When Geoffrey Hill died at the end of June, a friend and I were in the midst of trying to break into the agate of one of his poems. Back and forth, over the span of days, we emailed etymologies and conjectures, trying to work our way into bright allusive seams and necessary recesses where meanings crystallized.
Outside my kitchen window, a gingko tree
bursts gold, fan-shaped leaves shimmering
in fresh air. I have thought all morning
about what I want, and it’s nothing.
—Elizabeth Drewry, “Nothing Is Wanting”
I have a wall of windows in my classroom, and I keep the blinds wide open unless I am using media that requires a darkened room. As soon as the media presentation is over, I let the blinds blink open so that daylight can flood the room again.
It’s summer, the sky’s a hazy blue and the clouds are piling up like ice cream scoops in a bowl. All motion rendered lazy by the humidity allows my mind to wander. I wonder how many poems there are about ice cream. I know one by Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream.” But I stop my languid search as soon as I find Charles Bukowski’s “The Icecream People.” Thinking about the differences between the lives and writing styles of these two poets is as delicious as sampling dulche de leche ice cream and rocky road.
On the first day of 7th grade my history teacher asked us to write down a nickname she should use for us in class. Did she mean we could choose a nickname we wanted to be called by? An Aaron by any other name? I had felt so penned in by name at 12. It had already been egregiously mispronounced (“erin”) and misspelled (I possess a litany of incorrect name tags). Back then I didn’t know of any really admirable Aaron’s either — Aaron Sele, a first round pick by the Boston Red Sox, would not make his debut until I was in 8th grade. These days it’s still burdensome: The double A’s mean I get butt-dialed all the time.
If this comedy sketch had been around 24 years ago… my name and nickname would’ve been coveted by all.
Agnes Martin (1912-2004) painted lines and grids and blocks of color. The exhibit of her work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an extensive retrospective spanning the decades of her career, offers visitors a chance to view such simple things as these lines and grids and blocks of color.