This was in my mind when I awoke today, dunno exactly where it came from but I suspect it’s because I’ve been reading Mary Jo Salter’s A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems:
One’s life is
a hive of debts
humming to one another
their unexpected linkages
as interest grows
I blogged about Chris Lydon’s interview with Mary Jo Salter back in May, and it’s still worth a listen.
barred owl on a birch tree
grey on lighter grey
barred owl watching mouse
swift and silent conjunction
The first text one happens to read in the day sometimes kicks off a sequence of thoughts and activities. The top of the heap in the bathroom happened today to be Parodies: an anthology from Chaucer to Beerbohm –and After (the 1965 Modern Library Giant edition, fruit of a trip to the local usedbookery), and a random opening brought this for my consideration as Leitmotiv for the day:
(Cloax is the vilest drink, gouging
Pockets out of your giblets, mixing
Frenzy and remorse, blending
Rot-gut and white-ants.
Jalap has a use, laundering
Colons with refreshing suds, purging
The lower soul with gentle motion.)
Oooooookay, I thought. It’s from Myra Buttle’s Sweeney in Articulo (part of The Sweeniad, Victor Purcell’s rather vicious ca. 1957 parody of T.S. Eliot –I know Victor Purcell for his work on the Chinese in Southeast Asia and on Malayan history, but am pleased to find him at play here). And so the odd half hour went into inquiring into Eliot (which led to The T. S. Eliot Page, and turned up A craving for reality: T. S. Eliot today by Roger Kimball). After that, a visit to the phlebotomist (fasting), and then breakfast… some days are more fun than others.
I spent the weekend walking around Boston and Cambridge, revisiting old haunts and enjoying the leading edge of what will eventually turn into Spring. Among the locales I visited were Harvard’s Agassiz Museum (nowadays it’s called “Natural History”) and Peabody Museum of Anthropology, both of which I frequented at several points in my young and not-so-young life. Many of my favorites were still in place, and I could trace the distant origins of later fascinations. The stuffed animals were pretty startling because I remembered expressions and postures very exactly. Even the basic smells of the place are pretty much the same as they were when I first knew them about !! 60 !! years ago… Amongst the ornithological specimens I found illustrations for
Auk! that’s no puffin I know
Can’t pronounce “guillemot”
That’s a murre
(Hark back to mid-2006 for other “That’s amore” variants)
Another bit of resonance was the ceiling-hung skeleton of a Right Whale which I can remember being especially impressed by as a child:
…which was (doubtless) the source of the image I used to retail to classes of students as an analogy for the search process: you take in a LOT of information and sort through it as a baleen whale sieves krill, keeping the tasty bits…
Another image, from a later date, is provided by the Pirarucu
…the namesake of the Collaborative Information Management tool I was working on in Summer 2002 –a scheme that was Ahead of Its Time.