughter, Jordan, and Tillie....
On or about Feburary 3rd every year, I've come down with something, and this year has been no exception. Maybe that's true for you too. We solider through January--the short days, the tossed off Christmas trees by the road--thinking, I'm fine. You're fine. This isn't a bad January, is it? We pay the bills. We meet our first classes of the semester, and out of nowhere the scalp gets hot, the eye sockets start to hurt. I'm on the mend today, though it wouldn't have hurt to have a little snow to look at, damn it.
The best thing about a couple of days on the couch is giving oneself over to books. I read two books on Wednesday, both in galleys, both by wonderful writers, Kathy Graber and Liza Wieland. I'm passing on these excerpts with hopes you'll buy and talk about their books-- The Eternal City and Quickening --when they're out later this year.
from The Eternal City
The Pythagoreans bid us in the morning look to the heavens
that we may be reminded of those bodies which continually
do the same things and in the same manner perform their
work, and also be reminded of their purity and nudity.
For there is no veil over a star.
Sweet field I cannot own: I stumble from the reeds into the wet bed
of the canal's brown muck. When the Starlight Ballroom burnt
a second time, tourists in folding chairs sat in the sand & cheered.
The pier was burning. My brother carried me on his back
up the fire escape of the Gilmore Hotel so that we could watch
from the roof, as though it were a celebration. The roller coaster
folded its thousand spindly knees. The carousel pitched its freight
of painted horses into the sea. I go & return, go & return,
like the tide's dereliction. With each pass more is missing,
amusements & men. The stars, having cloaked themselves
in the glare of day, are not the same each night. Somewhere--
even if we can't discern it--another has been born, another vanished.
Aurelius, the universe is less stable than you imagined.
What did you think it meant to turn from matter into light?
As a child, I thought that I could undo this--that I would one day
bring everything back. Time began as a black singularity,
but now only the moon's small gravity stirs the sea. Fourteen billion
years ago: a blip, then bang. I lie down in the salt hay. The vast
of the planet, as though it were eternal, churns against my back.
from "Some Churches"
I saw the baby's legs, in light green footed pajamas, dangling outside the window on 114th Street. Her mother's voice drifted down down to me from the second floor, a whisper with an edge, from cigarettes, bad air, hard living. I heard her, but I couldn't see her. My breath came out in little clouds that rose, opened, and came back to my face as tears.
"You take her," the mother called to me. "Right now. I can't stand it no more."
"All right, Nancy," I said. "I will. I will. Come down and let me in."
"Take her now. I ain't letting nobody in. Here."
I heard Nancy sigh, and then she let the baby go. I stood below, inside a still moment of falling, the horror of it like an echo, a baby in mid-air, a terrible, beautiful flight, divine, awful. Then suddenly, she was in my arms, ten pounds of flesh and bone, this child without wings. I was on the sidewalk with her--the force if her fall had driven me to my knees, my long coat open and bunching at my waist, folds of wool pressing on the baby's left side, pressing her to my belly. I held her there and I held myself. A child from heaven, a baby born out of a voice. People on the sidewalk stood a little ways off, respectful of what they didn't understand. A black man with snowy white hair broke from the knot of them and asked if he should call somebody. I told him no, that I would take her to a doctor, I would look after her. I felt powerfully that if anyone tried to take this child from me, I would kill him. I would die first. There was a great heat up along my spine and like an arrow to the top of my head. The world swam in my eyes. This man helped me to my feet and went on his way. I carried the baby down 114th Street, past my apartment, around the corner and into Our Lady of the Grotto. The baby was long and light, like a loaf of bread.