The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: August, 2011

A Much Needed Writing Residency

For the past week–save the 36 hours I went home to be with Cody and Eva for the hurricane–I’ve had the good fortune of being on a Writing Residency at The Rockefeller Estate in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

I stayed in this house which was just a stone’s throw from this house and wandered sculpture gardens and hiked these trails and kept running into butterflies and chipmunks and spent most of my time moving commas around and thinking about this ghost town. Days, I ate really juicy stand-over-the-sink plums, and nights, I supped on lentils. It was all really heavenly, but now–after one more hike and a couple more comma-shifts–I’m ready to go home to be with my family.

Thank you, Pocantico, and Teachers & Writers Collaborative for providing me with so much space to think and breathe and write, to stare out the open window and notice the shapes of the leaves and the sounds of the cicadas. I truly appreciate it.

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That Pretty Blue

The sky is that pretty blue that always seems to surround disaster or would-be disaster or get-in- the-car-and-drive-as-fast-as-you-can-back-to-Brooklyn-just-in-case-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-disaster; that pretty blue that seems to be the color of every wife I know’s wedding china, of every dress I fall in love with, every flower that makes me stop, makes me surprised it doesn’t smell more like wind or sea; pretty blue of Eva’s eyes, of ocean, of rear-view mirror sky.

When I was young, there was a painting my mother had hanging in the kitchen. It was of a trapeze swing suspended from the clouds. We lost it, I think, in a move. Or maybe it was replaced by something with more gravity: a wooden bowl, an emperor, a child with a kite.

Mornings like this, I miss it. I remember there was one spot in the kitchen–over by the glass that the birds sometimes flew senselessly into–and if I stood just so, it would look like the trapeze was swinging, ever so slightly, back and forth, a trick of light and artistry. If I had wanted to, I could have stayed there all day watching it, but of course I didn’t. There were sodas to drink and legs to shave and cars to ride in.

I wonder what I’d do with it now; if I’d go about boiling eggs and filing nails and scrubbing rings; or if I’d let myself be taken by the magic, let myself stare into that pretty blue until the trapeze started swinging, until it swung so hard that I might be tempted to reach out my hand and see if it was real.

This Morning

There are shadows and leaves and wind. Cicadas, thousands of cicadas, and there are cars that sound far away but that are probably very close. There is the sun. Where is the sun? Here is the sun. Shush dear, put it away. Place it in your pocket. Let it keep you warm. Let it burn through cotton and denim and flesh, and when you are done with it, give it back to the sky. There is the sky. Like every morning, there is the sky, but this morning, it is so white that it makes you understand the flush wings of angels. Somewhere nearby, there is a gardener. Somewhere nearby, the dahlias are wet and glistening.

Henry River


37

Four-leaf clover from my almost 3 year-old.

Branzino, heirloom tomatoes & cupcakes for lunch.

Earthquake.

I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a wild & wonderful year.

Slippery

Even here in Missouri the wind is starting to change. Mornings especially, I can feel the little bit of cool in the air, that bit of a breeze that reminds me summer won’t last forever. I’ve spent the last several days driving around Joplin looking at the mind-blowing devastation left in the wake of the May 22 tornado. Let’s go to Braum’s, I say; Gone, my in-laws tell me; Arby’s, I say; Gone, they say. It’s almost easy to forget how shady the parks used to be. I can hardly imagine all those trees uprooted and splintered and turned almost to nothing–to ash–in the air, a hundred years of growing from the very same spot in the earth and then–like that–nothing.

Inside

from The Automata

The Cracked Kettle

“Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat our tunes

to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.”

–Gustave Flaubert

Eva has been dancing in the living room. Evenings, she pulls on her leotard and her ballet skirt and places her arms in an oval around her face, spins and spins, until she falls or bangs into something or gets so dizzy that she laughs. All the while, I practice my ABC’s, watch the hump and sway of letters and words. O cracked kettle, cracked kettle blue, cracked pitcher, cracked catcher, cracked me and cracked you. Strumdilly, strumdally, strum mama a tune; my girlie is dancing, is dancing the moon.

Fever

Fever
by Hillery Stone
She lies on our bed whimpering
under a blanket she’s kicked off ten times this morning-
how am I to know whether to warm
her or take away the warmth
as her fever rages, marches past the Tylenol we gave,
the chilled towels, the bag of frozen peas I pressed
and pressed to her swollen thigh in the night. Now
her ears burn red; her head under my cheek feels
hot as the thick mug of coffee I drink each
morning beside her, reminding her not to touch it,
which is to say, reminding myself not to let it touch
her. She is the crowned Delicate
of the house. Everything hot, noxious, possibly germ-
ridden is kept away; we float above and around her safely,
like a mobile. But what could remove
the pain of her soft limbs after all those shots, the heat
of her own skin inside which she is trapped?
Her tears are bitter and imploring-I am responsible
and yet without an army to send in. Her body
is beneath me, and separate now.
Anything that will save her she already contains.
originally published in Painted Bride Quarterly

Postcard

On Monday, I did a reading and taught a poetry lesson at the New York Institute for the Blind. I was enchanted by the children. Indy felt my face and then laughed when she touched my curly hair. I thought it would be smooth, she said. After I read this poem, I told them they could write postcards from anywhere in the world.

This is what Sierra, 7, came up with:Postcard from the Inside of a Cow

Dear mom,
I am writing this
from the inside of a cow.
It is warm
and milky,
and oh so silky.
I miss you, mom.
I’ll be home soon.

S.