Saturday, January 17, 2004


I like to imagine that this dark arch leads to a warm den. A hermit's cell. The cell where I've been these past three months. Cell, and hibernatorium. For I've spent a lot of time simply dormant, waiting, biding my time. Time's up, now. The chapter, "In Which I Break My Neck," is actually over. How strange. It was becoming familiar, comfortable terrain. I sit alone in a waystation/on a long railroad/waiting for a train -- when my dear father, Raul Stanati, returns from Florida I must ask him who wrote that song. The train, my life, has arrived and it's time to get back on.

That's a bad metaphor. This has never not been my life. What is, is. Beyond desire or rebellion.

A line from a Robert Lowell poem occurred to me, earlier today: "Cured, I am frizzled, stale and small." It's hardly an expansive, wild mania from which I am emerging, but the other adjectives felt applicable.

Frizzled, because it sounds like frazzled, and because I have been on a forced retreat from a job about which I have terrible ambivalence, and to which I must return in two days. Frazzled to be driving again: curiously, I find myself not so much anxious, but weirdly befogged and inattentive, absent minded, passive, only remembering at the last minute that traffic lights operationally apply to me. Stale, in that, especially lately, I've had little patience for reading, and no inclination whatsoever to sit or to write poetry. Small: diminished, a bit damaged, frailer, thinner. Creaky, rusted up.

I returned to the river path, today, for the first time in a few weeks. And for the first time since September without my fiendish, neck-encasing Albert DeSalvo neck brace. I went as an antidote to feeling frazzled, stale and small. I returned with a good measure of levity and vigor.

What a delight it was to turn my head and not my whole body when I look around.

It was icy on the path, and the vegetation was even more spare and stripped. I love the knots and tangles, the helices and spirals, the skeletal intricacy of it all. I brought the camera: there is so much to see. It helps me look. I no longer feel rapacious with it. The hermit's site is still vacant, the tent still collapsed. The suitcases have been rearranged, but not pillaged. The lawnchair is propped against a tree. I feel less shy and transgressive there, now. From a distance, hidden in brambles, I watched a jogger stop and stare at the ruined camp.

The beautiful, nameless grass is still standing; how can something so dessicated be so resilient and strong ?

The river was swift, and shelves of ice extended from the bank. Lumps of brown-tinged foam were caught on the ice at the banks, quivering. The coves were frozen over, and ducks and geese were walking on the ice, swimming and diving in the channel, and flying overhead. I took a photo of a skyful of geese, and, aiming, had a brief, disquieting sense of being a hunter.

Dearest, I cannot linger here
in lather like a polar bear.

-- R. Lowell, "Home After Three Months Away."

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