There Is A Beach by Miriam Sagan

A nice mention on Facebook by Claudia Long has led to some searching for this poem. Here it is, easy to find. It is from the collection LOVE AND DEATH. (With Renee Gregorio and Joan Logghe, Tres Chicas, 2011)

There is a beach

sea pale green to navy to aqua
pink or pale beige sand

there you are
setting two plastic beach chairs
in the waves

there you are
carrying our daughter
on your shoulders

now you are gone

there is a beach

there are two figures
in the waves

they might be us
or in a snapshot from the fifties
someone’s mother and father

now you are gone

it is 8 o’clock
I am reading a book
I am on page 14

it is 8:15
I am on page 36

I miss page 14
where the heroine
peeled an orange
in the dayroom

although page 36
is also pleasant
it has a train
and a sense of regret

the hands
of the clock move
and my hands
turn the pages
of the book
until the heroine
walks along the beach

the sea pale green to navy to aqua
the shore pebbly

you’re gone

Painting by  ,

Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario: Rhubarb Pie Recipe

1 Hopewell style Indian Mound (far from the Ohio range)
2 enormous hydroelectric plants–the one on the American side caused the great NYC blackout of my youth
2 lighthouses
1 great lake
1/2 piece strawberry/rhubarb pie
1/2 quart pick your own strawberries (Richard’s)
1 teachable moment (the cashier had never before understood the expression a la mode but did oblige)
1 Amish plower with a team of horses
The aesthetic I was raised with was that beauty trumped ugliness, but there was less of it. The family’s ugly factory produced nice coats people bought with money, another good thing, which gave rise to beauty–a hanging basket of petunias or a visit to Venice. It wasn’t until very recently that I got interested in landscape for its own sake, didn’t have to screen out the industrial, in some way began to see things more as they are.
Center for Land Use Interpretation changed my view even before I had a residency in Wendover. My brother Daniel is always a good guide for the industrial and funky, but CLUI even has a database you can use for a roadtrip. Hence, water intake towers. And not just Niagara Falls lit up at night in pastel carnival lights the colors of slushies–pink, lemon, aqua.
Enjoyed a formal garden laid out in the pattern of the Great Lakes. Enjoyed Lake Ontario on this blustery day.Enjoy how things come together metaphorically and all I have to do is relax.
How did people figure out you can eat rhubarb? Here is the recipe from Fanny Farmer:
Rhubarb Filling
(for a fat pie, use 4 cups. Adding Strawberries also optional)

3 cups rhubarb, chopped to just the right size
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together.

On a cool, floured surface, roll out dough until it is just large enough to fit the pie plate. Place the first layer in the pie plate: it helps to fold it in to quarters then unfold in the plate. Leave the excess hanging. Fill with rhubarb mixture. Cover with the second piece, and cut the excess with about an inch around the outside perimeter. Pinch the top and bottom together in an attractive wavy pattern and then poke holes in the top with the tip of a knife.

Bake pie at 350 for 50 minutes.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is…well, Niagara Falls. And beautiful from both American and Canadian sides. And lovely in morning mist or lit up at night. And generally an enormous tourist magnet.
Lucy Lippard says–the sublime is patriarchal. Meaning? Does a mad vertical of cliff and water oppress women? (Bridal though it may be?). Or does she mean that the agreed upon spectacle is cultural domineering?
Hydroelectric plants, industry, abandoned smelting towers, a run down upstate town…in Canada Niagara-on-the-Lake is a bit of British paradise, with lots of vineyards and cherry orchards. Also, startlingly, in the Canadian Niagara among the honky-tonk and casinos an enormous Pure Land Buddhist Temple, Hong Kong style, with no doubt 10.000 golden Buddhas.I took off my shoes and bowed.
A bad border crossing back, very slow, and the SUV in front of us held up for ten minutes in what looked to me like profiling, as an obviously Muslim family was evicted until finally being allowed through.We were grilled–why are you so far from home? Are you just declaring TWO SCONES?! It was uncomfortable.
I read recently in a book on souvenirs that a souvenir is for non-repeatable experience. Rich got me, at my request, a tiny snow globe of Niagara Falls. I like to shake glitter and see it fall.

Political Beads from Corning Museum of Glass

Three Graces Oblivious While Los Angeles Burns
Scott, Joyce J.; Pilchuck Glass School
United States, Seattle, WA; United States, Baltimore, MD
Overall H: 53.7 cm, W: 24.7 cm, D: 22.7 cm

“Joyce Scott uses glass beads to address topics such as sexuality, violence, and civil rights. Three Graces Oblivious While Los Angeles Burns was created in the wake of the beating of Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles, and the citywide rioting that followed their acquittal in 1992. Beneath the head of an African-American, representing the victimized King, the three Graces—who symbolize gracefulness, peace, and happiness—turn their backs on a burning city skyline. For Scott, the choice of beads is intentional. Beadworking is traditionally regarded as a woman’s pursuit, and it is usually associated with jewelry and other decorative applications, especially in ethnographic and folk art. In Scott’s hands, the bead regains its currency, but it is a value that is symbolic rather than monetary.”
From Corning Museum website.

Roadtrip: Corning Glass Museum

Had a peak experience at the Corning Glass Museum. I ended up bursting into tears, I was so overwhelmed by beauty. The museum includes a full history of the glass of the world, and everything from a Steuben glass slipper to the naturally occurring glass skeletons of sea sponges. So much beauty, color, so much transformed and transfixed light.
The innovative sculptures–majestic contemporary pieces, hit me the most. I’ll just share two here, with text from the website. Silvia Levenson’s piece is part of the art of survival, a memorial of the disappeared, and seems to be in the post feminist tradition using “craft” to document the political. It blew me away.

My art is about my life. Everyone has anxieties and fears, and I try to resolve some of these feelings in my work. It’s Raining Knives could be any suburb. The piece is about us, and family, and what is happening now. We may feel safe and secure in our houses, but the truth is that we can never be sure.
Glass is not a neutral material, but a very powerful medium of communication. I see it as a metaphor for transparency, for feeling and revealing emotions. It is a wonderful material that is both beautiful and treacherous. I use knives and scissors in my work because they are ordinary, everyday objects that can suddenly become dangerous. For me, knives symbolize the possibility of violence, rather than violence itself. —Silvia Levenson
She was born in Argentina in 1957. “The installation, It’s Raining Knives, was conceived in 1996 in response to Levenson’s personal experiences during the Videla dictatorship. It has since become a thought-provoking commentary on the threat of terrorism in general, and on the culture of fear that has rapidly spread in the United States and abroad since the events of September 11, 2001. It’s Raining Knives “is not supposed to make people feel anxious,” Levenson says, “but to make them feel better.” Rather than making a political statement, her art work is about coming to terms with fear…”

Very different and yet equally compelling–and perhaps dealing with some of the same emotion, is The Proof of Awareness by Loretta Hui-Shan Yang of the People’s Republic of China,
“Wishing my next life be as clear as crystal.” — Loretta Yang. Loretta Yang’s sculpture is inspired by traditional Chinese and Buddhist philosophy. According to Yang, this glass peony, which was cast in one piece, “inspires reflection on the Buddhist teachings of impermanence, as the blossom is most vibrant just before the flower begins to fade.”

Las Conchas Fire by Ursula Moeller

Although we are on the road, the horrific wildfires of home are never far from my mind. Writer/photographer Ursula Moeller just sense these images of Las Conchas fire, taken from Frenchy’s field. My thanks to her for a sensitive response. It makes me grateful to art and poetry in a difficult time.

Hades in heavens
30,000 foot smoke column
turns the sun blood-red

prairie dog whistles
sound warning to wildlife
danger: dig; flee; fly

horror and beauty
paint-box sun spills bruised colors
acrid smoke assaults

Roadtrip: Forest Fire to Waterfall

It is so green here in New York state that it startles our desert parched eyes. For the first 24 hours I kept scanning the sky–thinking every cumulous cloud was forest fire smoke. I hear the Pacheco fire behind Santa Fe has spread to 10,000 acres.
But all is water here. We went to some small local waterfalls–spectacular by our standards, and to Watkins Glen State Park by Seneca Lake (one of the long skinny bodies of water aptly named Fingerlakes). Here water just falls and falls, twists, turns, cascades, roars. It is all in the vertical! The Glen is exquisite, 800 steps up, across bridges, down gorges…as usual my bad leg keeps me from getting very far by most standards but I’m happy to spend time sitting on a wet stone bench watching a particular section of falls and marveling at literally walls of fern and moss and flowers in every crevice of the rock. It is a paradise on both the grand scale and in miniature.
I’ve been trying to think/write about the Chinese poet Wang Wei…and it is suddenly much easier here than in the desert.

New York Roadtrip: To Mark Twain’s Grave

Arrived NYC yesterday and drove, avoiding traffic, across the Tappan Zee to the southern tier (although it is upstate to me) of New York, approaching the Finger Lakes. In Elmira, found Mark Twain’s small hexagonal study, now moved to the pretty campus of Elmira College. His wife Olivia was an alumna of the school–the first to grant full college degrees to women. And the study, about 200 square feet, was transported fro its original location on Olivia’s family’s Quarry Farm. The space is to imitate a riverboat pilot’s lookout, but really is in the tradition of tiny writing spaces, such as George Bernard Shaw’s phone booth sized one. A book of these inspired my brother Daniel when he designed and built my 100 square foot studio in the backyard. In this miniature space, Twain worked on all of his significant books.
Enjoyed finding his grave, too, in the cluttered necropolis of the near-by Woodlawn Cemetery. His monument is the height of “mark twain.” Altogether memorable and touching. I feel a bit remiss about visiting writer’s shrines. I’ve been to Emily Dickinson’s house and grave, Lillian Helman’s grave, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West house, Keat’s house in Kensington, and Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, but not much else.
I believe Rich, my guide and companion in so much travel, likes a quest as much as the destination. It might be a mission church, a Chacoan great house, or a diner. Enthusiasm for a collection drives me. I wonder about the differences–and similarities–between tourists, travelers, and pilgrims.