joanna

You walk down a gently sloping hill towards a field. The sun turns dusty, waist-high grass into gold. Joanna’s singing is unpolished and lovely, leading you forward as if she’s taken you by the arm. Her songs are full of strings. You can’t separate harp from harpist – her voice swings and creaks, studded with notes plucked by deft fingers. Somewhere in the distance, an orchestra swells like the tide.

When you’d first heard her you were startled by how childlike Joanna had sounded, but you know better now. She may sing sweetly, and animals may populate her songs, but her voice belies her wisdom.

One moment you watch a bird fly across a breathy sky – the next, an angel flaps its wings. The universe looms, and you suddenly face the staggering weight of the stars. All the while, Joanna’s harp sings; her voice scratches out high notes.

She offers you one story, a second, a fifth. Hens and horses and lions flicker in and out, half-hidden in the grass and entranced by the light. You could never resist her poetry.

You let her lift you out of your loss and offer you hers in solidarity. Her verses struggle to contain the chaos of life and light and allusion within them, and the music expands to fill the gaping hole between your bones.

Each story bleeds into the next like water. The river she conjures runs against time’s gradient while Joanna’s voice surges and cracks with raw emotion. Ursula splashes her way into the night sky. Ocean waves yawn for a moment, and you glimpse the beautiful remains of a sunken city. You imagine sprawling buildings and solid stone ramparts, marble columns that withstood sea currents and bridges that held fast no matter how much they swung and creaked underwater.

Joanna’s music rings in your ears. It’s steeped in sunshine from above the water’s surface, but you know, deep down, that its light is meant to swallow grief.

Closing your eyes, you remember walking towards a field of dusty gold. As words fail you, a harp sings and creaks and pulls you close, wrapping you with warmth.

~
(more…)

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Reading List: Waiting & Watching the Future

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee 

lately, energy seems to constantly hum under my skin. my fingers can’t stay still, and something whispers go go go! into my ear. i feel like i’ve stayed patient for a lifetime and i’m on the verge of freedom, about to burst into the air and really live. i guess it’s because i’m young and ready to define the vast, unknown future ahead of me. i want to learn new things, meet new people, and explore new cities. here are five books that i think embody this rush of adrenaline and the accompanying promise of limitless possibilities and dreams, this feeling of inevitable change.

WAITING & WATCHING THE FUTURE: A READING LIST

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt:

I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There’s those kinds of love and then there’s the other kind. The falling kind.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion:

…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt:

“What if you’d never seen the sea before? What if the only thing you’d ever seen was a child’s picture – blue crayon, choppy waves? Would you know the real sea if you only knew the picture? Would you be able to recognize the real thing even if you saw it? You don’t know what Dionysus looks like. We’re talking about God here. God is serious business.”

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara:

Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell:

“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.’”

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro:

I half closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, and maybe even call.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

happy reading! i hope we all enjoy a few more books before 2016 draws to a close.

twins in rain town

Constant pounding rings in Judith’s ear
as another day fades into black.
Melodies that only she can hear

thrum along her path as she trudges back
home, sloshing against oceans in her boots,
with her eyes closed and her body slack.

“It wasn’t like this,” Gramma refutes,
when Judy and Jo ask her about the rain.
“There used to be splendid trees, their roots

latticing the grassy banks by Silver Lane.
Now all we ever see are endless torrents
of water on a barren blue terrain.”

Jo clasps her hands. “Talk about the forests!”
She imagines floods reduced to streams
that weave around fairy rings and leafy giants.

Judith’s life now consists of mottled dreams.
She can still see Johanna sitting on the edge
of Silver Lane and laughing at her, it seems,

for not joining her on that rusty blue bridge.
“Why should we stay? There’s nothing here
for us. Even Silver Lane is just a bridge

that, when the moon glowed, held a silver flare.
But there’s no moon, no stars, no light,
only heavy clouds and rain.” Her words ring clear

above the incessant pitter-patter of the night.
“Let’s search some day for meadows in full bloom.”
Without waiting for Judith, Jo tumbles out of sight

and lets herself be swallowed by the gloom.

a past life

take time to touch
the ticking thoughts

our years flew by,
drowned in tears and reflected
in a bowl of ginger tea masochism

a camaraderie claimed
to be everlasting
fell apart like delicate gossamer
at the hands of the clock.

we aimed for the moon
and became shooting stars,
but there was no forever
on which we could land.

never let me go

earlier this week, i finished kazuo ishiguro’s never let me go.

two years ago, i stumbled upon this quote while browsing the literature posts on tumblr:

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”

i instantly fell in love with that quote. really, who wouldn’t? it struck a chord within me, and i suddenly wanted to sit down and read the novel it came from. however, it wasn’t that easy; i finally seized the chance to read never let me go in december 2013, and took my time. it isn’t science fiction, in my opinion, but rather surrealistic fiction with some sci-fi elements mixed in. i loved how kath narrated in such a conversational manner, but there were times when i had to go back and reread certain parts in order to understand the chronological flow. there were some plot holes, too, though these were minor and easily overlooked. overall, the story was wonderful. i loved kath, tommy, ruth, and the intricate relationship between them. i also loved the setting; i hope someday to visit norfolk, england, and maybe read a book or take some photos while i’m there.

and that quote is still one of my favorites.