Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Percy B. Shelley's Werewolf Poem

     I dreamed one night that I was sitting with friends in a cafĂ©, engrossed in a literary discussion when our waitress joined our conversation. She asked me if I had ever read Percy B. Shelley’s werewolf poem. Incredulous that he had ever written one, I confessed my ignorance. She then proceeded to quote it to me like a thespian:

Now I arise and shed earth’s clothing,
Temperous rags all worn and moulding,
Temperous rags all worn and moulding…

     Alas, I awoke before she could finish quoting the poem. Now, as far as I know, Shelley never did write a poem about a werewolf, so I felt free to plagiarize my dream and use the poem in a novel I was writing. It would be a shame to waste a word as fantastic as temperous, don’t you think? It is one of those double entendres that describes both the temporal quality of the flesh and the monstrous rage one would feel in suddenly mutating into a wolfish creature unclothed in hair and dripping with fangs. I know for certain I would feel all temperous.

     I wish I could have gone back to sleep and dreamed the rest of the poem, but the only reoccurring dreams I have are the ones about flying without any wings; taking showers without any soap and shampoo in odd places like coat closets or public fountains; searching my wardrobe for the right outfit to wear for the first day of school and dithering so long I miss the bus; and pulling enormous, never-ending wads of bubblegum out of my mouth.

     The really interesting dreams, the ones I hate to wake up from, sprinkle my subconscious like scraps of unfinished poetry.

Friday, August 15, 2014


     Yes, I took a picture of the stack of shorts I ironed for my husband. What can I say? Sometimes even ironing can be a beautiful thing.

     And there is also the blossom of satisfaction in catching up, and the sweet fruit of tending to the needs of someone I love.

     Furthermore, I have gained new insight into the word stone-colored.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Above the Earth

     My husband and I attended a conference in Southern California last week. We stayed in a hotel on Mandalay beach. As appealing as the days filled with salt-wind and sunshine were, the most memorable portion of the week was the morning that astronaut Jeff Williams came to speak to us. Colonel Williams has taken more photos of the earth from outer space than any other astronaut and he brought some of them to show us. Out of the billions of humans who inhabit the earth there are, by comparison, only a handful who share his unique experience and perspective—less than 600. By the time he was finished speaking to us, I felt so crammed with creation I was ready to burst with the wonder of it.

     Colonel William’s interest in photography developed during his first six-month assignment aboard the International Space Station. He said that, while he had the option of watching movies or reading during his free time, he chose to spend it doing things he couldn’t do on earth; so looking out the window and taking pictures from 200 miles above the planet became his passion.

     The astronaut’s words resonated within me as our plane departed from the Los Angeles airport a few days later. I usually read while flying and had a book in my bag that I was already engrossed in. But it was a clear, sunny day and I had a window seat, so I left the book in my bag and spent the first two hours of my trip enjoying a vantage point I couldn’t appreciate with my feet on the ground. At sunset, as we began our descent into O’Hare airport, I remembered I had a camera in my bag and pulled it out to take pictures of the sunlight glancing off the cloud tops.

     Even though I am not much of a photographer, I regret that I did not remember my camera sooner. I took pictures with my memory, of course, but my memory often frays as time goes by. Still, I carry with me a mental image of the boundary waters of a continent, the wave-worn shores of a sinuous blue coastline dissolving into mist; the diamond-glare of solar fields harvesting sunlight in the desert; and the sudden wrinkle in oceans of dust as they climbed into mountain cliffs and dove into deep canyons the color of sunset. I watched two whole hours of landscape pass beneath me before clouds began to intrude over the Rockies. Even then, the clouds have a quality of mutable wonder belonging only to them and are worthy of remembrance.

     I think that the next time I fly I will keep my camera closer than my book. 

"The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder."

                                         ~ G. K. Chesterton ~

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Picture Gallery - Just a Hare

Field Hare by Albrecht Durer

     It began with just this one hare hanging over the piano in our first apartment. We bought the frame at a garage sale; my husband cut the matting for it with a hand tool. Herr Albrecht was soon joined by others--hares and rabbits alike--and not just pictures but plaques, figurines, book ends, napkin rings, plush toys, cushions, Christmas ornaments and even a lamp finial and candle.

     They do tend to multiply.  

     Eventually I grew weary of rabbit bric-a-brac and many of them ended up in garage sales. Not this fellow; I have never grown weary of him.

     I have bought many of the pictures I own because they speak to me in some way, but I bought Field Hare just because I liked the look of him. Herr Albrecht has been hanging in our home on one wall or another for nearly forty years. His clothes have changed—new matting, new frame—but I am so accustomed to having him around that I have developed a sentimental attachment to him. He will probably hang around for as long as I do.