Ups, and Downs

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
and worse.

7 Replies to “Ups, and Downs”

  1. Diana Johnson says:

    Ray-Ray, KG and Paul Pierce were fantabulous! I loved every minute! And of course Kobe showed his true colors as we watched his tirades against his teammates.

  2. D, we have our basketball sisterhood in tact. I love that you were cheering Boston on from the Burgh.

    I think KG is the anti-Kobe–he’s just about the most emotional athlete I’ve ever seen. I was in tears the night they won to see his ecstasy. It is so unedited, so authentic. What a great bunch of guys.

    According to my “basketball genius” son (that is self proclaimed BTW) the Celtics will win it again next year. Oh what a trip to even think about that…

    The parade today was utterly joyful. The kids were out of school, and there were millions of them.

    And how cool that KG jerseys are the best selling in all of the NBA. Take that, Mr Kobe. No more Michael Jordan comparisons. Ever.

  3. The only Celtics I am aware of is the soccer team. Am totally ignorant of basketball, although fing it most exciting to watch. we do not utter the word “Celtics” in our house and withing the hearing of our daughter-in-law as she is a diehard Rangers fan. The first time i met her, when our son brought her home to meet us, i was swathed in a Celtics scarf. Now she thinks me a complete dork. Do figure.
    i hope the new ‘flow” in the studio augurs many good hours of painting for you. G

  4. Boston has a sports team for every season, doesn’t it?

    But what I really wanted to say is, I loved the poem you published. It has a fluidity to it, and so concise. Sheesh, what I’d give to write like that!

    Speaking of writing, this post struck me as particularly well-written. It captured a moment. I liked reading it.

  5. G, thank you for reminding us in Boston that there are other teams named Celtics! We get myopic about some things.

    YBonesy, I’m so glad you connected with the Adcock poem. I have been devouring her volume of collected poems for several weeks now. She is remarkable.

    And I really appreciate your words of praise. Coming from a writer they are particularly meaningful to me.

  6. A great line form Mary Oliver…let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. .. words to live by.

    I think of Boston and New England as home, although I haven’t lived there in years. I do get back to see family and friends when I can.

    I’m falling asleep at my keyboard.

    Thanks for the Fleur Adcock, too. Remarkable.

  7. Thanks Rick. I’m so glad you connected with the poem.

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