[AEQUUS] a smooth or level surface, expanse, surface; a level stretch of ground, plain; inmensumne noctis aequor confecimus? have we made it across the vast plain of night? the surface of the sea especially as considered as calm and flat, a part of the sea, a sea; per aperta volans aequora soaring over the open sea; the waters of a river, lake, sea; tibi rident aequora ponti the waters of the sea laugh up at you.
– Anne Carson, Nox
This summer, I ate well. I ate very well. I discovered farm fresh heirloom tomatoes, salted and oiled and plated with strips of fragrant basil, the perfect richness of duck roulettes. The different, subtle, minerally complexities of white wine. How lemon and slight citrus can transform a heavy dish —say pasta with cream. That lightness with the richness which gives it an ethereal quality. There is just something about amazing food that makes you appreciate the sudden, immediate moment. When you put it in your mouth a part of you surrenders. All your defenses drop. I give in you say because all your nerve endings are firing and you live suddenly in a world of flavor and heat and cold and texture. Sometimes I want to translate what I’m eating into words and if I’m with a companion it is fun to guess what the cook is doing what they were thinking perhaps even the history and evolution of the dish. There are so many elements of story telling in that moment. And then it disappears into the cavern of your stomach and you go home with the just the memory of the meal. Maybe even the periphery of the experience. I want to talk and tell about what I eat. I guess that’s why I’m beginning this part of my writing.
Where I live in the far north of Scotland, the question of light is an axis central to every season, to every day. In the topmost branches of June, the skies turn navy blue just before midnight and hover there until about 3:00 when the sun comes blooming up again.
At the turn of the year, on the other hand, a long lunch folds itself into the evening before you know it, and then into night-night blackness until way after the school bell in the morning.
A fisherman I know from a nearby village told me one day that he and his brothers had long ago pulled up a massive turtle, far from its tropical home, onto the deck of their boat in the North Sea off the east coast of Scotland. He described how it lay there, unfathomably exotic and helpless amongst the mackerel, and that he would never forget their discussion about its fate.
‘What is it? No idea. Let’s kill it.’ Which they did. He said he had never regretted anything so much in his life, that he knew something failed in them at that moment.
We know what threatens our humanity the most; we shouldn’t need reminding.
The capacity to project our own shadow onto others, to edit our understanding of our own frailty, to hold it at bay, to play tag with our vulnerabilities. You’re It, don’t touch me. Our attachment to an idea of malevolent foreignness, of malign darkness: this is our Kryptonite… we know this well.
Over the weeks that my mother was dying, the year before last, I went out into the nights and trained my eyes to see in the dark.
It provided a particular kind of comfort undiscovered anywhere else at that time. By then I had sat in the Chapel and the serene witness of Rothko’s velvet abyss accompanied me on those nightwalks. The truth is, it’s never been very far away, ever since.
Maybe most of all great art encourages us, as does this film, as does Rothko, not to stop at opening our eyes, but to go on to close them, as well. To go to what we know deepest, earliest and most clearly: that we humans are, in essence, humane, fair, kind. Gracious. Light-filled. Wise. And that our darkness is just what it is: an intrinsic and balancing ballast to all that loveliness.
You are a coin I keep under my tongue
in case I get to close a dead man’s eyes.
You are the galaxy’s dense materials
and the pull they exert on my heart.
So soft, you are invisible to touch.
I wish you could come back and rap me
like a wall for my hidden chambers.
I wish you could lick me newborn clean.
Where have you gone, taking your wrists
and the writing across them? Where have you
taken your dark gaze and your moods
turning like stars in the black? I still can’t sleep
the bed’s center for fear of crowding you.
This light’s star is long gone and I have your
sweat in a shirt, sweating body now bone-gravel
and flora. Come back. Sound my deep and I
will fathom you. I want your sinister
yearnings, your villainous deeds. I want your
sky-haunted eyes, in which I burn blue.
I am an angel with flames where her wings go–
love my brazen catastrophe. Lay your
hands on me. I want your baptism,
your Pentecost, your rapture, your return.
– said Rebecca Lindenberg
I am guessing this is for her longtime partner–the poet Craig Arnold— who went missing on the small volcanic island of Kuchinoerabujima, Japan in July, 2009.
Also, see Love, An Index.
A typical Saturday morning is that I boil water in a self heating kettle and forget about it. It shuts itself off and I hear the click. I go to my room and fall into a dreamless sleep. The sky opens up and pours out electric rain, flashes of light that I can see through my lid skin. Who am I again.