by Angeliska on November 5, 2016
Ô saisons ô châteaux,
Quelle âme est sans défauts ?
Ô saisons, ô châteaux,
J’ai fait la magique étude
Du Bonheur, que nul n’élude.
Ô vive lui, chaque fois
Que chante son coq gaulois.
Mais ! je n’aurai plus d’envie,
Il s’est chargé de ma vie.
Ce Charme ! il prit âme et corps.
Et dispersa tous efforts.
Que comprendre à ma parole ?
Il fait qu’elle fuie et vole !
Ô saisons, ô châteaux !
Et, si le malheur m’entraîne,
Sa disgrâce m’est certaine.
Il faut que son dédain, las !
Me livre au plus prompt trépas !
- Ô Saisons, ô Châteaux !
Well, they say in Texas that if you don’t like the weather – just wait around five minutes and it’ll change! Or was that Mark Twain about New England? Anyway, we’ve definitely adopted it as truth down here, and it just goes to show… Since my last post about it being so unseasonably damn hot and dry, a blessed cool front rolled in (finally!) and a raucous rainstorm soaked us good. The turning of seasons always feels poignant to me, and I seek to mark it, always coming to write here so as not to let it get away from me. And thus, this space has become a place where I remark upon the changing light and apologize to unknown readers for not writing more often, not posting any kind of regular updates about this and that in the way I used to. I don’t need to, in the way I once seemed to – or, I only need to sometimes. And this is one of those odd times – up late when I should be sleeping and enjoying a last night of rest in my sweet bed after hours of meticulous over packing. I fly to Morocco in the morning. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, international travel has felt dire to me. I didn’t realize it until the summer before last, when I flew to Colombia. It was the first time I’d left the country in ten years. The last time before that, I’d been a month in Serbia, Greece and Spain with my grandfather, and flew back two days before the storm hit. It didn’t occur to me until I was having a fairly severe panic attack en route to the airport to fly to Bogota, and took me a while to calm down and realize what it was all about. My body remembered, a glitch in my nervous system, telling me: “The last time I went far away like this, I came back and my life was irrevocably changed.” I was convinced on some deep level that it was the last time I would ever see my house, my dogs, my friends. Because that did happen once before. The last time.
I’ve been musing on the fact that not everyone obsesses about tying up loose ends before an international vacation. That they just excitedly get ready, and go – on a relaxing and enjoyable vacation. I’m trying to get my brain around that part, and it may catch up and hit me somewhere over the Atlantic tomorrow night that I’m about to have an enormous amount of fun, and be completely dazzled by the wonders of Marrakech and the bright stars above the Sahara. In the meantime, I’m mildly freaking out about the scores of emails I never wrote, thank you cards not sent, writing my will, kissing my dogs goodbye seventeen times (apiece), and you know – other important stuff like writing this. Why so dire? I have been reaching out to friends I haven’t talked to in a while, and feeling bad about the ones I haven’t made contact with yet. Because what if I die? What if that giant meteor everyone wants to vote for hits us and we all die? I know it’s not logical at all – that it’s my nervous system doing its weird PTSD thing, but it still seems very possible to me. I’ve been thinking about mortality a lot – in a good way, rather than in shitty morbid way (a la my teenage years). It’s part of why I jumped at the chance to go on this adventure to Morocco despite the fact that it’s financially a little terrifying for me right now. Because life is short, and what if this is my only chance to go? I don’t want to leave this earth having never seen Morocco. Not to mention that I get to go with a fantastic crew of my favorite folks, and celebrate my best friend’s birthday! What could be more amazing than that? I think the word for what I’m feeling is “anxietment”. It’s like excitement, but with anxiety added! I’m like a dog that loves to go places but feels worried about riding in the car. Kind of happy nervous panting. I’ve been reading Paul Bowles again before this trip (of course), and thinking about his wise words that I’m sure I’ve referenced here at least once or twice before. They’re so true, I don’t mind doing so again:
“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
and this too:
“The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.”
― Paul Bowles, The Spider’s House
I’ve been focusing on that more and more – staying present for those miraculously perfect moments, and realizing that my life is wonderfully full of them! I am happier and more content than I have been in years – and it’s an amazing feeling. A hard earned place to arrive at, after a lot of really deep healing work, internal metamorphosis, and growth. I had to walk through a lot of darkness, loneliness, fear and fire to get here. I know how quickly it can all change, so I seek to savor it, to stay in this place of remembering how to connect to the source of my own joy as much as possible. I learned that when you protect yourself from pain, you also protect yourself from joy. So I get to see what’s possible when I open my heart completely to both. In some ways, even if I did die tomorrow (or the next day, or the next) I like to think that I’d die happy and content with the life I’ve lived. I several books in me it would severely pain me not to have gotten written. I want to be a published author. (Though, as of this year, I am! See below…) I have a lot of love I’d still like to share. So much more I want to learn in my time here, places I want to travel to, experiences I definitely want to see and feel and know. So I plan to stay alive, for a long, long time, actually. And to stay in this place of strange and surprising happiness as much as I possibly can. It is a choice, sometimes. To be responsible for your own happiness, and responsible for your own suffering (and therefore, not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, or anyone else’s suffering!) Pain is part of life. Not negotiable. It exists for a reason. Suffering is optional. I keep trying to remember that! In the meantime, I will recall and contemplate the bright autumn light, garlands of flowers made for summer queens, morning glories gloriously tangling up fences, all the wonders of my garden, all the love that surrounds me, all the joys I can choose to honor every day. I don’t think I really understood gratitude practice until this year. Not really. But I’m starting to – and it feels so good. I have so much that I am deeply grateful for. It’s really something.
I am so honored and thrilled to have two of my poems published in this amazing Folk Horror Revival’s incredible new anthology Corpse Roads. An epic collection of spellbinding poetry, focusing on folk horror, life, death and the eeriness of the landscape by many creative talents both living and departed. 100% of sales profits from this book are charitably donated to The Wildlife Trusts.
O seasons, O castles,
What soul is blameless?
O seasons, O castles,
I pursued the magic lore
Of Happiness, which no one escapes.
Oh long live to it, every time
That the Gallic cock crows.
But! I shall never want again,
It has taken charge of my life.
That Charm! it took hold of soul and body,
And dissipated every effort.
What to understand about my words?
It makes it flee and vanish into air!
O seasons, O castles!
And, if misfortune takes me away,
Its disgrace with me will be certain.
Its contempt will take me, alas!
To the quickest death!
– O seasons, O castles!
What soul is blameless?
From THE POEMS LOOKED AT: or, NOTES
“Happiness, By Arthur Rimbaud. 1958. It is good to have Rimbaud tell us that the going after happiness is as inevitable for a person as being affected by gravity is for a solid object. The light and the heavy are in seasons and castles, time and edifices. And Rimbaud tells us happiness is a magic study, but we have to give ourselves to it. — As a cock in France crows, you can hail energy in any living being concerned with happiness. Something in us can, irritatingly to self, use self-importance against happiness; but this is a burden. Self-importance can seem to be a charm, but it scatters the energy of self and body. — Again, we must put together the non-weighing seasons and the weighing castles — though both seasons and castles have shape of a kind. — When one definitely goes away from happiness — the hour of flight — death will be yielded to. — Therefore, again, O seasons — O time as visible; and O castles — O weight as white and distant.”
From Hail, American Development (Definition Press) © 1968 by Eli Siegel
And here’s another little poem fragment I found somewhere that wants to be here too:
in this church
the girls sleep
the boys sleep
the old men sleep
torn up by the roots
the women sleep
the children sleep
Greek, anonymous, from “Selected Translations.”
Ciao for now, y’all. Thank you for reading.