Schizophrenia -V. 2

I read an article in the New Yorker about the discovery of the genetic mechanisms behind schizophrenia.  That’s what this poem is a reponse to.  Feels good to work on some poems again however hard it feels to write.

——————–

Desiring only square-ness
we raise long shears
in the garden, where
to neaten
is to destroy.

It’s april and
the late frost had cleaned
our yard of the less hardy varieties
like a stiff breeze takes
loose leaves.

You say in your ear
the white mites are
going, small mouths working
smaller teeth…

I tell you
they found the gene for madness.
I tell you I saw my father’s hands
make deep cuts
in our beloved magnolia tree,
and later how he stood, pale
among the wind-scattered buds
like over a grave.

I do miss the flowers, but
I can’t fault you for hollowing yourself
any more than I can ask you
to reconsider
your brown eyes.

-LL

Cold vs. Not Cold

This morning it was -8F in Boston.  I realized, walking to yoga class, in the sun, in the wind, that it was cold; but figuring out exactly how cold was not something my body or brain was equipped to do.

Each square of my skin can sense cold, and it can sense pain, so in terms of raw input, I get only not-cold, cold, or painfully cold.  Can I really tell the difference between 8F and -8F? For better resolution I have to use other available data.  How much am I wearing?  How long have I been outside?  Outside in -8F, probably the coldest temperatures I’ve walked around in, I put this notion to the test.

The only exposed bit of my skin, below my hat and above the scarf I had pulled over my face, went from not-cold to cold to painfully cold in about 3 minutes.  My eyes watered and the corners of my eyes started to sting.  Other than that, I felt fine.  I felt probably the same amount of cold over my body as I did on a 30F day wearing jeans, a coat, and no scarf.  Except this morning I was wearing my full mountain gear for snowboarding: snow pants, thermal layer underneath, windproof insulation under my jacket, ear-warmers, mittens…  And despite walking quickly, I didn’t warm up.  All the gear felt light and airy, as if the top layers were simply not there.

A few nights ago, sitting in Fenway Park watching the Big Air competition, I wore the same outfit, down to the boots and mittens and ear-warmers.  It was 10F and not as breezy.  It took me about 30 minutes of not moving to start feeling uncomfortably cold, about 40 minutes to lose feeling in my toes through my winter boots.  My eyes did not start to sting or water, and I did not notice my exposed skin becoming painfully cold (probably because I went inside to take care of my toes).  But simply from being outside from 6-10pm that night, I was cold, and hungry, and exhausted.

The data seems to indicate that today is colder.  But Thursday’s experience was much more grueling.

 

To pull the heart in

On Christmas day we drove to Maryland.  Yesterday we came back.  We left an eerie warm Boston day in the high 60s, packing a jacket only in luggage, and a week later we returned to a more familiar January.

Of course, among other things, we missed the first snow of the season.   Patches first appearing on the sides of the road on Rt 209 in the Delaware River Gap.  Of course, it did not snow in Maryland.  The day after Christmas we played tennis in the sun.

Over the rolling hills and expansive farm country beneath clouds that borders Maryland with Virginia, in rain and fog and at dusk I drove.  From one brand new community development to another.  Their ordered streets a barrier against all that wildness.

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In Chinese, the expression for what one must do to go back to work after an extended vacation is to “pull the heart in” (收心).  I think this is an accurate description of what self-discipline feels like.  To pull the heart in.  To find smaller joys.

Go Set a Watchman

Well, I don’t know what I expected. I knew that this novel came first. I knew it was the earliest attempt at this story, and that it was rejected then rewritten and it would become To Kill a Mockingbird.  I knew all that. That it’s not a sequel, but a draft. I just didn’t expect the difference in quality would be this dramatic.

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Anyways, I hated the book, but it’s beautiful (and very educational) to see the process.

Jasmine

There’s this undergrad class at Harvard called Science and Cooking.  I’m one of 10 graduate students that serve as Teaching Fellows in this class.  We sit in a bundle, in the right-front of the lecture hall.  We lead cooking labs, once a week.

A few weeks ago, we listened to a guest lecture from Adoni Aduriz, head chef at Mugaritz restaurant in Spain.  Speaking Spanish, using a translator, he described how to create the scent of jasmine.  There are hundreds of aromatic compounds that make up the scent of a jasmine flower, he said, but to mimic it, we need only six.

Five that are sweet, resembling rose, or vanilla, or something equally pleasant.

The sixth is the smell of fecal matter.  He called it Indo.

“Sometimes, to build beauty,” he said. “We need a discordant note.”

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