Sunday, April 29, 2007
Spring Bloom and Kenyon's Deterioration
My mind is surprisingly blank this morning. It's another beautiful day; the weather of late has been sunny and cool, what we expect of the coast. The wildflowers have not yet peaked but cow parsnip is already blooming in its delicate parasols wide as a hand. Scotch broom lines the roadsides; the daffodils are over but wild irises still bloom, along with calla lilies. The wild rhododendron, rhododendron macrophyllum, is blooming beneath the redwoods as well. There are over 10,000 cultivars or subspecies of rhododendron, but this variety is our natural one. Thrift and ice plant color the headlands, with blue-eyed grass and seaside daisies. The yellow mats of first-steps-to-spring have faded. Golden poppies are everywhere. Blue blossom bushes have peaked but it seems the gorse never stops blooming. I could go on and on, just as the wildflowers do here, as our spring color has yet to crescendo.
Kathleen cries about our old dog, Kenyon, nearly every day. Last night she wept about him. "It's not long," she said. He shows symptoms of diabetes now, has cataracts and can barely hear. A neighbor joked with Kathleen: "Now Kenyon needs a hearing-ear dog." What's amazing is that when we take him to Big River Beach, he can still see the plastic bottle thrown on the water and swims like a champion to fetch it. It's in swimming he looks most like himself. When he comes home, however, he lies immobile for hours. He no longer makes it up the stairs at night to sleep near Kathleen. Sometimes when she comes home he doesn't even get up. He has good and bad days. I don't think he's suffering much; his hips hurt when he rises, and his left front leg has bothered him for over a year; he's licked it until the fur has turned from gold to red. His appetite is still good, although one expects that in diabetes. Given his overall condition, we don't think it's important to undertake the treatment of his presumed diabetes as long as he can eat and drink and eliminate and exercise.
The grief Kathleen feels at Kenyon's slow demise is like any grief at the deterioration of a loved one. What she sees and what she remembers of him are disparate, making the grief palpable while he is still with us. I feel a similar phenomenon, though by no means tragic, when I look at my grown children and think of them as little girls, mourning the children I lost. But they are not deteriorating before my eyes as Kenyon is.
I said to Kathleen: "Why must the ones we love linger? Why can't they all simply die in the prime of life?" Alas, nature is not that efficient. Yet our capacity to remember those we love as they were helps sustain us when they no longer resemble themselves except in outward form.
As for poetry, I have none. I feel there is none in me. I also feel there is a glass ceiling I will never break through; I won't break into Poetry or The Paris Review or The Kenyon Review or The We Look Down Our Nose at You, You Poor Slob! Review. I think I need to take up something else in earnest.
I performed music at a wine-tasting party the other night and was well received. I enjoy prose and would like to write more fiction. The best fiction can be as magical as poetry.
What fascinates me about poetry is its magic, and I feel no magic--indeed, in reading others see little magic as well. It seems the entire literary world is being swallowed up by "creative non-fiction." Since life is a fiction, this seems silly to me. It is a specious division at best. Fiction better represents our spiritual and emotional lives, I think, than fact. Now they are becoming so intermixed is seems not to matter.
I'll save my wandering through a herd of wild Roosevelt Elk on the Lost Coast for another post.