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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



The Girl You Speak of is Lost

I always liked this title. I didn't use it on the poem I wrote the first draft of below. So I'm using it now. Again. For no reason.

Here's a little snippet from my Monday. Please excuse nasty language. At least I didn't say "fuckity fuck fuck fuck" which I did repeatedly in Monday's email when we found out such things as our dead water heater being out of warranty, the fact that there is no way to have the water on in the house and the water heater not leak, and the fact that no one could come that day to fix it.


--------------- swg #14550              (27 lines) ---------------

Date: Mon Nov 24 09:02:32 2003
From: I'll have some of whatever you're on, please 
Subject: malls are surreal

Sorry you were sick, kittee.

Today I have to work impressively hard, so that when a plumber calls and
say he can get to my house I can leave quickly and everyone will just say
let her go, she's worked enough already!  (ha ha ha)

I am the great unwashed today.  Our water is off because of our dead water
heater.  I didn't get enough sleep because we were mopping up after our
dead water heater.  Aren't those fuckers supposed to last at least ten
years?  Why does it go out right before a major holiday when we're having
trouble getting our plumber?

I are terribly, terribly cranky right now.  And there's another loud
meeting right outside my office.  I closed my door.  Probably everyone in
the rest of  the office is grateful because it helps cut off the cranky
vibes emitting from me.

The Real Estate Program's brochure, which thankfully I am not responsible
for, says [centered]:

        Real Estate
        at the
        University of Washington

        "The Interdisciplinary School of Behavioral Thought"

Not entirely sure what that last is supposed to mean.
So, that was Monday. It's fixed now. $700 later. Merry Christmas and all that.

Since then we had Thanksgiving (quiet, just Jim and I, a turkey, and the extended DVD of The Two Towers) and a lovely memorial service for a friend's mother. It feels like the time has been packed. I'm most assuredly not ready to go back to work and all the usual tomorrow.


last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing



The Fiery Furnaces. Lamb. The Beatles' White Album. O bla di bla da.


last week's listening § next week's listening



Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades is the prequel to Devil's Cub, which I read November 9 (see my March 18, 2001, July 8, 2001, July 29, 2002, September 14, 2003, and September 21, 2003 entries for comments on other Georgette Heyer novels). This tells the tale of how the devil's cub's parents got together. The Duke of Avon, known as Satanas, finds a young orphaned French girl masquerading as a boy who reminds him of an enemy he has sworn to seek revenge on. He adopts the child as his page, and then launches her on society as his ward. She a wild page and an even wilder girl, but she loves the Duke and believes only the best of him. Great fun.

I read Mercedes Lacky and Rosemary Edghill's Mad Maudlin because part of it is based on the mythology that young homeless children on the east coast (I thought in Miami only, but this novel places it in New York City) have been telling each other about the war in heaven and La Llorona, a figure of Mary who kills street children unless you're a chosen one and know her secret name, in which case she appears to you in blue and helps you. A couple of years ago I wrote a poem taking the children's words about this, so I was interested in a novel that used this story. This is part of a series of novels about a modern-day magical Bard who travels between New York City and faery, and who is one of the guardians of the human world. It's a long, complex story with lots of characters but entertaining for all that, though I'm still not drawn to read more of these.

Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill's The Shadow of Albion is a mix of alternative history and fantastical elements. Here a young woman from post-revolutionary America is taken from an accident in which she is to die into an alternate universe in which the Stuarts still rule England and the colonies never revolted. However, the French revolution has happened and Napolean Bonaparte is on his quest to conquer all of Europe. In this universe, the young woman is a noblewoman long engaged to a duke, who is also a spy, and both of them become drawn into various French plots and English politics. I liked the concept more than the execution.


last week's reading § next week's reading



I'm back in research mode, spending the time I would write, reading some background material. Happily, what I'm reading tells me that I have been on track so far, and also gives me some ideas for the revisions I plan to continue very soon if holiday preparation doesn't get too much in the way.


last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

April - June 1991

1624. The Girl You Speak of is Lost
April 28, 1991

I'm tired of being silent
for you in the other room,
tired of watching the evening
settle closer about the house.
Earlier the birds called, while
the cat chased white petals
blown against the windows
from the cherry tree outside
just months ago in the storm
he chased snow. I wish
I knew what he's dreaming
he cries chirps, his paw slips on the glass
and down. Now the tree outside
still shines like white white clouds
in the evening's black branches
When I speak my words
are about a child waiting
to be born. Beltane fires
soon lit against midnight sky
sparks & stars in the darkness [1]

1625. Three beginnings
May 12, 1991

i I was made for another era

Having slept the afternoon away
I arrange tea on the tray
and serve myself.
My red eyes sting dry
bit I pour and drink
as though delicacy
would sustain me.
And these days after the whirl
of grand passion
it does.

ii The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy-O

It wasn't Romance, or even
passion so much that made
me go as reality--I wanted
to feel the real rain, the sun,
th hardness of the dirt
to sleep on, the forest floor.
The dangerous night air
to breathe and thrive in.
The smell of real human flesh
sweat and the malt of sun
on skin. I didn't even run
in spring, to be wild first
in the safety of summer
but autumn after the first
snow, when frost cracks
the earth each night.
That was real.

iii Marian

It was his surprise
at the blood on his hands
that drew me to him.
His belief in the innocence
of his weapons
and of his heart, his belief
that changing one thing
could be the start
of changing it all.

It's not just the outlaw
that I love, but the man
who believes he stands
for the higher law: a law
unto himself, against
the prattling priests who argue
for he right of the current
order because they know
which side their bread
is buttered and which side
has no bread at all.

The common good. To stand
for that is now small thing.

And though he was gone
a long time, days in the forest
alone with a man
can last a long time
in the heart of a woman
who stole out from the town.

I would have stolen more
for him and what he tried
to do. I have him gold
to feed the children the soldiers
orphaned. I would have seduced
the key to his cell from the jailor
if I could. To see those hands.
Guilty of a kind of savagery
most men never know, a pure
and violent hatred of the lies
we live by, strong and cold enough
to tear them apart, kill
the liars in cold warm blood, blood
on his hands the colour of snow. [2]

1626. Back from Toronto [3]
June 9, 1991

Back to my life--a rush of things to do when I got back and I've stalled out now, sleeping forever like I sometimes do. Like a cat. Maddy's rolling in a patch of sun now. The white of her so bright in the sun that it almost hurts my eyes. Luminous. She wants her white belly rubbed. I've just finished reading Animal Dreams for review [4]. It's a June & sunny windy day. Spring almost summer. Time to work.


1. Much revised, this poem became "Nettle Wife" in Blood Memory.

2. I've never quite finished with this poem. It's fairly different from this version but I've never yet been happy with it. Too simplistic, or something.

3. I think for the League of Canadian Poets' Annual General Meeting.

4. The review appeared in Calyx.

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