"Since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be?"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In a Portsmouth Museum

written thursday, on the drive back from a field trip to Portsmouth, UK. feel free to comment if you want to discuss the poem with me.

In a Portsmouth Museum
Finish your lemon ices, and we’ll move
to the next room. There, behind
the glass, are genuine musket balls,
and canons are past the tea shop, along
the beige wall. Rosary beads on that
table were excavated just last summer.
Scuba divers carved them out
from bedrock-- covered in layers of silt. 
Delicate work,   wresting
them from all those bony fingers.
Over here are surgeon's tools.
A quick chap could
amputate your arm in
three minutes-- sawing your
bone in two with jagged
knives.    They couldn’t give
you brandy, or you’d
hemorrhage, and that’d be
the end of you,   unless someone
happens to paint your
portrait as you lay gasping
through your shattered lung, or
jots down a few romantic
lines about you, or digs 
up your skull 
a hundred years later for
a museum display.
If you’d kindly step inside
the doors, I’ll continue with the tour.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Everyone in the house tonight is locked in quiet, exhausted desperation, trying to finish their papers before the deadline tomorrow night. I'm already finished with my paper on Margery Kempe's madness, as well as I think I can be finished. I can't stop myself from re-reading it over and over again. Each time I seem to find a spelling error here, a comma error there. So, I can't seem to bring myself to submit the paper even though I know I won't make any more substantial changes to it tonight.

Between these intervals of proof-reading, I finished reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. I felt completely unprepared for Catherine's death. The shock of that sadness and poor Henry's devastation has left me feeling very down.. His stream of consciousness style and plain, matter-of-fact way of putting things was terribly beautiful.

"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." (ch. 34)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Initial Oxford Feelings

The past few days have been a flurry of activity. On Friday, I moved into the house I will be living in this semester at Oxford. The house is huge and in a beautiful woody location about thirty minutes outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Oxford’s center. There are about forty other students who I will be sharing the house with, and I have three other roommates, so there’s never a dull moment around here. 

This weekend has been full of get-to-know-you type conversations and orientation afternoon teas. Although all this activity has been tiring, I have willingly thrown myself into it. I’m almost scared to be left alone with myself because my homesickness starts to choke me and I can just barely hold back tears. Nighttime silence has become a time I long for yet dread. Visions of home and peace flood my mind more easily when I have nothing to distract my thoughts. 
We begin classes tomorrow, and our orientation to all things Oxford. The coming of schoolwork will certainly bring stress, but it will be a distraction from this loneliness, so I welcome the work.. at least right now. Right now the year seems to stretch out before me like an unending highway, but I’m well aware that it will fly by just like this past summer, like every school year before now. I want to call this city and these people my home, as I learned to call Gordon my home. And maybe I will.. in time.