“Novels remind us that the hard questions matter, they always have, and that we can’t ignore them just because we’re comfortable, well-fed, sheltered, and secure. Maybe those same comforts, which give us time and leisure enough to read novels in the first place, are the very reason why we need them so badly. A great novel is always felt as a kind of gift, and here’s the strange thing: these gifts are heartbreaks we wouldn’t suffer, tears we wouldn’t shed, agonies we wouldn’t undergo, if we simply left the books alone and did something else with our time.”
Paul Nash, The Wood on the Hill, 1912
One time from a blind watching sandhill cranes
we spotted something not a bird saunter
out from dark covert of blackberry canes,
coyote all lean-legged and cocksure,
then two more, stretching, yawning, shaking rain
from their yellow eyes, their yellow-brown fur
before setting off at an easy jog
across the wheat stubble, wading plumes of fog.
We watched them skirt the marsh, so negligent,
ignoring the cranes and the goldeneye—
stopping to smell old scat, examine bent
stems of yarrow, crouch to satisfy
an itch. Watching hard, we missed the moment
their hunt began, the artful dodge, the sigh
of yellow-brown grass. Death comes just that way:
the casual approach, then the endgame.
See also this gorgeous, unexpected short story by Gloss, who is new to me. Stumbled on both of these when I was researching lambing for my own novel, and am psyched and grateful to have found her, despite that she writes in such a way as to make other writers throw up their hands in defeat. At least for a little while.
“Such a small, pure object a poem could be, made of nothing but air, a tiny string of letters, maybe small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. But it could blow everybody’s head off.”
— Mary Karr, from Lit: A Memoir (Harper, 2009)
“I find I get more and more disagreeably solitary; In fact I foresee the day when I shall have gone too far into myself that there will no longer be anything to be seen of me at all.”
— Vita Sackville-West inThe Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf (Cleis Press, 2001)
About last night.
Great Blue Heron, Whidbey Island, WA