I made it to the library today although I haven’t been reading much. I thought I had only two books (there were about five and two audiobooks) to pick up so I went looking for that New Yorker Book of Poems from 1969 that I had out a while ago. I knew no one else would have grabbed it. Now I have an anthology for perusal. Oddly enough, I opened it to a Mark Strand poem. It’s a long one, so I put it at the end of this post. The end of the poem is in keeping with the “chat” we are having about “what is.”
In my immediate world, "what is" is not much fun. Mom was loopy this morning, dizzy, mentally jumping around and then getting her preach on about getting along with the neighbor. This never goes over well with me. There are times when she sermonizes or philosophizes, rather excluding the person she is addressing. She talks a lot about "her beliefs" and "her belief system," at which time I counter with my tendency to rely on my experience.
It's all so painful I scarcely know how to scratch the surface of the intensity. I will keep trying.
Off to her dentist for a teeth cleaning because she felt she could not drive herself. The hygienist took her blood pressure again and it was high. That might explain the dizziness and peculiar flight of metaphysics out of context. She wants to exert control and influence over me (others also, but me especially) in this realm. I grow impatient with her "lessons."
She talks about dying more than she ever has. When her comments are mentioned later, she either doesn't remember or shrugs them off, or both. Getting a consistent read on how she is, is very hard. And I just don't know what to make of it.
So, I renewed my efforts to find a doctor who specializes in geriatric medicine and we have an appointment in 10 days. I also found a orthopedic surgeon to get a second opinion on a hip replacement. Researching doctors, forwarding charts from previous doctors, the all of it, all exhausting. And no outlet for my fear, my panic, my astonished pain, my skidding into loss.
Here are today's tomatoes with my first Thai red chili pepper. My tomatoes have spider mites. Other plants have some kind of mold. It's always something. But I did make progress on cleaning off my gardening bench. And, somehow, I made it into the pool for my half-mile swim. I cried while I swam. Coals to Newcastle? I should have imagined myself as Alice swimming in her own tears, chasing after the mouse.
Composed, generally defined
By the long sharing
Of contours, continents and oceans
Are gathered in
The same imaginary net.
Over the map
The portioned air, at times but
A pure, cloudless
Canopy of artificial calm.
Lacking the haze,
The blurred edges that surround our world,
The map draws
Only on itself, outlines its own
Dimensions, and waits,
As only a thing completed can,
To be replaced
By a later version of itself.
Wanting the presence
Of a changing space, my attention turns
To the world beyond
My window, where the map’s colors
Fade into a vague
Afterimage and are lost
In the variable scene
Of shapes accumulating. I see
A group of fields
Tend slowly inland from the breaking
Of the fluted sea,
Blackwing and herring gulls, relaxed
On the air’s currents,
Glide out of sight, and trees,
Cold as stone
In the gray light of this coastal evening,
Out of focus. From the still
Center of my eyes,
Encompassing in the end nothing
But their own darkness,
The world spins out of reach, And yet,
Happens where definition is
Its own excuse
For being, the map as it was:
Of how the world might look could we
Maintain a lasting
Perfect distance from what is.
— Mark Strand