"Oh, wonderfully bright at 6 a.m., yes, wonderfully clear for an hour. But the shorter the days, the longer the nights, the darker the house, the easier it is, the easier it is, the easier it is, to mistake a shadow for the writing on the wall, the sound of overland footsteps for the distant crack of thunder, and the midnight chime of a New Year clock for the bell that tolls the end of the world."
- Zadie Smith
"All I ask," my mother said, "no matter the years
and the life we have, is that when you leave
you turn and wave." That was long ago.
I like to remember - I turn, I wave.
- William Stafford
Already it is too late
to start over. So many people
I'll never be, things I won't do.
Why list them? Soon the years ahead
will be too few to maneuver among
and I won't be able to lie, even to myself.
As in a cave at low tide, echoes resound,
not in the spaciousness of possibility,
but in limitation. And isn't this good?
To say, "Yes, I haven't. That's right, I never did."
- Carole Glasser Langille
Late In A Slow Time
Morning in a New Land
In trees still dripping night some nameless birds
Woke, shook out their arrowy wings, and sang,
Slowly, like finches sifting through a dream.
The pink sun fell, like glass, into the fields.
Two chestnuts, and a dapple gray,
Their shoulders wet with light, their dark hair streaming,
Climbed the hill. The last mist fell away,
And under the trees, beyond time's brittle drift,
I stood like Adam in his lonely garden
On that first morning, shaken out of sleep,
Rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,
Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift.
- Mary Oliver
Eternity is non evident. There's this endless rotation of the
sun in the skull, the stillness outside, and a storm within.
At least a river is always flowing in some part of the country.
Winds, always gathering speed, shatter the order of things.
- Etel Adnan
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
My daughter's choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.
- Clive James
"Memory, and time, both immaterial, are rivers with no banks, and constantly merging. Both escape our will, though we depend on them. Measured, but measured by whom or by what? The one is inside, the other, outside, or so it seems, but is that true? Time seems also buried deep in us, but where? Memory is right here, in the head, but it can exit, abandon the head, leave it behind, disappear. Memory, a sanctuary of infinite patience.
Is memory produced by us, or is it us? Our identity is very likely whatever our memory decides to retain. But let's not presume that memory is a storage room. It's not a tool for being able to think, it's thinking, before thinking. It also makes an (apparently) simple thing like crossing the room, possible. It's impossible to separate it from what it remembers."
"We can admit that memory resurrects the dead, but these remain within their world, not ours. The universe covers the whole, a warm blanket.
But this memory is the glue that keeps the universe as one: although immaterial, it makes being possible, it is being. If an idea didn't remember to think, it wouldn't be. If a chair wasn't there, it wouldn't be tomorrow. If I didn't remember that I am, I won't be. We can also say that the universe is itself the glue that keeps it going, therefore it is memory in action and in essence, in becoming and in being. Because it remembers itself, it exists. Because it exists, it remembers."
- Etel Adnan
"I myself felt invisible for a period of time, incorporeal. I seemed to have crossed one of those legendary rivers that divide the living from the dead, entered a place in which I could be seen only by those who were themselves recently bereaved. I understood for the first time the power in the image of the rivers, the Styx, the Lethe, the cloaked ferryman with his pole. I understood for the first time the meaning in the practice of suttee. Widows did not throw themselves on the burning raft out of grief. The burning raft was instead an accurate representation of the place to which their grief (not their families, not the community, not custom, their grief) had taken them."
- Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking