Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Day and Night

In the interest of demonstrating some aspects of the creative process, and using my own writing as guinea pig, or lab rat, this morning I gathered several fragments written in two different journals over the past two or three days, including some of my previous post here, and turned them into a new haibun piece. This is still a work in progress: I expect to revise it over the next few days; probably trim some chaff in spots, with better words in other spots; maybe a better title; et cetera. You have to sit with something awhile, or go away and come back later, to get clarity about it as a piece of writing.

This is how one might choose to practice writerly recycling, and revision, and the gathering of fragments into a more coherent whole. Perhaps it also demonstrates the principal of reading back through what you've loosely written over the past few days, and finding a common thread among the scattered pieces, to pull them all together to make something more like an actual artwork, rather than a journal entry. Hopefully this haibun will therefore, even in its unfinished state, reveal something about the creative process.

I've been losing time
visions overlay the world
interlocking wheels

Time falls around my ankles, a discarded robe before one steps into the bath, warmed by living flesh, soon to chill. Whole days wash off, slosh down the drain. A week suddenly gone, and nothing happened: or, everything happened, and you could not record it all. The recording angel naps those days when acedia rises in the east, the bloody and demanding sun. Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning. I'm going to wash these blues right out of my hair.

Snow late last night, coating the gray world with white. I watched it fall in that perfect silence that new snowfall brings to the world, as blessing. Juncos, round slate-blue birds, come this morning to sit on the deck railings, kicking up tufts as they land and take off again. The live-in cardinal couple is brilliant against the white land, the male a moving laser-dot of bright red against a black and white background. The chokecherry tree will still produce its small sable berries over winter, and the birds will gather in its branches, come January, gorging themselves, and stooping down to pick through the snow under the tree for more fallen fruits.

Already melting. The sun coming out, fitfully, streaks of blue between the clouds. A few more light flakes falling, here and there, just particles of air-borne dry flakes. I worry, when I can’t find my gratitudes, even a poor and starving minimal thanks for being still alive. That temporary and conditional existence universally terminated in a face-on meeting with entropy.

Meister Eckhart:
If the only prayer
you ever said was "Thank you"—
that would suffice.

More lost time: Driving home after dinner in another town, the clouds thin and crumpled, an almost-full moon hangs high overhead. I think to myself, When did you get to be full again, moon? Then I realized, I hadn’t seen him for weeks, between illness and exhaustion, and all the lately cloudy weather. Suddenly the moon's eye was almost round again, silver behind mottled veils.

moonlight and starlight
on snow-draped fields near town:
black winter berries

I sit awhile at midnight, in the armchair with my heaviest quilt draped over, staring at the fire burning in the fireplace, no lights on, thinking. Moonlight on the snow outside makes a silver light, and a few stars peek through bare trees. The cold clear night both dark and light. The room is silent except for the sounds of the fire. I feel myself approach silence within. Nothing moves but the flames. The black lines of treeshadows on the white snow are arteries, rivers, tunnels between now and some deeper place.

snowlight firelight moonlight
candelight sunlight night that made us—
receive us all at the end

Lost time. Most kinds of freedom come with boundaries built in; the genuinely free mind doesn’t bind time the usual way, or insist on narrative, or even on consensus meaning. It also doesn’t reject it. Nothing is more unreal than the self-talk that claims to be real.

Let go, and go back to sitting and staring at the flames, while out of the corner of the eye, stars and treeshadows slowly turn the wheel of the sky’s clock, winding up, winding down. And the return to silence is durable, inevitable, unexpected, tremulous, like nothing else. The light flickers through the fireplace screen, and on the ceiling of the room, and splashes on floor and walls of the silent house.

unnamed falls
to frozen lakes—
silent water sleep

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Blogger Shameless said...

Ooooooo. lots of pleasure and bristle here. I like it. :-)

12:50 PM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

I love this one, Art

5:19 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Seamus, I much appreciate it. It must be my melanchoilc Irish roots. :)

And thank you, too, suzanne, and welcome aboard.

9:46 PM  

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