This is it. Bottom of the belly of the bowl of the dark time. I'm resting here for a minute, after a flurry of sending out new poems, another essay, thinking about work.
There's so much to say and I'm not sure what is worth saying. Yesterday, doing last minute Christmas shopping in Berkeley with C (no, we're not very organized, but hey, this is not my holiday,) I loved how russet and yellow and orange and brown the leaves were, piled in thick clumps on the street, or still full on the trees. And by the time they fall completely and the branches are naked and black, new green buds and blades and leaves will be pushing and pulsing out. That's how it is around here. There's no real dormancy the way there is on the East Coast, where a blanket of snow covers everything and you have to sit inside and make soup and read.
Among other gifties we bought skeins and skeins of wool to give to a sister-in-law who is a knitter. I bought two skeins for myself and started in on an oyster-colored scarf for C that is already too fat--he likes them skinnier--but the wool, called "Fisherman's Wool" feels so smooth and soft in my hands.
We've been watching a filmed stage version of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," with a young, very buff and very beautiful Marlon Brando in the role of Mark Antony. He was wonderful! And James Mason--again, very young--is fantastic as Brutus. It's illuminating to see these actors whom I mostly know from their later lesser work doing Shakespeare--and doing it really well. After we're done with this one, we've got my favorite Antony and Cleopatra to watch--I love that play! It's great to watch them after having seen Rome--now that we know the significance of Phillippi (sp?) and Actium.
Mostly though, I'm trying to pause and appreciate. Because this year was wonderful and terrible. Wonderful: we had a great wedding, with beloved friends and family helping us celebrate. We danced to At Last and C dipped me! We savored being with my father, my stepmother, my sisters and brothers his brothers, our cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews and Little Sister. I have never believed that a wedding creates a marriage--how could it be so arbitrary? but this year we joined each others' families and consecrated our own.
But this year was also terrible: Carla's health got worse faster than anticipated, with a lot of accompanying heartbreak and suffering. I don't know what else to say about that except that it gigantically sad and unacceptable and wrong to be losing my beautiful funny talented wise friend and for her to be losing everyone and everything so young.
And on a different scale, our beloved Dede died, C had his car accident, and of course the economy tanked, taking with it most of my free-lance work and the full-time jobs and savings accounts of some dear friends.
It was also wonderful that my book came out: See How We Almost Fly, available from Pearl Editions. And that we got to go East to celebrate my father's 75th birthday with him. The youngest person at the party was our 14-month nephew Liam, who was cruising around, supremely oblivious to sharp corners of glass coffee tables, like the Divine Fool in the Tarot deck, while his mother and grandmother and I chased close behind, throwing our bodies in front of sharp edges and calling out, "Don't step on the baby!" to the hordes of other larger grandchildren.
And the oldest person at the party was my father's cousin Arthur who is 83 and claims to have gotten all over France after World War 2 with one sentence in french Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?"
As I said above, in this climate you can keep going all year round without stopping. Nature doesn't stop here--she's always working away at her next project, blooming and dying simultaneously. So if we don't take it upon ourselves to pause for a moment and breathe deeply and go out and look at the garden, then it will just keep rolling over us.
Yesterday at Interplayce I danced with a 90-ear-old woman. I was going to say "You could see she had been beautiful in her youth," but the truth is, she is still very beautiful, twinkling and graceful and flirtatious and adventurous. She and her family are going to the place where the whales mate for her birthday.
Even though this and everything else I see is a poem, I'm trying to let it all rest just for a bit--trying to let life go by for a minute without pouncing on it and making art out of everything. Even though there are scribbled drafts in my notebook, even though the latest Poets & Writers arrived yesterday, even though I think that no matter how much I've published or won or done it's still not enough--I'm trying to just let that go. Because I think it's good for everything to take time off, to knit a scarf or re-pot a small bright red begonia plant that I received as a gift yesterday, or make fried rice or just walk up in the hills and look and look...