In my studio yesterday, I felt some of the old familiar feelings of “flow”, a sense of things that invariably calls up an unforgettable line from Mary Oliver: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” It’s a quiet place, that soft animal of my body right now. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will result in a trove of brilliant paintings. The soft animal of the body is just the beginning of a long, long process.
Meanwhile the city of Boston is aflutter with Celtics pride, a gaggle of green shirted fans clogging the streets while duckboats full of extremely tall men bring on paroxysms of cheers. This morning the Boston Globe ran a piece called “Winner Takes All the Envy” countering the city’s euphoria with an article about how hated Boston fans have become. One New Yorker was quoted saying, “You used to think about lovable losers. Now they’re all out. They want to show off.” Probably true. After years of suffering, Boston sports fans are, well, a bit over the top. (I include myself in this.)
With so much euphoria so evident everywhere here, this is probably the perfect day to offer up a counterposition that comes at life from the other end. This poem by Fleur Adcock is more in the vein of the via negativa than most of her work, but its dark power is one I know.
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
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