the title and subtitle of this blog (and the most recent title of the livejournal that preceded it) are taken from Sylvia Plath’s “Black Rook in Rainy Weather,” a longstanding favorite of mine (since at least high school, which was the first time i think i acknowledged poetry as being a conveyance method for mind-shattering thought and not just an exercise for playing with the rhymes available in my little-kid vocabulary).

the blog itself is an experiment with turning points and coming-of-ages ventures (“ages” isn’t a typo; traditionally, the term “coming-of-age” refers to only the particular transformation of a teen from a child to an adult, at whatever time and through whatever means characterize his or her culture, but i think there are any number of life stages that we move through as we grow that are worthy of their own acknowledgment, ritual, or at least exploration). if you read many blogs, or you read much about blogs, you’ve noticed already that the starting-a-new-blog phenomenon is a pretty common characteristic of a writer wanting to move somehow. like moving houses, it lets one leave a space and enter a new one, with the same furniture and the same basic taste in ornamentation, but with a new set of intentions, a new outlook, and that sense of inevitable loss-and-gain of leaving behind the place where an array of memories happened, where they will always be placed when revisited, and entering a new place where new memories–both glorious and terrible, both shattering and mundane–will be forged. it allows the same combination, too, of real new opportunity (what we tend to call “second chances,” although there’s no governing board out there watching to make sure that anybody gets only two) and its soon-to-be-dashed-upon-the-rocks twin sister illusion: writers gleefully flex their muscles into the chance to speak with a new voice like house-movers plan grandly to build a new self from paint-jars and rummage sales, and then we all find that we are both a little braver at embracing a little more of ourselves that we don’t yet feel that this place has somehow limited and a lot the same as we ever were. which helps, i suppose, explain why after reading twenty years of inspiring poetry, i’m still mining for resonance the first one i ever really loved.

the old stuff is still here.  i thought long and hard about it, and then compromised; the livejournal posts and comments have been imported, but with screening applied.  a few have been embellished with editorial grounding of some sort, because a lot can happen in eight years, not just to an author but also to an authorial voice and a sense of the responsibility it carries.  no small number have been deleted, often because they were based on dead links or images, were the results of internet polls or “memes” from the early 2000s (note i said some had been deleted; the still-active memes i liked remain), or made absolutely no sense this far removed from their original context–sometimes in relation to my imagined audience of today, and sometimes to me as well.  what the hell was i on about, anyway?  because i’m a cancer, even that minutia is still archived somewhere else, but it’s not here, because i’m fully aware that it’s worthless; it’s just against my nature to discard anything that ever was of value, even when it clearly isn’t anymore.   some of them were removed for the sake of prudence: even for a cancer, not every flicker of impulse or imagination needs to be carried on in the public record for all eternity.  just most of them.  so enter the archives at your own risk.  they start right about when i started planning for what i will always be grateful to RMH for giving me the vocabulary to use to dub my “starter marriage,” and i was giddy about some things that look incredibly stupid to me now.  i deleted the daily posts from the week before the wedding that did nothing but worry about the weather: that wasn’t interesting then, let alone eight years later and twelve highway hours away.  but i kept most of the others.  they are, however high their cringe-factor, part of the river of tales that brought me here.

why the poem itself is a favorite and why the lines resonate are both a complicated story i’m not in any hurry to try to unravel in prose, for a number of reasons (most prominent among them that i’d much rather leave folks alone with it and see what they come up with) and a completely undiscovered story, because a good poem, like any good tale, says something new to the reader at every encounter, and i have many many years of reading yet to come. what about it resonates with you, and why do you think it might move me, or if we’re not yet friends, move someone like me?

the full text is below, if you’d like to contemplate the mystery, but it’s not a short text, so wade in only if you actually want wet feet. the obligatory who-i-am blurb is at the bottom, if you just want to skip ahead to there.

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); skeptical
Yet politic, ignorant

Of whatever angel any choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur.
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance
Miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.

as for me, i am: a teacher and sometime-writer, a(n occasionally) published poet with a thick, thick folder of half-finished prose fiction that may never make it to print or completion, a diarist-turned-livejournaler with a history of secret blogging (most of it also unfinished and fictional) on the side, an avid reader of fantasy, science fiction, and “real life” fiction whose favorite stories blur the lines between those categories, a lover of music who’s crap at making her own, and in more familial, binding terms, a lover, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a granddaughter, a niece, an aunt, a daughter and sister in-law, a stepmother, and now a mother, too. in particular, i’m the second wife of my second husband, the partner i’ve chosen to really learn and live my life with, a life entered through trials-by-fire into a joint commitment to get it right this time: second husband, first-and-(may we die blessed by no untimely interruptions to our intentions for this journey) only lifemate. i’m stepmother of a dazzlingly brilliant and infinitely vexing five year old boy, who loves his daddy, loves his mommy, and with no sense of social obligation whatsoever simply loves me too. and most life-changingly yet, i’m newly the mother of a tiny, fierce, painfully loud and desperately adorable little red-headed daughter who doesn’t yet know the first thing about loving anybody, and is going to have to learn the basics from me, so i hope i’m getting them right this time!  in the blinding lights of those three gifts, little can darken the sky for long; when the clouds gather anyway, i tend to bury my hands in the fur of one or both of my beloved cats and reach for the fantasy novels i loved best as a teenager: there’s no better comfort than remembering one’s own worst phase of anguish deliberately and with the wherewithal to love the kid one was, thank her for the infinite lessons she suffered through, sought, and set up for later endurance, and then close the pages and step with gratitude back into one’s chosen adulthood, where one gets to–and has to–write one’s own stories.

for a while, i’ll write some of those here.


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