Friday, December 2, 2016

"It seemed that we had hardly begun and we were already there" by Lyn Hejinian

It seemed that
we had hardly
begun and we were
already there
We see only the leaves and branches of the trees close in around the house.  Those submissive games were sen-sual.  I was no more than three or four years old, but when crossed I would hold my breath, not from rage but from stubbornness,   until   I   lost   con‑
sciousness.  The shadows one day deeper.  Every family has its own collection of stories, but not every family has someone to tell them.  In a small studio in an old farmhouse, it is the musical expression of a glowing optimism.  A bird would reach but be secret.  Absence of allusion: once, and ring alone.  The downstairs telephone was in a little room as dark as a closet.  It made a difference between the immediate and the sudden in a theater filled with transitions.  Without what can a person function as the sea functions without me.  A typical set of errands.  My mother stood between us and held our hands as we waded into the gray-blue water, lecturing us on the undertow, more to add to the thrill of the approaching water than to warn us of any real danger, since she would continue to grip us by the hand when the wave came in and we tried to jump over it.  The curve of the rain, more, comes over more often.  Four seasons circle a square year.  A mirror set in the crotch of the tree was like a hole in the out-of-doors.  I could have ridden in the car forever, or so it seemed, watching the scenery go by, alert as to the circumstances of a dream, and that peaceful.  Roller coast.  The fog lifts a late sunrise.  There are floral twigs in position on it.  The roots of the locust tree were lifting the corner of the little cabin.  Our unease grows before the newly restless.  There you are, and you know it’s good, and all you have to do is make it better.  He sailed to the war.  A life no more free than the life of a lost puppy.  It became popular and then we were inundated with imitations.  My old aunt entertained us with her lie, a story about an event in her girlhood; a catastrophe in a sailboat that never occurred, but she was blameless, unaccountable, since, in the course of the telling, she had come to believe the lie herself.  A kind of burbling in the waters of inspiration.  Because of their recurrence, what had originally seemed merely details of atmosphere became, in time, thematic.  As if sky plus sun must make leaves.  A snapdragon volunteering in the garden among the cineraria gapes its maw between the fingers, and we pinched the buds of the fuchsia to make them pop.  Is that willful.  Inclines.  They have big calves because of those hills.  Flip over small stones, dried mud.  We thought that the mica might be gold.  A pause, a rose, something on paper, in a nature scrapbook.  What follows a strict chronology has no memory.  For me, they must exist, the contents of that absent reality, the objects and occasions which now I reconsidered.  The smells of the house were thus a peculiar mix of heavy interior air and the air from outdoors lingering over the rose bushes, the camellias, the hydrangeas, the rhododendron and azalea bushes.  Hard to distinguish hunger from wanting to eat.  My grandmother was in the kitchen, her hands on her hips, wearing what she called a “washdress,” watching a line of ants cross behind the faucets of the sink, and she said to us, “Now I am waging war.” There are strings in the terrible distance.  They are against the blue.  The trees are continually receiving their own shadows.

Source of the text - Lyn Hejinian, My Life.   Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1987, p. 12-13.

TJB: Self-centoed. Tropes of matriarchs, water images, and plants recur in these sprung sentences reconsidering “objects and occasions.”

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