The Sadness Of Penmanship
by Sandra Stone
Another day’s climate. Tympani on the glass, an amazement of notes cascading. Javelins are my rain, little assassins that pierce the flesh. Someone’s nominal neighbor is inscribing his lawn with arabesques. His machine makes crabbed swipes across the sheer face of it, its steep incline, his shirt quirkily cadenced, his pasty white gut inching out of his belt at every shove, then collapsing in a fold at his waist as his arm subsides. The sight makes me shiver as if my skin had gone amok. There are other examples of hackles and encryption: snowflakes, thumbprints, hair; the calendar, its implicit boxes, one after one. Today, there is sadness in the mower’s preoccupation with the slate he inscribes, the angle of momentum at which rain impacts on a juncture. A wake of rivulets plash at the mower’s boot. The master’s canine arrives at the upstart gravel, a kind of rapture for paws. To someone watching at the scrim, rain is a mordant rebuke—graffiti with a perishable reed. The mortal blade of the mower makes text for a perennial field, calligraphy of the greens. If I were a proprietor of grass, a swashbuckler with scythe, I would have fields crying out for rain, outcry from burrows and habitats, on account of the cuts and the wanting.
Found glass negative c. 1850 – 1870
I’ve named her Flora. She came of age at the time Darwin was published. Also, Lewis Carroll. I’ve invented a fictional bio for her–a Victorian intellectual interested in evolution, the mating habits of animals, an invisible world so seductive she had to sneak out of the house dressed as her brother in order to purchase books forbidden to women. A suite of poems followed which drew the attention of the Dana Award committee. (See further about Flora in body of letter.) I’ve called the image, “Even the Prettiest Shoe Makes a Sorry Hat”. Erudite Flora is institutionalized for curiosity plus caper. Caprice. Brio. Photographers who’ve seen the image think Flora would look better developed. I like the apparitional quality of the negative … and think her haunting.
Musing: visual imagery as much as the reservoir of words: a fly on a swag, sash, sill; shadow gazette, the Gazetteer of Zero, The Mechanic of Cold; cambric shade of a yellow that helped lamplight in the parlor; architectural words: jamb, dado, column (as in the arid de Chirico), knob, hinge, door, stair, banister, cellar, attic; water words, estuary, cove, inlet, bay, river, sea; weather words, names of rain, wind, snow; land words, ravine, gully, bluff, glade; dust in a mote, sun smiting the mirroring back of water, that lectern; the concrete chairs of Scott Burton; the golden throne at Gnossos ….
Sandra Stone is 2007 winner of the Dana Award in Poetry. Poems never submitted to a periodical were selected in the CSU annual poetry manuscript competition. Cocktails with Breughel at the Museum Café, 1997, pb/hc. 2nd printing 1997. 1998, Café named winner of (Oregon) Literary Arts Book Award judged by Agha Shahid Ali. Other work, past, and soon, in New Republic, International Poetry Review, Southwest Review, Denver Quarterly. Four anthologies, two fellowships: Literary Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts: playwriting, short fiction. “Rimbaud’s Preoccupation with the Fly” will appear in the Winter 2009 issue of The Hudson Review. A suite comprised of a baker’s dozen, “An Exultation of Blue” will be featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Midwest Quarterly. Current: collaboration with a composer on libretto for comic opera, “PoOf”, a frivolity. “The Sadness of Penmanship” is from a collection of philosophical brevities, A Populace of Mirrors. In Stone’s working life, she is an assemblagist, and conceptual artist commissioned by architectural teams to research literary text to create narrative and metaphor for public interiors and the landscape.
SANDRA STONE, featured poet in January with “The Sadness of Penmanship”, musings and image of FLORA has just been awarded the 2010 Lucille Medwick award from Poetry Society of America for a single poem on a humanitarian theme, “Snow Whippets” on the death of Alexander V. Litvinenko. Stone is the sole poet in the Spring issue of Midwest Quarterly with An Exultation of Blue, thirteen poems on human frailty and connections to the natural world.