- St. Vincent de Paul;
- the color orange;
- Paris, France; and
- a pelican.
To those who have known me long, this will come as no surprise. I was an odd baby, a quizzical child, a peculiar teenager, and a strange young adult. Now, with dotage fast approaching, I share my apartment with a cigarette-smoking sheep and fifty balls of talking, homosexual sock yarn. Le Tricoteur Bizarre, c'est moi.
I offer the following two Unfinished Objects in support of my diagnosis.
Exhibit A: A Nearly-Finished Baby Surprise Jacket
Once again, I'm knitting for a baby with no baby in sight. Inexplicable. Especially as on the continuum of Inborn Parental Urge I lie somewhere between a bag of Fritos and the witch in Hansel and Gretel.
Exhibit B: A Single Poetry Mitten Cuff
I was so excited that I almost hyperventilated when a nice lady at Knitting Camp turned me onto a Piecework Magazine pattern for mittens with poetry worked into them. Oh yes please, I squealed, and ran right out to Arcadia Knitting and bought this perfectly luscious yarn in three colors, and the proper needles, and then I sat down and knit the first cuff all at once and then I stopped short.
Because the poem in the pattern, while appropriately wintery, is just not me. It doesn't speak to my experience of winter and mittens and snow. I simply can go no further until I've picked out verses that do, and fit them into the chart.
So for four weeks I've been staring at the cuff and rummaging through my library in search of Just the Right Poem.
I've considered the Shakespeare lyric "Blow, blow thou winter wind," but then I've thought it might be too pessimistic and does one really wish to look down at one's mittens and feel depressed?
I thought about Ezra Pound's 'Winter is icummen in" but worried that the repeated "Goddamm" might render the mittens unwearable at, for example, elegant holiday parties and job interviews. And again, there's the pessimism issue.
I tossed around some lovely winter haiku, but then I realized I hate haiku.
I've woken up at 3 a.m. seized with sudden inspiration, and jumped out of bed, and spent an hour paging through a stack of anthologies before realizing the poem I'd been thinking of doesn't actually exist.
And you may threat, cajole, or place a gun to my head, but I cannot continue with these mittens until the matter is settled. At this point, I expect I might finish them by July. Of 2009.
Since You Asked
Marie in Florida wanted to know what's on the little card on my altar. It changes from time to time–I write down lines from sutras, or koans, or what-have-you that seems appropriate for the time. Right now, I've got the Four Bodhisattvic Vows, which we say at the Zen Center after each period of zazen and which I recite every day:
All beings without numberRather a tall order, yes, but you gotta have a dream.
I vow to liberate.
Endless blind passions
I vow to uproot.
Dharma gates beyond measure
I vow to penetrate.
The Great Way of Buddha
I vow to attain.
(I wonder how those would look worked into a pair of mittens?)
*No, I don't anymore, and no, you shouldn't send me one. Thanks.