Indecision

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

To the office, where all the morning. At noon home to dinner, and in the afternoon to my office again, where very busy all the afternoon and particularly about fitting of Mr. Yeabsly’s accounts for the view of the Lords Commissioners for Tangier. At night home to supper and to bed.

off on and off again
an outfit for view at night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 26 April 1666.

Good girl

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
                         "...each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name"
     ~ G. M. Hopkins, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire"


You, my dead and dying, follow me from city 
      to city— you take up very little space 
but hoist your luggage in envelopes of water
      that leak from time to time. You hover
near my shoulder like a fever, like you did  
      when I was a girl, making sure I finish  
every morsel on my plate. In wistful tones 
      you tell stories about the neighbors'
children: how last summer the eldest took
      her parents on a cruise down the Rhine,
how the son surprised his mother with a new
      car in the driveway, engine running,
its hood adorned with a giant bow. You hide  
      my pillbox behind the cookie tin and make  
me want to drink all the ice water in the fridge, 
      looking for a small slice of moon. I promise
I will sweep the dust out from under the furniture
      and sort through boxes of paper marked
Important; but first I need a nap. A faint
      clicking like castanets means I've
disappointed you again. I'm sorry I pawned
      the silver candlesticks and ruby pendant.
The kitchen cupboards are filled with mugs
      from different restaurants and my bankbook
with smaller and smaller numbers. You're always
      telling me my life can still be good, better
than what I left behind. After all these years
      you stroke my hair and ask me to pick out
the ghost-grey from your heads: you'll give  
      me five centavos for each one pulled out
at the root so I can be your sad girl forever  
      but please— leave my daughters alone. 
 

Nature poet

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to White Hall to the Duke as usual, and did our business there. So I away to Westminster (Balty with me, whom I had presented to Sir W. Coventry) and there told Mrs. Michell of her kinswoman’s running away, which troubled her. So home, and there find another little girle come from my wife’s mother, likely to do well. After dinner I to the office, where Mr. Prin come to meet about the Chest business; and till company come, did discourse with me a good while alone in the garden about the laws of England, telling me the many faults in them; and among others, their obscurity through multitude of long statutes, which he is about to abstract out of all of a sort; and as he lives, and Parliaments come, get them put into laws, and the other statutes repealed, and then it will be a short work to know the law, which appears a very noble good thing. By and by Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Rider met with us, and we did something to purpose about the Chest, and hope we shall go on to do so. They up, I to present Balty to Sir W. Pen, who at my entreaty did write a most obliging letter to Harman to use him civilly, but the dissembling of the rogue is such, that it do not oblige me at all.
So abroad to my ruler’s of my books, having, God forgive me! a mind to see Nan there, which I did, and so back again, and then out again to see Mrs. Bettons, who were looking out of the window as I come through Fenchurch Streete. So that indeed I am not, as I ought to be, able to command myself in the pleasures of my eye.
So home, and with my wife and Mercer spent our evening upon our new leads by our bedchamber singing, while Mrs. Mary Batelier looked out of the window to us, and we talked together, and at last bid good night. However, my wife and I staid there talking of several things with great pleasure till eleven o’clock at night, and it is a convenience I would not want for any thing in the world, it being, methinks, better than almost any roome in my house. So having, supped upon the leads, to bed.
The plague, blessed be God! is decreased sixteen this week.

tell me the many faults
and obscurity of my books
I am sure of my eye

a window is a convenience
I would not want
the world being better than any room


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 25 April 1666.

Hill station

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

 

Women from the farms separate
the newly sprung from earth
and gather seeds from fruits
of their early harvest. Their fore-
bears stacked terraces by hand upon
the mountainsides, split and coaxed
stalks of bamboo to move water
from upland springs to where 
the soil could not otherwise
be fed, except for rain. Their hands
are moss and stone, vine and resin
on rows of carved wooden gods 
resting under each granary: they
guard each grain and frighten voles
that roam the fields after dark, that hide
from owls and kestrels sweeping the sky
of foggy webs. The women save the blood
from every slaughter and sacrifice,
then twist it into smoky necklaces.
The bees make homes near citrus
groves and pilfer another kind
of gold into each cell. No snow
falls here though it is north and
high. But sometimes frost burns all
the tender green; then we are helpless.