August 2020: under the weather

ennui no levels a

The day was packing heat,
hanging it like a curtain
between me and the world–
dampening all sound,
clogging the airways,
slowing synapses down.

The open windows
provided no threshold
of relief–no wind
came knocking.

You can neither forecast
nor change
the way the currents
move you, or strand you
unmoved, trapped
in a density that refuses
to vacate.

Some days have wings–
but most rely on gravity
to anchor them–
to keep them
safe from the whims
of Gods.

The Kick-About #7 Challenge is Walter Richard Sickert’s painting, Ennui, above. Ennui is most closely associated with boredom, but it is heavy with an attitude that it seems to me is mostly posturing.  It’s a self-indulgence of the privileged who needn’t even be bothered with the daily tasks of life like cooking or washing clothes, or even gardening, as they have servants to deal with such mundane things.

Boredom infers monotony which does reflect the world many of us inhabit right now–the endless days and hours that we can’t keep track of anymore.  But it’s not really boredom.  I have no problem filling my days, though I can’t always point to what exactly it is I’ve filled them with.  But I find it hard to focus, to find motivation, and I’m often anxious and uneasy and feel unsettled and displaced.  The relentless heat is no help.

That’s what I tried to capture in my August grid and poem.  The pandemic world of now seems to box you in, surround you with a sameness of grey.

ennui close up s

The eye in my grid is a serendipitous borrowing from Marcy Erb.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

sue labyrinth s

After “The Owl” by Arthur Sze

I believed I was lost.
Night was on its way–
the path was purple in the dust
and seemed to have ended.
I had arrived here
without a destination.
I longed for sanctuary,
a resting place.

I saw an owl, perched,
watching me.
I spread my arms,
willing wings to appear
so I too could shelter
on a branch.

But I remained earthbound,
weary and alone.
And when the owl stirred,
a fine dust formed patterns
in the disappearing light.
It was as if a portal had opened.

Constellations
fell from its wings.  I was
surrounded by the cosmos,
spiraled into a glowing darkness
and deposited in a held breath.
All was silent then.  And I felt
safe, like the arms of the universe
held me in a vast sacred space.

Nothing stirred forever–then I sensed
the owl quaver.  And at dawn, waking,
I saw with clarity the world
becoming new, transforming
into a landscape that never existed
before now.  The path was green
and meandered back into itself.

I could not see where
I was going but it felt
familiar, like I had circled
with the seasons, following
the path of the planets dancing
with the sun and moon.

We emerged
reborn
into the
May light.

I’m bringing together a lot of different trains of thought here, so bear with me.

in the middle of now june 2016 grid s

The Kick-About challenge #6 is Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.  Though I have not read that particular Solnit book,  I have read at least one essay she has written about labyrinths (“Journey to the Center” from The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness), and that’s the first thing that came to mind.

A labyrinth is not a maze–there is only one path in and one path out.  Labyrinths have been found in cultures all over the world, and are often used as forms of ritual or pilgrimage–a way to return to the source, to lose yourself in something larger and as a result find yourself again.

Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above, gave me that feeling too–could not those paths be circuits on a labyrinth, doubling back to the beginning of the journey?

mapping the wind s

Labyrinths have been linked to circles, spirals, and mandalas–all patterns of sacred geometry.  They have been compared to a map of the brain.

Solnit:  “Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.”

map labyrinth s

 

When you walk a labyrinth you are walking the same path to and from the center, yet the journey in and out are not at all the same.  The seven circuit labyrinth is often layered with rainbows, mirroring the 7 chakras, the 7 notes of the musical scale, the 7 sacred planets, the 7 days of the week. The journey creates a bridge from earth to the cosmos and back again. In a symbolic death, you return to the womb, shedding the things you have acquired but no longer need.  Rebirthing back to the entrance/exit you open yourself to finding new patterns, new ways of being in the world.

chakra painted labyrinth s

Lost can mean adrift, forgotten, missing, but also captivated or consumed.  Lost can be hopeless or bewildered but it can also be rapt, immersed.

Solnit: “…to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.”

owl moon s

This poem is another instance where I spread out the lines of someone else’s poem and filled in the empty spaces with my own thoughts.  You can read Arthur Sze’s original poem here.

 

Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who hears your story?
Rebecca Solnit, “The Faraway Nearby”

go make people s

 

Ancestor (Dance of the Happy Shades)

ancestor comp

He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along
walls

ancestor close up 1s

His dance contains
unpredictable
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark

ancestor close up 2s

Phil Gomm’s Prompt #3 at The Kick About is Dance of the Happy Shades.  My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.