The change of seasons is more important to me now than months or weeks. Approaching my second spring since I got sick.
I am grateful that I usually sleep through the night.
The Old Fisherman
â€”KhÃ´ng Lá»™ (d. 1119)
The river flows a thousand miles under an endless sky.
Wisps of smoke float over a village ringed with mulberry trees.
An old fisherman sleeps on the bank. No one disturbs him.
When he awakens at dusk, his boat is ghostly with frost.
La Lingvo de Poezio
Edukita viro, Ngo Dinh Diem,
kredis je la povo de vortoj
okazigi ÅanÄon en la mond’
d’ aferoj. Do, laÅ poezia gest’
li renomis la danÄerajn provincojn
okcidente de lia Ä‰efurbo, vokante ilin
Há»©a NghÄ©a, literatura kliÅaÄµo kiu signifas
/promeso je lojaleco/. Li vokis
la urbocentro KhiÃªm CÆ°á»ng,
/modesta sed vigla/, anstatauxigante
la malnovan nomon Báº§u Tráº¡i, /ronda bieno/.
Je la somero de 1963 la vort’
fariÄas karnon. La prezidanto celis
trompi la spiritojn de l’ aer’ kaj la ter’
kiu dumlonge loÄis en tiu loko,
sed ili ne trompiÄis, eÄ‰ per poezio.
Note: “The Language of Poetry” appeared first in Field & was the included in my book Magical Thinking (Ohio St. Univ. Press, 2001). I was going through old files recently & came across this translation. I wish I knew who translated it, but all I know is that it was someone who contacted me online & that it appeared on an Esperanto website.
- I spent the formative years of my childhood about halfway between the Mystery Spot (Santa Cruz) & the Winchester Mystery Houseâ„¢ (San Jose), so it is no wonder that I developed–& have held onto over decades–a feel for the occult. Add to these theÂ Rosicrucian Egyptian MuseumÂ Â & you have a recipe for addle-headed New Age bunkum I feel lucky to have escaped.
2. Looking back, I can’t imagine why my step-father, a fundamentalist Christian of the restricted type, took me to such places. His brand of Christianity has a terrorÂ of the occult that goes back to the burning of “witches” & continues into the present with Jack Chick’sÂ manichÃ¦an vision of the supernatural battle between God & Satan as it plays out among human beings: they were–& still are, I guess–very big on the doctrine of original sin, especially as it applies to children. Chick’s tracts were all over the church we attended, but they failed to take hold of my spiritual imagination. Even aged 10, something told me not to be taken in.
3. But that makes my resistance to my parents’ fundamentalism appear more heroic & far more coherent than it was. As a child, I was often filled with fear.1 It didn’t help that we lived in a large Victorian house–not the Mystery House by any stretch of the imagination, but big & old enough to contain spooks. The place had been converted to a “rest home” for the ambulatory elderly & my mother had been hired by some Christian organization to run the place. We lived upstairs, though I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, the only place my mother ever seemed happy.
4. There was a stained glass window on the landing of the main stairs thatÂ depicted an abstract floral design & beneath the flowers, a scroll with the name Elsie. The local lore–passed along by a neighbor when we first moved in–was the man who built the house had given the window to his young bride on the occasion of their wedding. The story grows dark, though, as the owner is increasingly jealous. First, he locks Elsie upstairs & tells the neighbors she is ill. Eventually, he grows so possessive that he restricts her to the master bedroom. She refuses to eat & dies–she dies in the room where I sleep from age 6 to 12. There is reason the believe, then, that the house was haunted–at least in the imagination of an anxious child.
5. I had a precocious vocabulary & saying my prayers at night, I would run through the standard list of praying for my mother & father, but would always end by praying that “no catastrophes befall us in the night.” I was afraid of Elsie’s ghost, afraid the place might burn down, afraid of burglars, & just blankly afraid, especially at night.
6. They say that the Winchester Mystery House is haunted–& well it may be. It was built by the widow of William Wirt Winchester, the treasurer of the eponymous manufacturer of firearms. William was the second generation of the family to work for the company founded by his father. After William’s death, his wife Sarah built the Mystery House, which, some say, is haunted by the ghosts of all the people killed by Winchester firearms. That would be a lot of ghosts, but being incorporeal beings, perhaps a million of them could walk up & down the staircase that led only to a blank wall.
When I think about time now, what with all my dreams, hallucinations & instances of deja vu, I can only conclude that everything that has ever happened is happening right now, in the present moment.