March 18, 2011

Midwest Eclogue
Stacie Cassarino

The first day it feels like fall
I want to tell my secrets
recklessly until there is nothing
you don't know that would make
your heart change years from now.
How foolish we are to believe
we might outlive this distance.
I don't know names for things
in the prairie, where the expanse
of light and the hissing of tall stalks
make me move slowly,
like in another country before
I must share it with anyone.
In what do you believe?
In September's slight motion
of particulars, in the weight of birds,
in lust, propulsion, maps
that lie. You should not have loved
me. Now: goldenrod, prairie-clover,
the ovate-leafed bluebell with its open
throat saying
how did you expect
to feel?
Colonies of prairie-smoke
and pods turning golden and papery,
the grassy plains iterating patience,
and things I cannot name.
Begin with apples reddening.
Begin with a woman touching
the cities in your feet.
Anchorage, the Bronx.
Did you ever
see yourself as more
than yourself?
I walk into a part
of afternoon that deepens
inventing an endpoint
for sadness. Everyone is gone.
On the subject of deception,
where do you stand?
There's a chill
in the air and the flowers know,
the goddamned flowers, their loosed
color. Sometimes we are cruel
and we mean it. We author the house
with its threadbare linens, the false
miniatures of people saying
look at me.
Will the landscape forgive you?
Is it yours to describe? What
is the sound inside your mouth?

I'm surrounded by grasslands
in ever direction. The sound
is a clamoring, because desire
is never singular and we want it
this way. We want it easy.
I have already let go
of summer. Here, the wind--
dispersal of seeds and story. Love,
there are things I cannot name.

Clearly I have just discovered Stacie Cassarino. All her poetry is stunning; I want to post every poem of hers that I've found. I have realized that I enjoy reading the quiet words of poets who use nature or the echoes of nature to convey the human spirit and the human heart- the silence of the outside natural world that I have never really understood as someone born and bred in urban environments. Berkeley, for all its woodsy campusness e.g. Strawberry Creek, the random circle of redwoods next to VLSB, the thicket of densely-growing, tangled bush next to Lewis, and for all its mountain lion sightings in the Berkeley Hills- true story- will never be a silent place. There are just way too many people here.

There are things I cannot name- how I feel when I am up at 7.45am scuttling to class in the foggy morning, when my breath puffs up in front of me and disappears into cloudiness, sitting in a lecture with a brilliant professor and feeling my world expand, taking the elevator down in Eshleman and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done, of a job done. I don't know if I will ever be able to capture how much this campus means to me. There are days when I question me being here- if the sacrifices that have been made are worth it. But when I step into a classroom on campus, or meet a friend on the street, and see these PEOPLE who are brimming with life and insight and passion, I am so very very glad I chose to come to Berkeley after all.

What is the sound inside your mouth? I am afraid that this will all be gone. I am afraid of what is to come. It's not just the $150 million cut in the UC budget, or the fact that Cal will have to shoulder $80m of that cut, or even that there are reports floating around that there will be a devastating earthquake happening in California (THE big earthquake, the one they've been talking about for years now, and specifically that it may happen THIS SUNDAY). I honestly don't know if I can/should take these reports seriously. I've never been in an earthquake before. I don't know what to do. All I know is that I'm not doing laundry until Sunday's past... (because who cares about clean laundry in a natural disaster right? Rather be spending my time doing...other things)

So, just in case it does happen (and this is weighing so heavily in me- the uncertainty! At least in Singapore I knew that no bad things could happen. The government won't let it.)- I love you family! I love you friends! I love you world, even though I'm not quite sure why you're destroying yourself.

And on that CHEERFUL note (haha)- SPRING BREAK! Plans include going to the California Academy of Sciences, the deYoung's Balenciaga and Spain exhibition, the Legion of Honor, SF MoMA, roadtrip to Davis for Japanese food, roadtrip to San Jose for Boiling Crab, volunteering at an Economist event held in Haas, and sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, reading, watching TV. Time allocated in proportion of times mentioned. YAY.

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