sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 2, 2010

to be read silently but remarked on at length
posted by soe 12:34 pm

Today is the 5th annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading in honor of St. Brigid, patron saint of poetry.

This year’s selection so blew me away when it first arrived in my email that I read it twice, meditated on it all day, and then read it aloud to Rudi (who just loves that kind of thing, let me tell you).

A Capital Trip
            by Jean Esteve

We went for salmon,
me and him,
out past the last singing buoy,
on a choppy sea,
his wife aboard, too,
of course; as crew,
helpmeet, her feet
in high sturdy boots,
thick wool over all the rest.
I had on my flowery dress,
and like to froze
till he gave me his coat,
his big cozy jacket
right off his back,
when the wind whipped up
to a real squall
and rain fell hard
on the slippery deck,
rinsing my dainty hands.
We went for salmon,
came home with none,
no fish in the hold,
no wife in woolens,
a successful trip, nevertheless,
all told.

Oh my god. It’s just absolutely perfect in what it sets out to do and is such an amazing example of how poetry is capable of condensing a long story into 25 short, but powerful lines.

Feel free to participate on your own blog or Facebook page (or, if you like really short poems, Twitter) or to add a poem of your own choosing in my comments if you don’t have an online space you call your own. (And a hat-tip to Deb, without whose early post nudging my winter-weary brain I might have forgotten today’s significance.)

My previous years of participation in this event have brought us poems by John Frederick Nims, Mary Oliver, Grace Paley, Heather McHugh, and Barbara Hamby, all of which are worth a re-read should you be so inclined.


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2,557 days and counting…
posted by soe 3:08 am

Seven years ago today, Rudi and I loaded three cats, two sleeping bags, and a tv into his car and moved south from Connecticut to Washington, D.C.

It had been a harrowing weekend. I hadn’t wanted to move. I’d been happy living in Middletown, and my displeasure and stress had perhaps made me an even slower packer than my procrastination would normally have led me to be. Despite efforts the previous week from friends, we were not packed up and were not ready to go.

My parents, heaven bless them, stopped at the apartment after their own full Friday of work and seven hours of traffic-laden commuting north to kick us into gear again. They went home for a few hours’ sleep, but returned early the next morning. We worked well into the wee hours of Sunday morning and were back up before the sun. All four of us were exhausted and sore and grumpy, but thanks to my parents’ tremendous aid, we were able to hand the keys to the landlady at noon on February 1 with an empty apartment. (Thanks, Mum and Dad. I don’t think Rudi or I can say that enough, even seven years later.)

Driving the final load of stuff up to my parents’ house, we heard on the car radio of the Columbia’s explosion upon attempted re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. I’m not saying I took it as a sign of a doomed move, but it certainly didn’t improve my outlook at moving far from my family and friends into an apartment a third the size of our previous one.

I have no recollection of that afternoon. I was so grief-stricken at all I was giving up that it has been lost in a whirlwind of pain.

The drive down took all night, as we got a late start and had to stop for several naps. When we finally arrived and unloaded the car, our stuff fit into a small corner of the apartment. We didn’t have jobs. Our prospects looked dim. In fact, I got on a plane that afternoon and returned to Connecticut to work for another two weeks while we looked for means to support ourselves. Life in D.C. stretched before us like an empty wall awaiting its mural.

Seven Februarys have come and gone since then. The Burrow is not remotely empty, as we have shoved way more into it than truly fits comfortably. We’re both still at the jobs we found later that year, each of which is only a few miles from our apartment. The friends we made during the Howard Dean bid for the presidency have lasted far longer than the campaign. They are an intelligent, liberal, quirky bunch, and without them I don’t think I would have made it through to this point.

I want more than anything to say at this point that the move to D.C. was a good one, that I’m glad we came, that I wouldn’t trade it for all the world. I know a lot of people would breathe a sigh of relief to see those words.

But I can’t type them. I just don’t know if they’re true.

I know on sunny summer days after biking with Julia that they’re true. And at Friday night jazz picnics in the sculpture garden. When talking with the farmers on Sunday mornings … Over Inaugural Weekend … There are lots of moments when I’m happy we are where we are.

But on days when I’m home by myself and no one answers their phones or nights like tonight when Rudi’s gone to bed and I’m up too late without a cat on my lap or when people who are dear to me just seem so far away, I’m not so sure still that this wasn’t a terrible mistake.

When I switched my car registration from Connecticut to D.C. this weekend, it was not without tears. My car was the last thing that truly said Connecticut was still mine, that we could just pack up and move back. It’s still possible, but changing the car’s registration just seemed to cement that it wouldn’t be as simple as I’d like to believe the option remained.

They say you can’t step into the same river twice, and it’s true. If I went home, it wouldn’t be home any more. Seven years have changed the lives of my friends and family, too. My grandmother moved in with my parents and sold her house. Karen moved to another state, got married, and had a baby. Shelley quit her job and started med school. John got married. BW became even more involved in her school and was recognized at the state level for her dedication and über-teacher creds. Life goes on for us all.

It used to be a regular occurrence that I’d get depressed and ask Rudi when we could move home. Understandably, he found this a bit discouraging, because he had adjusted well to the move. Last year, I decided I had to make a conscious decision not to ask that question any more. In fact, I was to avoid considering the question whenever possible. I feared that if I didn’t stop thinking of this as a temporary relocation I was never going to be able to move forward. I’d be stuck treading water forever.

I’ve made progress. The moments of resembling Lot’s wife come far less frequently and generally I’m able to laugh off the occasional question from friends from the Northeast inquiring about when we’ll be moving back. But that doesn’t mean the question has resolved itself.

Seven years is a long time. It’s longer than I lived in Middletown after college. It’s longer than I was in New London for college. It was longer than I spent at any school growing up. I don’t know where I’ll be in seven years’ time. Maybe we’ll still be here. Maybe we’ll be back up in New England. Who knows, exactly.

But I do hope that seven years from now I’ll at least have figured out how to be content and at home wherever it is that I am. It seems tonight like that goal is still a ways off from here.

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