Tag Archives: chaffinch

Sans Sturm und Drang

It has been very quiet on the western front of late. The summer is passing away; the sun is shining; the tigerlilies in the backyard persist in all their strange and orangey glory; blueberries the size of mutant gumballs are consumed [you should have seen these blueberries I just had. How did they grow these blueberries? I accidentally nicked my finger later that day and my blood was green.] Lately, I’m feeling just a bit–a little, crescent moon-sized bit–hermit-like.  I wasn’t away from Chicago for so very long–just about two weeks–but it sometimes feels as though I was away for 20 bajillions of years, and that I am, in fact, writing this from the surface of the crescent moon. Which would not work, in the long run, because the atmosphere of the moon is pretty lame-o and reads like a soup can label–seriously, it’s basically comprised of sodium and potassium and random crap. Hey! Perhaps I could invent something called “Moon Soup”, with delicious carrots and celery shaped like lunar marias! Lunar marias, so’s you know, are great big “basaltic plains” on the surface of the moon, created by volcano eruptions from long, long, l-o-o-o-ng ago. Astronomers used to believe that they were oceans, and so they are called marias, Latin for “seas”. Those ancient astronomers! Ha ha! “Moronomers”, I sometimes call them, in the privacy of my own thoughts.

Just look you at all those marias.

Did you know that there are only two lunar marias on the moon named after actual human beings, and that one of them, Mare [singular form of maria] Humboldtianum–pronounced “mahr-ey hoo dee doo bloo blee num”–is named after Alexander Von Humboldt, who has his very own park here in the Chicagoland area? I’ll be dipped! Do not tell me you do not learn something new every day.

Other lunar mare names:

Sea That Has Become Known [Mare Cognitum]
Sea of Ingenuity [Mare Ingenii]
Sea of Vapors [Mare Vaporum]
Serpent Sea [Mare Anguis]

And below the mare in size are the lacus, or “lakes”, and the sinus  and paludes [“bay” and “marsh”, respectively] and THEY have names like “Lake of Forgetfulness” [Lacus Oblivionis] and “Bay of Rainbows” [Sinus Iridum] and “Marsh of Rot” [Palus Putredinis].

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Isn’t it so good to be alive?

***

This Week’s Interesting Fact from The Krakatoa Book My Mother Loaned Me

This isn’t so much an “Interesting Fact” as “I Read The Following Sentence And Very Nearly Threw Myself Down Upon The Ground Due To Its Wonderment And Hilarity”. Here it is, out of context:

“In the tradition of good science–close observation followed by prescient deduction, with in this case the basilisk glare of his own geophysical insight–he saw something, something that the ancient Hawaiians themselves had suspected for centuries.”

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

My roommate and I practiced our basilisk glares the other night, but I don’t know what we looked like. I will practice it on you, when I see you next.

YOU: Stop looking at me with the basilisk glare of your geophysical insight!
ME: No.

***

Another Late Bloom Alert occurred this weekend, to my very great delight. When I walked out of my apartment yesterday, I saw that the leafy tree-ish tree at the bottom of the backporch steps had finally, after months and months of waiting, flowered and flowered and flowered, everywhere, and I grabbed the porch railing and made a sound like “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”, except not that articulate. I had given up the flowering of our leafy tree-ish tree a long time ago. I thought that the cold had blighted the flowers somehow, or that some other natural occurrence–sun and rain?–had not naturally occurred. But there they were, white and pink and wide, and this morning I counted three yellowjackets when I stopped by to take a look.

Also yesterday: Katie and I thought we saw a spider in my living room, building a web at a very great rate, but–major burn–it wasn’t a spider. Did you know that a spider releases its silk from a gland called a spinneret? A spinneret. Was there ever a better word “in all the blue-green world” for such a thing? No no no no.

***

A woman I work with stopped by my desk last Friday with her eyeballs full of poetry. She led me to check out Elizabeth [love her!] Barrett Browning’s crazy long poem “Aurora Leigh” [it’s nine “books” long. Well, what would YOU do with your precious, precious time if you were a nineteenth-century lady authoress?] I didn’t read the whole poem [I do not have the precious, precious time of a nineteenth-century lady authoress] but I read the section I was specially directed to:

And truly, I reiterate…nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And,–glancing on my own thin, veined wrist,–
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself indistinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude.

1. Take off your shoes.

2. Stop sitting around and plucking blackberries.

3. Nothing is small.

4. Every common bush is afire with God.

5. This is like the second time this week I’ve seen the word “chaffinch” . What’s up with that?

Love

A clear-gold cicada shell
hooked hard to wet bark.
Center-split: antennal
to lower thorax. Molt-clean.

Remember
its clutch in the dark.
Remember

a body-peek green.
A droning wind-hinge.
A fingerful of sudden wings.

Timothy O’Keefe

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Filed under Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Math and Science: General, Poetry, Timothy O'Keefe