Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This Picture Of Me, Contemplation

I was once a diver, back a hundred years ago, a pretty good swimmer, liked it under water, just floating around down there, worked on my breath so I could stay longer but never trusted scuba gear or snorkel. I am totally backed up about inhaling when I am under water. I have never felt like I wanted to crack that barrier. This might have something to do with being a very bad childhood asthmatic.

Anyway, I have never feared, always loved the water, and in diving learned to do a passable swan, jacknife, a survivable flip, and then late on a pretty good half gainer. Now that's a counterintuitive dive. You go deliberately against your somatic instinct to accomplish that dive and it taught me something irreplaceable about commitment, because if you waffle at the critical moment you will end up with a back flop, a belly flop only much much worse. So you either do the half gainer or you don't. No effing around. And you have to approach with a forward motion that is well formed too, or you might hit the board like your body says you will.

This Picture Of Me

I dove, perfect form,
Into the deep pool of worlds,
Into air and stones,
Into the broad spray of life
Everywhere around me.

I took it all in
Then made this picture of me
On your mountain wall.


So what would it be like to be the autumnal tree? Many years ago Anne and I had friends (once her best friend) who lived in Putney, Vermont. We went to see them, flew into Boston and drove a rental up from the airport, is it or was it Logan? I think we spent the night in Boston, actually because I think it was that trip we went to Anthony's Pier 4, but that might have happened on the way back. Anyway, we went in fall for the turning. I fell in love with Revolutionary War vintage graveyards and the way the countryside was, and we both marveled at the mystery of how these people made a living. It was way too far to commute.

But the turning was magnificent. We were early for that part of Vermont, but over in New Hampshire it was well along.

One night we went to a special restaurant, that Slicker and Dow (our friends) had reserved for us. We had the place to ourselves, it was a place like that, run by a ski bum from Denver, and it was near the ski resort, whatever it is, near Putney. After a great dinner he came in and got drunk with us telling us great stories of the ski bum life while I told my "war" stories and so did the others. We laughed and laughed, and when it was time to go home, he tried to get us to stay, wouldn't charge us. But we felt as good drunks do, that we should go home. And God generally loves drunks because most of the time, like that night, we make it just fine, though driving like that is insane. When I wrote this next poem I was looking at a photo of the Idahoan deciduous forest, not the Vermont, but still I had memories of the turning in New England in mind. It seems to me that we have many more yellows, many fewer shades of red in our forests.


If I turned to gold
Like that tree, I would accept
My fate, so happy
I would be to show myself
For just a season, a time
Of contemplation,
Of preparation, of peace.
Then I'd go to sleep.


  1. I was reading your other post and was going to comment and now you have a new post! Somehow I feel like I am falling behind. I really like the stories you tell before your poems.

    You seem to have a lot of water in your poetry these last few days. I think I will post one of my water poems tonight (too tired to write anything new.)

    I used to live very near Putney. Some of my family still do. Someday I will post some Vermont pictures on my blog :) I spent a lot of time in old graveyards.

    I will come back and comment more coherently when I am not so tired :). And thanks for all your comments on my blogs.

  2. This blog life is demanding, heh. Thanks for stopping by. I post more or less around 8pm my time. And because I have material already for 150 days easy, there is no reason to stop. But I do like to add bits of my life without necessarily interpreting the poems, I hope.

    The Putney visit was in the earliest eighties or late seventies. I know because I sobered up in 1983.

  3. You are Gold. All is perfect as it is.
    Living in the Klondike, i've done a bit of gold panning. I just love it, when i find a nugget in between the gravelly sand.
    I would have loved it, to have seen you dive!

  4. Jozien, that diving is a past tense thing for many obvious reasons. It is a young man's game, at least in my life. I haven't even been swimming for years now. Thank you for your kind words.

    Y'know, I sit here in the dark lots of times so I am forced to touch type because I can't see the keyboard anyway...sometimes that's a fool's game because I lose more time in the mistypes than I would by slowing down and looking at the keys while I type...but I figure sometime down the line I will be really really speedy on this typing stuff. Probably when I am ninety, having died at eighty.

    Another one of those things...

  5. Diving I never did, but swimming I loved. I wasn't "good" at swimming, but I could stay in the water forever and keep going in my own fashion. There were summers when swimming was the way I made it through the day. We had a smallish pond and I would swim back and forth for at least an hour, usually longer. It was like I was trying to reinvent myself. I would come out feeling so light. My arms would feel as though they were floating in the air. I don't know. Your poem made me think of that. Interesting. "This Picture of Me" ... the spray of water --of life ...I can see that.

    You are right, here (in Vermont)the colors turn much more red. It is a less contemplative color. There is more of a "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" quality to it. Fall is my most favorite time of year. And maybe my moodiest:P. Your poem though is so peaceful. Maybe if the colors here were more golden, I would find more peace.:)

    Early 80's, late 70's? I would have been just heading off to college in upstate New York...but that was around the time when we moved to be in Vermont full time. (Before that, we were summer folk -- flatlanders...)

    Did Jar Jar help you with the bucket of water in your previous post? I enjoyed those poems.:)

  6. Have you ever hung out close to one of those guys, they have really distracting habits, and JarJar wanted to help but I just had to turn him down. Gracefully of course. He pouted but not terribly.

    Slicker left Dow eventually and married Philip Eppard. Now they live in Troy because he is a professor there. Philip should either have retired or is close by now.

  7. I like the mood reflected in both of these. Especially the second one; casting it all aside for those moments of golden glory.

  8. Haha! I do the typing in the dark thing, too. I last tested at about 90 wpm. So it does pay off, not being able to see the keys.

  9. i know you are too cheep to buy broadband, but download this and look at it..... i think you'll like it...... i thought of it with the civil war graveyard comment...... yankee bayonet

    Soldier: Heart carved tree trunk, Yankee bayonet
    A sweetheart left behind

    Girl: Far from the hills of the sea-swaled Carolinas
    That's where my true love lies

    Soldier: Look for me when the sun-bright swallow
    Sings upon the birch bow high

    Girl: But you are in the ground with the wolves and the weevils
    All a-chew on your bones so dry

    But when the sun breaks to no more bullets in Battlecreek
    Then will you make a grave? For I will be home then.....

    this is also my favorite cover of this song.....

  10. Well, I was writing about Revolutionary War graveyards, some seventy or so years earlier...I have set it off in the background somewhere, hoping it will eventually load, like maybe by tomorrow morning. What happens, like I said, I don't get to dump dial up, even save that, because I have to keep it for work. So it is just an extra monthly bill and not a small one.

  11. oh boy..... ok..... thanks for trying.

    maybe the Congress will earmark some stimulus package for Christopher's broadband upgrade. :)


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