Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Of Bishop and Bacon

Why hello again, dear readers. I've been doing some spring cleaning lately, both in the real world and the digital, as I attempt to shake off the staleness that settled in my apartment and my brain this winter. If you've read zees blog before, you might notice that some posts have disappeared. This is because I've sent them back to Draft land where they'll live in peace and invisibility, allowing me to move forward knowing that not everything I put on the internet has to stay there forever. Whew.

In terms of the impulse to edit one's online oeuvre, I'm naturally thinking about Elizabeth Bishop, one of my favorite poets, who published only about 100 poems during her lifetime because she was so exacting. ("[Determined] never to try to publish anything until I thought I'd done my best with it, no matter how many years it took—or never to publish at all," she'd vowed when she was young.)
Even as I wrestle with my own relentless perfectionism, trying to throw it off and just write, just cheer myself on through piles of successive, shitty iterative drafts, deep-down the critical praise I'd still like most to receive would be that given to Bishop: "...distinguished by tranquil observation, craft-like accuracy, care for the small things of the world, a miniaturist's discretion and attention... Her poems are balanced like Alexander Calder mobiles, turning so subtly as to seem almost still at first, every element, every weight of meaning and song, poised flawlessly against the next." Calder mobiles! Ay me.

You might know Bishop from her most famous poem, the villanelle "One Art." I personally enjoy reading it at 2am when I'm emotionally distraught and decide that what I really need is to become distraught-er. So I turn on my bedside lamp and pick up the copy of Geography III that I keep on my nightstand for such emergencies, and read:
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (
Write it!) like disaster.
In closing (because how else can you follow that?), here's a recipe I invented today:

Fry three strips of center-cut bacon on medium heat. Remove bacon from pan and set on paper towel. Pour most of the fat out of the pan, bring heat back up to medium, then add in 2 green onions (thinly sliced) and about 3/4 cup asparagus (cut into 1/2" pieces). Fry this til tender, then add in some chopped chives, fry a little more, then dump onto plate. Crumble bacon over top, crumble a hard-boiled egg over top of this, then sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice and some salt and pepper. VoilĂ ! The taste of spring.

If you're me, you'll gobble it up while thinking of the Rachmaninoff performance at the CSO that you saw on Saturday night, after which you ended up walking all the way home from Symphony Center, just because the spring wind felt so good and Chicago at night was too beautiful to give up for a couple blisters.

If you're you, well, I don't know what you'll think about. But hopefully it will be something as delicious as bacon.


Ariel said...

brilliant as usual, dear friend.

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