“ … After revising “Speak Memory” Nabokov would spend his last decade moving further away from the world, falling deeper into his created universes. His relative isolation in his portable Winter Palace in Montreux separated him from many of the mundane settings and human interactions that had provided a compelling present within which he could conceal the past. As a result, the past and the present wrestled for control of his work, and the coherence, often as not, was lost. …”
[from Chapter 14 –
“The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov”
by Andrea Pitzer]
from Karl Sirovy: Zivot i djelo
edited by Nada Vrkljan-Krizic,
published by Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti, Zagreb, Croatia (1993)]
Beginning today, 4 August 2018, seventy-four years after the surprise arrest of Anne Frank, family and friends in hiding in Amsterdam, I’ve begun my move “away”. Whether or not it’s “from the world” or into “relative isolation” is yet to be decided. Having not thought we’d survive Nixon, in disbelief/embarrassment with Reagan, followed by nausea/implication with Bush, our momentary power-grippers have brought all of the above plus more – disbelief/nauseous/soul-sick/embarrassed/horror – in triplicate. Its tempting to throw in the tea towel, the beach towel, the roll of paper towel, and make do from here on in with the much used, frayed, fluffy, spiral, pile, no longer absorbent, Marine blue, all-purpose hand towel – one canary in my coal mine – to sop/mop what’s wet/spilled/damp/dripping.
Should this moment in time be an iceberg, where to find a clue as to whether said iceberg floats right-side up or up-side down?
And then there’s today! 12 August, same year, same ambivalent iceberg, same hide-away, same blinds half drawn, same power-grippers pinching sour vitals. The only difference between today, and the 4th, is that the concurrent heatwaves finally seem to have passed. Additionally: one hundred forty-nine years ago today, Katherine Lee Bates, the composer of “America the Beautiful” was born. As well: eleven years ago today Archaeologists discovered an eight million year-old cypress forest in Hungary.
Why do I think of sleep when I see them
rising angular above
their frill of slow waves?
Such width and steepness in anything else
would be dark inside —
but these have light in them
like a closed eye.
They seem utterly still — the way we want
sleep to be
but are full
of the creakings of hinge and interface
like a ship’s
and astounding as sleep
when they shudder
drop their sides and we can see
I feel you turning in your sleep
with its mighty keel dissolved
up-ending slow as yawn
of indigo and black
wrestling your ocean
that rears and crawls
subsides into dream
like beautifully warped sails
three or four coming together
pressing out blue from every lid and crevice
bright and stabbing
as the sheen
of live bone.
I stare at huge weathered torsos
vivid and rivetting.
Here and almost freezing to death
step outside observe