What to Do About November

I rarely light candles except at the dinner table or on birthday cakes and special occasions. But that 'little light of mine' tune has been noodling around in my brain all week. Maybe that means it's time to celebrate the ordinary goodness of  fall days and long November nights. So last night I lit a candle on the windowsill while I washed the dishes.  This morning I lit one at the breakfast table. (It helps that Chip is off deer hunting, and the dogs don't ask what I am doing.) When I blew the candles out I made a wish. One selfish one " I wish that I finish this new book on time,"  and one for the world,  "I wish we could all get along and solve our problems." I flicked the dash of spilled salt for my omelet over my left shoulder too, just in case. On our walk, I tossed one of the dogs' biscuits to the raven flapping along next to us and he gurgled back thanks in a language older than mine. 

I am going to practice another way to communicate, too. Beginning with haikus. 5-7-5 is doable. The other day, my granddaughters wanted to play charades, before we began we all practiced the hand signals -- " First word, two syllables, sounds like..." That's what I look like when I'm counting poetry beats on my fingers --  "First line, five syllables, how about, ' can-dle burn-ing bright?'" That's a cliche. No one is born a poet. It takes practice.

My friend the crime fiction writer John Straley composes a good Haiku every morning, and recently published the best of them in four seasonal volumes printed by Shorefast Editions of Juneau. This is from 100 Poems of Fall :

In the morning

the world was quiet with snow.

Election day...gone.

Here's another one I really like:

Everything not tied down,

will blow away


I was so inspired after John's reading in Juneau last month, that I re-homed an Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter to help me write, and think, differently. (She is not and never will be connected to the internet, which is a huge part of her charm.) Olive, as I call her, is four or five years younger than I am, and as sturdy and well maintained, with about the same amount  of wear and tear-- and loose screws. (Just a couple, and like mine, they can be adjusted.) She's from Italy originally, but her past is a mystery. I wonder whose hands have tapped up and down the steep steps of her keyboard? And what they wrote about-- have I read any of it? Possibly. Cormac McCarthy used one of Olive's relatives to compose his first novel. I love the conviction it takes to plant each letter, striking skin to metal, metal to ribbon, ink to paper, to physically make a word and then a sentence and on to the next line with a kind of square dance move-- that wrist flicking zing and ping of the carriage.

All I have to do is figure out how to write like a piano player and pull it all together.

jjj kkk jjj kkk jjj kkk lll kkk lll jjj ;;;

It may take a while. Olive is teaching me to type, beginning with my right hand.  But I'm also learning to adjust my eyes to the light-- inside and out--  as I do this, and that time is well spent.

In the preface of Poems of Fall John quotes Rilke, who says all this much better than I do:

Whoever you are: some

evening take a step

out of  your house, which

you know so well.

Enormous space is near, your

house lies where it begins,

Whoever you are.




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