Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mary Ruefle: "far far away"

Mary Ruefle

I'm continuing to cleave a way for myself through Ruefle's thronging words, quoted, or her own, in Madness, Rack, and Honey (208), and I came upon these words of hers reminding me of something:
When I was forty-five years old, I woke up on an ordinary day, neither sunny nor overcast, in the middle of the year, and I could no longer read. It was at the beginning of one of those marvelous sentences that only Nabokov can write: "Mark felt a sort of delicious pity for the frankfurters . . ." In my vain attempts I made out felt hat, prey, the city of Frankfort. But the words that existed so I might read them sailed away, and I was stranded on a quay while everything I loved was leaving. And then it was I who was leaving: a terror seized me and took me so high up in its talons that I was looking helplessly down on a tiny, unrecognizable city, a city I had loved and lived in but would never see again. I needed reading glasses, but before I knew that, I was far far away. (184)
The memory springing up was an experience from my ninth summer, halting in the hot sunlight as I plowed my grandmother's large garden and watching an enormous, white-hooded eagle fly overhead and catch my overheated imagination . . . an experience I later, much, much later, spoke of in a poem:
On Big Creek Ridge

The summer I plowed grandma's far garden,
an eagle caught my eyes with curved talons.
I glimpsed an obscured form against brown ground
stretching curious furrows straight and long.
I showed it to a stranger, the lover of a Japanese woman I knew in Berkeley, and he pointed out to me that the curious furrows were not just of the plowing I'd been doing, but even more of my own brow, furrowed in curiosity.

And I'm now far, far away . . .

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