Tag Archives: limn limn limn

Sloops, Sleeps

Sleepless nights are the devil’s own, I tell ye, and I’ve been having them lots and lots lately. I had one just the other night. I couldn’t locate sleep on a map, a detailed map with topographical details and vivid red arrows that pointed to “Sleep: two nautical miles” and “Sleep: this-a-way” and “Sleep: look here, cowpoke, a whole Great Plains of slumber”! I do not know when I finally went unconscious, but the next day was a slog through the salt mines, and make no mistake. At one point I referred to my skeleton as “glue”, if that helps “paint the picture”.

I wish that lying awake in that manner truly helped to resolve one’s thoughts and feelings–you’re wide awake, so you might as well resolve away!–but that is not the case. Rather, one’s thought patterns careen their way down the same paths and subjects over and over, like a cruise missile with a faulty navigational system:

What does “subaltern” mean, again?
Emotional things
I forgot to take that bobby pin out of my hair
Now I have taken it out
More emotions
I wonder if it is worthwhile to obtain gingersnaps from the kitchen
I have eaten my weight in gingersnaps lately
They are so delicious
I think I hear something
Monsters aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiii

When I woke up, apparently having nodded off, it was from a dream that I could set things on fire with my mind.



My niece, examining fish at the St. Louis Zoo.


Subaltern basically means “subordinate.”


The word limn means “to represent in drawing or painting” or “to describe”. It can also mean to “trace the shape of”. I am in love with this word of late. It’s a lovely word. Limn limn limn, I am always thinking. Limn it up.


There will be a total eclipse of the sun on Friday! However, I am devastated to report that it will basically only be visible from the Arctic and, like, Mongolia. Nonethless, if you go to this website, you will be able to watch the eclipse live from Novosibirsk, Russia! Hoorah! Or, as they say in Russia, внушительно [“It is imposing!”]

In my girlhood, there was a solar eclipse. Our teachers–for reasons best known to themselves–decided to let us outside to watch what was happening through our specially prepared “pinhole” boxes. I remember strange shadows and squirrels running mad in Craig Park, which is next to my old elementary school. [O Craig Park! If parks could talk, gentle readers. If parks could talk.] I also remember another girl brazenly examining the sun with her bare eyes. “Brazen!” I thought, and then I probably thought: “What does ‘brazen’ mean?”, because I was a kid, for God’s sakes.

This is a map of all the solar eclipses to come:

Where will I be in my life on July 2, 2019? Or on November 13, 2012? Where will you be? Do you know? You do?

I ought to get cracking then, oughtn’t I?


You see, shore-hugging is neither surety
Nor earns salt pride braving the long sea-sweeps.
This came up in the dark while some of us
Bore on in our sleep. Was there
In the dogwatch already, hiding the Dog Star.
We woke into it, rising from dreams
Of sea-farms slanting on cliffs in clear light
And white houses winking there–sweet landmarks
But no help to us at the helm. Hours now
We have been drifting. It would be near noon.
Feeling the tides fight under our feet
Like a crawling of carpets. Turning our heads
To pick up the cape-bell, the hoots of the shoal-horn
That seem to come from all over. Distrusting
Every direction that is simple, to shoreward. This
Landfall is not vouchsafed us for
We have abused landfalls, loving them wrong
And too timorously. What coastline
Will not cloud over if looked at long enough?
Not through the rings running with us of enough
Horizons, not wide enough risking,
Not hard enough have we wrought our homing.
Drifting itself now is danger. Where are we?
Well, the needle still swings to north, and we know
Even in this blindness which way deep water lies.
Ships were not shaped for haven but if we were
There will be time for it yet. Let us turn head,
Out oars, and pull for the open. Make we
For midsea, where the winds are and stars too.
There will be wrung weathers, sea-shakings, calms,
Weariness, the giant water that rolls over our fathers,
And hungers hard to endure. But whether we float long
Or founder soon, we cannot be saved here.

W.S Merwin


Filed under Math and Science: General, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry, W.S Merwin