Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snowpocolypse Now


What is it about an impending blizzard that makes everyone run for the grocery store?  It's not like we couldn't pull on some boots and walk the five blocks to SuperFresh if we forgot milk or ran out of bread in the middle of a storm.  Nevertheless, we spent yesterday stocking up.  And up.  And up.

And once we'd laid in supplies for the Snowpocolypse, we ran out to squeeze in a little fun before the latest in a string of weather-imposed house arrests.  A movie.  And a plate of Bucatini Amatriciana to remind us of sunnier times--the week we spent in Rome a couple of summers ago.


I'll be cooking in earnest once the snow starts to fall.  Until then, I plan to cheer myself up by stealing a little precious writing time to work on my Greek novel.

Maybe I'll stream an Athenian radio station.  Maybe I'll peek frequently at the weather in Santorini (a comparatively balmy 59 degrees Farenheit at the moment I type this).  I'll browse through old photographs to conjure blue on blue on blinding white, steep cliffs, caper flowers bursting through sidewalk cracks, jasmine spilling from terraces, the jingle and clop of mule trains climbing the steep trail.



And I might even read some poems by James Merrill.  Especially this one--which so perfectly captures Greece, and travel, and memory, and the disorienting return to ordinary life.


After Greece


Light into the olive entered
And was oil. Rain made the huge, pale stones
Shine from within. The moon turned his hair white
Who next stepped from between the columns,
Shielding his eyes. All through
The countryside were old ideas
Found lying open to the elements.
Of the gods’ houses, only
A minor presence here and there
Would be balancing the heaven of fixed stars
Upon a Doric capital. The rest
Lay spilled, their fluted drums half sun in cyclamen
Or deep in water’s biting clarity
Which just barely upheld me
The next week, when I sailed for home.
But where is home—these walls?
These limbs? The very spaniel underfoot
Races in sleep, toward what?
It is autumn. I did not invite
Those guests, windy and brittle, who drink my liquor.

Returning from a walk, I find
The bottles filled with spleen, my room itself
Smeared by reflection onto the far hemlocks.
I some days flee in dream
Back to the exposed porch of the maidens
Only to find my great-great-grandmothers
Erect there, peering
Into a globe of red Bohemian glass.

As it swells and sinks I call up
Graces, Furies, Fates, removed
To my country’s warm, lit halls, with rivets forced
Through drapery, and nothing left to bear.
They seem anxious to know
What holds up heaven nowadays.
I start explaining how in that vast fire
Were other irons— well, Art, Public Spirit,
Ignorance, Economics, Love of Self,
Hatred of Self, a hundred more,
Each burning to be felt, each dedicated
To sparing us the worst; how I distrust them
As I should have done those ladies; how I want
Essentials: salt, wine, olive, the light, the scream—
No! I have scarcely named you,
And look, in a flash you stand full-grown before me,
Row upon row, Essentials,
Dressed like your sister caryatids,
Or tombstone angels jealous of their dead,
With undulant coiffures, lips weathered, cracked by grime,
And faultless eyes gone blank beneath the immense
Zinc-and-gunmetal northern sky.
Stay then. Perhaps the system
Calls for spirits. This first glass I down
To the last time
I ate and drank in that old world. May I
Also survive its meanings, and my own.

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