Asking an English major for a favorite poem, and expecting an immediate answer might well be an exercise in futility. Melanie Bettinelli, who blogs about literature (and other things) at The Wine Dark Sea offered me the poet Marianne Moore as part of a Facebook game. Little did she know Moore is one of my favorites, along with two other poets from that era, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. I can’t say I love Moore’s poems as much as I love their form, her style. It’s free and long and even as I write this long long sentence I see her influence in my writing. Maybe I should go back to writing poetry.
Here’s the poem I selected for the challenge because lately it seems all I do is stand “looking into the sea.” I don’t know what answers I seek there, or even if I know the questions, but the line “the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look” resonates with me. Is my look so deep, so intent, that it violates? Maybe, like the movement of fishermen’s oars, I look at the sea as if there were no death.
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as
you have to it yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-
foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look —
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are
desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away — the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were
no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx — beautiful
under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls
as heretofore —
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which
dropped things are bound to sink —
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor
Misty days at the shore create a heavy mood around here. The air is soupy. Things slow down. Some people say it’s somber and even a little depressing because everything turns gray, Personally, I think it creates a special ambience — not quite romantic, but certainly mysterious. Like special things can happen.
Anything can happen. Or nothing at all.Read More
I’m grateful for every chapter in my story — good and bad, joyful and sad. Reflecting and sharing part of my family’s experience as political refugees — politically exiled Cubans in the early 1960’s — is only part of the complex series of events that comprise my life. I am grateful for it all, and while it is a part of my identity, it certainly isn’t the whole of it.
It seems the trend to label everyone and put them into a nice neat box, once an efficient way to identify demographics, has turned into a much larger issue that probably does more to divide than unite. I’m guilty of it loads of times. Too many, really, to have a clear conscience about criticizing it, but, it’s not the first time I hold conflicting points of view at the same time. I suppose that’s easy to do when you live in two worlds concurrently, even if they are in your head.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be celebrating the 51st anniversary of coming to the United States. I entered through San Antonio, Texas! Needless to say, Texas holds a special place in my heart.
And then, later this year, I will celebrate the 40th anniversary of becoming a naturalized American citizen. It’s like having a second birthday.
I’m grateful for the opportunity my parents found in this great nation. I’m doubly grateful to be a citizen of the United States, the country that took us in and said welcome home.
My story has a happy ending, so to speak. The U.S. is filled with stories like mine, generation after generation. And yet, there’s another truth, of stories cut short or unfulfilled. That is part of the migrant story, too.
I’m grateful for my family — near and far, and far away.
Otis, our dog, snores. It’s kind of endearing.
The moon is beautiful tonight.
I’m going through edits on my manuscript and it’s both tedious and enlightening.
Some days were made for lazy.Read More