Sunday, January 12, 2014
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
from Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens
Along with the verses of W.B. Yeats' Adam's Curse from which I titled this blog, the above verse is one of my very favorite in the English language. I can't think or say the words Sunday morning without thinking complacencies of the peignoir, and the rest just rolls off my tongue, shimmering. I imagine I first read the poem, which is part of Wallace Stevens' collection Harmonium, inspired in part by the boy I loved who scratched Stevens' words on bits of paper and left them lying around. To Iris, he wrote once on a slip of paper and the cryptic To the Carolinas. The square of paper lay on my pillow. I feverishly flipped through my Wallace Stevens The Collected Poems and found that poem. The pine tree sweetens my body. The white iris beautifies me, I read.
Poetry floats and it makes a shape into which I've often stepped to make a life.
Sophie is dozing this morning, off and on, and as we move into week two of seizure freedom, I think how ill-equipped I am -- perhaps we all are -- to express gratitude, particularly as a non-religious person. I refuse to believe in an active God who has the whole wide world in his hands, who metes out justice to the wicked, or who has a divine and inscrutable plan that accounts for even extreme poverty, suffering children, devastating weather, rape, or epidemics. This lack of faith in an all-knowing god, or a universe that is anything other than constantly changing and chaotic, has prompted me to wonder if a more appropriate response to the despair I've often felt at Sophie's condition would be to go into the street, rip at my clothes and my hair and wail. In a similar way, I refuse to credit an active god with the miracle that is Sophie's two weeks of seizure freedom. I feel a modicum of guilt with that confession, a product, I suppose, of my Catholic upbringing and all the "religious" people that I know who so earnestly pray for me and for Sophie. While I am grateful for the intention, I admit to shirking, inwardly, when people say Thank God! or Praise the Lord! in response to Sophie's break from seizures. In a way, I would like to believe that God had a hand in this, because then I could crawl on my knees to Mecca in ecstasy or perhaps to a shrine. My response could be the dramatic opposite of the ranting and raving despair I conjured before. I could go to church every single day and kneel in adoration and gratitude, as opposed to feeling almost shell-shocked that a good day follows another good day and then another and another.
Here's what I believe. I believe these two weeks were gained, as it were, by my own dogged persistence to obtain CBD for her, by The Husband's backbreaking labor to make the money to buy it for her, by the efforts of the farmers who are growing it for her, and the individuals who have worked to bottle it and get it to us legally. I believe these two weeks were gained by the power of the internet to connect those of us seeking help for our children with epilepsy and by the glorious and chaotic bounty that the universe holds for us, even in spite of our very alive-ness. I believe in coffee and oranges and complacencies as much as dark things around the corner. I believe in the implacable sun.