The poem 100 Riverside almost memorized with a memory of the snow

Tuesday February 16 2010

Snow again, but this time huge flakes, like lacy pie pans falling from gunmetal sky and yet not sticking. And so I take my winter poem and walk to jury duty. I love when I can slip in my memory and movement with an errand. Usually it requires schlepping too many parcels back home and so I take the bike, my mule, for that type of excursion. But now it is just me trudging to the Court House.

Walking is, as I have said, so slow. I feel as if I need to be medicated to adjust to the pace, over and over this sensation hits me. And then there is that moment when I just give up. Akin to taking a long plane ride, when there is no way out, no choice but to just surrender. But with flying at the other end is India, the arctic, Patagonia. OK walking to the Court House is not that dramatic, and certainly not that long, but it requires surrender on my part. And there is a line in this poem, which I has eluded me.

I let go, as passivest listeners listen, to sift the city,

The words are tough, but it was the concept of I LET GO, which I couldn’t get. I relaxed, I concentrated, I lingered, and there were a host of phrases, which popped into my head before I cold even wrapped my lips around I LET GO. And so I thought in the snow, let go and let the words come in. Let go and see what is around you.

And I saw the painting on a construction site wall, a fanciful light filled drawing glued to the plywood barrier, I saw a new bakery, with the windows misted and solitary coffee drinkers hunched over steamy cups with a sugary delight. I saw a construction workers disassembling the decorative iron on the outside of a building and carefully numbering each piece as it came down. I saw the faces of the world laid out in the crazy quilt we all love, as it is our city. Wide flat faces squinting into the bins of crabs in Chinatown, a woman in furs with a tote bag, which read hopefully Le weekend a la mer, and I shivered thinking about a seaside weekend right now. There were workers cutting forsythia in a new fancy florist and enormous bouquets being carted out for someone who is not pinching pennies.

When I landed at jury duty I sat between Myrna, up from Orlando Florida, where she moved last year and hence will not have to serve here on the island of Manhattan, and Betty from the Bronx who is a conspiracy theorist who believes no one gets a fair shake and the government has bugged her mail box. This waiting room is a microcosm of the stories, accents, and energies, which crammed my city.

I sat with my poem, which I unfolded and folded; read and recited and repeated the process. The paper is now taped to prevent unraveling in a winter pocket. Betty wanted to know why I had to keep reading it since I had been studying at it for quite a bit. Well I find it hard, and I can’t seem to get it to stick in my head, I shared. Little did I realize that this would unleash another torrent of conspiracy positing the idea that perhaps I too had been infiltrated by the government and they had rewired my brain to be unable to take in new information.  I wonder, is that more or less comforting that the truth, which is middle age?

As I received my notice to return in August, I began to review my poem and I was gratified that the entire second stanza seemed pretty firmly implanted. I rolled it over and over in my quiet mouth taking care to not speak out loud and raise the specter of actual governmental interference. I clomped toward home noticing boots, and new pizza shops and swerving locomotion of pedestrians all the while reciting my wintry poem without having to extract it from my pocket and thus expose the words to the raging elements.

Monday February 22, 2010

The exact, the very day of George Washington’s birthday and I see the date and recall with a flash how my mother baked a cherry pie every year for this day. And she told the story of  “ I cannot tell a lie I chopped down the cherry tree with my little hatchet.” I learned to eat pie much better than I learned veracity.

I learned to lie as it kept a sort of tenuous peace in my fractured growing up world and now truth is a state I struggle to attain and maintain. A constant check and cross check. I saw it this weekend when we invited my goddaughter and her parents and itty-bitty sister up to the county with us. What do we tell kids is the truth and what must we fabricate to keep our lives and theirs a tad less complicated. Yin and yang come and go the balance of truth and half-truth and bald-faced lies.

Thursday February 25, 2010

A magical paper cutter sits in the sky furiously snipping edges from pure white stock and letting it fall to earth as snow. Another snowstorm, which makes me, feel as if I am free from considering walking and eating less.

I write as if and I flash to the final part of my poem where the poet says. AS IF it is what it is. .

I am nearly done with the poem and the month and I marvel at how quickly words come as the month nears end. Is it because all tasks take the time allotted? Is there is learning curve which kicks in and ignites my memory, anyone’s memory when you stay at something long enough?

I am fascinated by the connective tissues of learning work and then how memory degrades over time. I had lunch yesterday with a colleague, (I say she is my same vintage); she is chic, thin and certainly doesn’t want to be tarred with the brush of actual age. We discussed memory. She shared that of late she is terrified of having to introduce people. I know that fear. A random name pops into my head and my own child’s name leaves me cold. I now often say, how happy I am to see someone and ask if they would help me with their name.

This works fine. The embarrassing danger appears when I introduce Jim as Bob, of Jennifer as Jessica. You see I can’t ascertain any difference in those names. I am great with Azikiwe or Miranda or Holly If I have only one in my group then they are burned into memory, but by the time the fifth Amanda, Jane, or Susan appears I have to find a memory trick to lock them in my head. And at the lighting speed of introduction those tricks often can’t be annexed. And so we appear daft or addled.

It is as if the old rifts in the reft being were annealed

My mind jumps, I find that the new words, the poet’s words are drumming in my head and shoving other words out of the way. I like that. When I write annexed, it sends me to annealed in the poem. I was writng a grant proposal, one of the few forms of writng, which is not a lovely unpaid hobby anymore, and the word endeared came to me. I have NEVER used that word before and now I feel as if I own it.

A strange thing has been happening; I keep losing the poem. I left it in my shirt pocket in the country this weekend. I then typed and printed another one out and left it at pottery, and now this morning, as I prepare to walk in the snow crunch to my lunch meeting, I had to print out another copy. I thought I had it while I cooked dinner last night hammering words while I caramelized onions, but today it has vanished with the clean dishes, all vestiges of dinner gone.

100 Riverside Drive:

Waking up at Mari’s

By Anne Winters

The city through her back-bedroom window: a shift-

ing of trash cans ( snow-crunch of galvanized steel), gear

sounds drowned in metal hulls, horns now: one by one to lift,

fine tune, and weigh my home town: here, here!

I let go, as passivest listeners listen, to sift

the city, naming sounds, for named sounds near

or distant make a depth where my too deft

attention – deep and troubled, city too endeared—

can lose itself. Always to arrive, and hear

on such first wakings everything that lives

within me sigh, as if to say all’s well, all’s here.

as if the old rifts, in this reft

being were annealed. – AS IF is what it is. It’s theft

of all that is. And nothing else is dear.


3 responses to “The poem 100 Riverside almost memorized with a memory of the snow

  1. Peter Storandt

    Oy, that Betty is everywhere.

  2. Well in my mind she at least.
    Funny to have someone who remembers her as Betty as she changed her name to Liz, in fact it was right before she turned 60, so at the moment i am now.
    Perhaps I should change my name?? Never thought of it

  3. Wicki,
    In the midst of our age of digital distraction, I love reading about a simpler form of multitasking — memorizing a poem while carmelizing an onion.

    I’ll be checking in here often.
    — Marci

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