Sunday, November 09, 2008

Call Me Margaret

I went to Central Park today, looking for inspiration. I hoped that the sunshine and the people and the leaves and the sky and the city at its best would help restore to me some of my lost excitement.

Waiting for the subway I scanned the crowd intently, reaching in my mind to describe each person, hoping that in words I would discover the bliss of successful connection to my surroundings. Yet everything I thought was trite, and not a single person sparked the avenue of a story.

Smashed together on the 6 Train, I eavesdropped and eavespeeked over the shoulders of the tall, duck faced women looking at pictures on a digital camera. Mother and daughter visiting the city, trying to capture it all, discussing the revelrous habits of their various friends. And shockingly enough, the pictures contained artistry, telling me that the woman who took them saw things, still life moments hidden in alleys, the kind that most people overlook entirely. There was something there, yet still I remained uninspired. I was listening out of habit, out of a sense of duty perhaps, but my overloaded soul couldn't feel the thrill of the involuntary window I peered through.

Out of the subway and walking toward the park, I stared down the avenues to the haven at their terminus, brightly-colored foliage growing ever closer as I approached it, framed by buildings and slanted in sunlight. Mimicking the women on the train, I took out my digital camera and attempted to capture the sight. With time and proper care I knew I could frame a perfect shot, lines and angles, colors and textures, blending to a harmony that would say something about that moment. But on the street with the people rushing by, with my backpack making me feel weighted down and awkward, with the fear of being condemned as a tourist, I was too much a coward to stop. I took pictures without pausing, and they did not give me what I sought.

In the park I walked down paths and up stairs, looking at the faces of the people for some who would match my own. None did. I looked at the trees. I looked at the ground. The ground was covered in leaves, huge expanses covered with thick carpet, and I walked across them and thought the words of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of my favorite poets.

And after I wandered aimlessly around the meadow feeling alone until I chose a spot at random, and after I lay down on the grass and bent my head over my book, and after I didn't start a conversation with the two British guys who looked down as they walked by and said hello, and after I lost myself in my book for a while, and after I got too cold and decided to leave, I walked again through the worlds of wanwood and thought Gerard Manley Hopkins in my head.

And that is the only inspiration I found today. And it is a cold, backward sort; the kind that leaves me feeling lost. And here I am: but where?

Spring and Fall
to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! As the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.


Erachet said...

Call me Margaret, too.

Northern Light said...

Oh my. I'm sorry you couldn't enjoy the rich sights you describe! Next time, talk to the Brits.

Anonymous said...

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.