Thursday, September 23, 2010

`It Isn't Ever Delicate to Live'

Some mornings the spruces, pines and cedars look like cut-out silhouettes, shadows cast on a wall of fog. It’s a trompe-l'œil effect we note almost daily on the way to the bus stop. Wednesday morning, against a sky of pale-gray clouds and fog, we saw what suggested the skeleton of a jellyfish, though jellyfish are boneless. Ten feet above us in a big-leaf maple, an orb-weaver’s web billowed in the soft wind like a hole-filled sail, intact but uninhabited, its filaments a geometry lesson written on the sky. Not surprisingly, Kay Ryan knows her spiders in “Spiderweb” (The Best of It, 2010):

“From other
angles the
fibers look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
to live.”

Life is bruising but delicacy sometimes possesses the tensile strength of spider silk. I gave the bee-fearing girl in Wednesday’s post a bag of sidewalk chalk. She pulled out a blue stick, wiped sand from a spot on the playground blacktop with her hand and with one stroke drew a circle about eight inches across. A face? She added two loops at the top. A rabbit? No, a flower, a kid’s rendering of “flowerness,” a daisy, I suppose, with symmetrical and symmetrically arranged petals. She added a stem of stacked chevrons – quite elegant – a line for the ground and pale yellow highlights. Quickly – recess was nearly over – more flowers sprung up, smaller ones around the first blue daisy. As the bell was ringing she drew an orange oval, striped it and added smaller, perpendicular ovals on the sides – I thought it was a butterfly --and a long thorn on the end. She stood, smiled, stomped on the drawing and said, “It’s a bee!”


William A. Sigler said...

When I think of obsessions with bees, I of course think of Sylvia Plath's other-worldly series of bee poems at the end of Ariel. I particularly like the one called "Wintering" where she contemplates in the fading year what will become of the bees:

"...It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,

Only ignorant.
This is the time of hanging on for the bees--the bees
So slow I hardly know them,
Filing like soldiers
To the syrup tin

To make up for the honey I've taken.
Tate and Lyle keeps them going,
The refined snow.
It is Tate and Lyle they live on, instead of flowers.
They take it. The cold sets in.

Now they ball in a mass,
Mind against all that white.
The smile of the snow is white.
It spreads itself out, a mile-long body of Meissen,

Into which, on warm days,
They can only carry their dead.
The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lady.
They have got rid of the men,

The blunt, clumsy stubblers, the boors.
Winter is for women--
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanish walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying. They taste the spring."

Fran M. said...

Your new friend is making the most of her chalk.