The Small Ones

Larter 3, a new painting from a series that may be inspired by the astral zone (but you can never be too sure)

Outside History

These are outsiders, always. These stars—
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened
thousands of years before
our pain did; they are, they have always been
outside history.
They keep their distance. Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and
a landscape in which you know you are mortal.
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:
out of myth in history I move to be
part of that ordeal
who darkness is
only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.
How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late. We are always too late.

–Eavan Boland

Boland’s poem screamed off the page at me today. Whoa. My full immersion in Borges’ magus-like book Seven Nights clearly has a self defensive aspect to it as well as the undeniable appeal of Borges’ brilliance. When our collective experience takes us into a dark phase of feeling outraged as well as impotent (as we now have with the gushing well in the Gulf), a strong defense is needed to counter the toxicity.

Borges has been my refuge for several days as has another book, The Eyes of the Skin, by the architect Juhani Pallasmaa (more, lots more, to come on that extraordinary treatise.) We are also being nurtured by the effectiveness of DVD distraction therapy, that “take me out of my life and tell me a story POWERFULLY” approach to viewing. Our current favorite is Michael Kitchen in Foyle’s War that brings to life compellingly tales of the struggles of the English during World War II. It is so much better than its description.

But Boland’s poem pulled me upright, awakening me out of the protective haze long enough to accept, once again, what a mess this is. It is a mess I don’t know how to approach, resolve or rationalize let alone solve. Maybe you too are dodging in and out of full awareness of this ongoing tragedy.

In the meantime, another distraction opportunity lies ahead: The long-awaited marriage of a friend. Tomorrow I leave for the indescribable magic of Assateague Island on the southern shore of Maryland where I will witness and celebrate a beach wedding for Kristin and David. Wild horses will be in the periphery (or that is the hope!), and the thought of them, still running wild, brings me a small and quiet comfort. And I have learned to never underestimate the power of small things.

I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Assateague Island horses (Photo: National Park Service)

4 Replies to “The Small Ones”

  1. Boland’s an absolute stunner.

    Just last night I came across Poets for Living Waters: Creating Venues for Poetry in Support of Healthy Ocean Communities. They are planning an online periodical and other activities in response to the oil disaster. A call for poems has been issued.

    Have a wonderful time in Assateague. I love when the horses run.

  2. Diana Johnson says:

    It is the small things in life that keep me connected to this complicated disaster, that keep me from distancing the unmanageable, that keeps my head out of the sand and gives me hope.

  3. As I have seen aerial views of the oil on the surface of the gulf waters, I have thought of your paintings, which seem to have organic inspirations. The oil sheen creates beautiful images.

  4. Thanks. Didn’t know Boland, _Seven Nights_, or Pallasmaa. Plus, it’s going to take me days and days to check out your Blog roll.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: