* rivers, Jim Harrison & you

In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it; you can’t figure out a banal game plan applicable to all situations; you just have to go with the “beingness” of life, as Rilke would have it.

Jim Harrison

*ain't life Rio Grande*
*ain’t life Rio Grande*

Jim Harrison is one of my gurus.  His work opens me up every time I return to it.  There is a directness to his writing, a feeling of having whittled one’s self down to the essential.  Being a poet of rivers myself, his words above are kindred.

He may also be the closest we have to that other great poet of rivers, Li Po, who, legend has it, died embracing the moon – at least the reflection of it he saw one night on the face of a river.

In the following poem, from his book Saving Daylight, Jim takes us a littler further down the river, to where we may have been all along.

Water – Jim Harrison

Before I was born I was water.
I thought of this sitting on a blue
chair surrounded by pink, red, white
hollyhocks in the yard in front
of my green studio.  There are conclusions
to be drawn but I can’t do it anymore.
Born man, child man, singing  man,
dancing man, loving man, old man,
dying man.  This is a round river
and we are her fish who become water.

***

Happy watering!

Jose

* Linda Pastan, apples & the friday influence

This week on the Influence: Linda Pastan!

What moves me about the lyric below is how it follows the turns of simple tone and lets the subtleties gleam.

What does that mean?

Peep the line: maybe the wind would wind itself – with its alliterative w’s, but also how the word wind turns over in meaning and pronunciations from noun to verb, seamlessly.

I’ve always marveled at Pastan’s way with the line.  Not every poem has to go for the jugular.  This one gets you at the sinew of mortality.

*manzanas*
*manzanas*

In the Orchard – Linda Pastan *

Why are these old, gnarled trees
so beautiful, while I am merely
old and gnarled?

If I had leaves, perhaps, or apples…
if I had bark instead
of this lined skin,

maybe the wind would wind itself
around my limbs
in its old sinuous dance.

I shall bite into an apple
and swallow the seeds.
I shall come back as a tree.

***

Happy appling!

Jose

p.s.  Be sure to check out the latest Stirring: a literary collection featuring work from past Influence feature Adeeba Talukder and a series of poems by yours truly.  Check out the work here.

* originally published in Plume.

** photo found here.