No End To the Making of Books

The wind started blowing again last night. Noise you just can’t get away from. I got up for my usual routine this morning. I stretched. My joints are expressing their age. I drank coffee and read Isaiah 11 aloud. I’m not sure there’s a more beautiful stretch of words in the whole Bible. It’s been hard to believe it lately. That passage. The beauty is something which makes it feel more sad. In the fireplace flue, the wind was blowing. Noise you can’t escape. I used newspaper as tinder. I read Isaiah again and wondered if I ought to get a different translation. Make it new again. A novelty of words.

Once when I was younger, my granny complained that strawberries had lost their flavor. Last summer we grew some and I realized strawberries had never had taste before.

The wind whistles through the windows. We vacuum dust from the sills once a week. Noise.

I was going to mow. I was going to transplant rose bushes for my wife. I was going to write. I write wind. All writing is wind. I got in bed this afternoon. I haven’t taken a nap since my body tried to make me while driving home from work. The rumble strip on the shoulder woke me up. Before that, I don’t remember. Guilt, obligations, promises to keep, wind but not a gentle sweep.

Why write? I’ve read writers who broke something open in me, besides ambition and besides guilt, scratched the germ and set me growing. Isaiah. Why did he write? I’m not sure I get to claim his same inspiration.

Mary Oliver is on my nightstand.

So many notions fill the day! I give them
gowns of words, sometimes I give them
little shoes that rhyme.
What an elite life!
While somewhere someone is kissing a face that is crying.
While somewhere women are walking out, at two in the morning—many miles to find water.
While somewhere a bomb is getting ready to explode.

Notions. Wind. She feels it, too? I guess she solved it. She kept writing.

Next page.

How good
that the clouds travel, as they do,
like the long dresses of the angels
of our imagination,…
…and how good…and how good…and how good…and how good…
and so on, and so on.

List the good. At least that. She ends it there: and so on. There’s too much good to list. There is, I know. But there’s so much wind. The clouds travel like bombs getting ready to explode. I can dress them in gowns, but can my imagination make them angels?

Actual angels visited Isaiah. Angels with live coals seared the buds of his tongue. Did he ever taste strawberries again?

He kept writing. Faith in his hands though he was sawn in two. None of that “heads of characters hammer through daisies” resurrection-as-organic-process noise. Dylan Thomas makes me sing but the song dies windily. The beauty makes it more sad for what he says.

Up the coast of Wales, and Thomas’s own influence:

High there, how he hung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! Then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding,
Stirred for a bird…

Hopkins, teach me to windhover. For whom did you write?

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