Friday, May 29, 2015

IS THE PROBLEM ROUND OR ELLIPTICAL?


Stuart circa 1971. Photo by C. Dierdorff
It has been a week and two days since Stuart died. Although I am not crying or dysfunctional, I think about him and his death quite frequently throughout the day. When I am gardening or listening to music, I think about his love for both and our conversations about those two topics. I see the many photographs of him that have been posted on Facebook and have a terrible time understanding that I will no longer see him, no matter low long I wait.

So many song lyrics come to me, many of them beneath my acknowledgment on a usual day:

"I always thought that I'd see you again" (Fire and Rain)

"Nothin's gonna bring him back" (He's Gone)

A day or two later.

It is funny or noteworthy or something that so many tasks of the day, end with my thinking "And Stuart is gone." Particularly when I am doing something he liked to do like garden or when I hear a version of a Dylan song, for instance, Jimi Hendrix' version of Like A Rolling Stone and think, "Stuart had such an unusual arrangement of that song and I will never hear it again." 

The sadness is still very present, but I am not crying real tears all the time. I think about LiLi many times a day and wonder how she is, how she is dealing with her grief. She posted a lot of pictures on FB that captured their life at their beautiful Woodstock abode, where Stuart had a great studio. I was there only once, during a big snowfall. The food and the company were delectable. 

I wish I had more of the Stuart support group nearby. At this point, I am wrangling with why this death hit me so hard, harder even than Carl's death. Carl rather committed a slow suicide, unable to help himself. Stuart absolutely wanted to live. I rarely saw him in a less than vibrant state. And, this,too, is challenging: I see the lively photographs of him and wonder how it could be. He was thin and thoughtful the last two times I saw him, but otherwise not diminished.

No doubt neither this grief nor these musings are over.



In the meantime, the garden is coming along. The effects of water rationing on my burgeoning garden are still unknown as the restrictions vary water district to water district. I take all my showers at the gym after swimming, so I figure I can get away with some there. I have even eschewed my beloved twice weekly baths. Besides the new Meyer lemon and tangelo trees, I have MANY tomato plants (San Marzano, cherry, and some very good volunteers from last year), chinese hyacinth beans, snowpeas (even though it is late for them), Fordhook lima bean bushes, cauliflower, lemon cucumber, Tuscan kale, and four kinds of bell peppers as well as a bunch of different herbs. Those, hopefully, are drought resistant and will just grow and grow, the rosemary and lavender in particular. 




THE PROBLEM

You are trying to solve a problem.
You're almost certainly halfway done,
maybe more.

You take some salt, some alum,
and put it into the problem.
Its color goes from yellow to royal blue.

You tie a knot of royal blue into the proble,
as into a Peruvian quipu of colored string.

You enter the problem's bodegas,
its flea markets, souks.
Amid the alleys of sponges and sweets,
of jewelry, spices, and hair combs,
you ponder which stall, which pumpkin or perfume, is yours.

You go inside the problem's piano.
You choose three keys.
One surely must open the door of the problem,
if only you knew only this:
is the quandary edible or medical,
a problem of reason or grief?

It is looking back at you now
with the quizzical eyes of a young, bright dog.

Her whole body pitched for the fetch,
the dog wants to please.
If only she could ascertain which direction,

what object, which scent of riddle,
and if the problem is round or elliptical in its orbit,
and if is measured in foot-pounds, memory, or meat.

— Jane Hirshfield, The Beauty, Knopf, 2015









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