ISSUE 12: December 2011

Brandon Shimoda

Winter Dwelling

fragments from a relationship

western Maine, 2010-2011

AUGUST 10. Nearly a year ago, you wrote to me: “I am just thinking out loud here, but maybe poems are as life against harm.” And then, I think, you inquired after the contents of my breakfast. As life against harm: how much that idea, your idea, is helping me this morning. Thank you. Here we are, living. Elisabeth, who left Eastport a few hours ago, after coffee and egg sandwiches with mustard and sharp cheddar, just called me to tell me to read Wallace Stevens’ poem “Girl in a Nightgown.” What did we do before this, before we were able to call each other up and tell each other the exact poem to read on a given morning? So go. Read “Girl in Nightgown,” and also, this passage from LETTERS ON CEZANNE: seeing and working—how different they are here. Everywhere else you see, and think: later—. Here they’re almost one and the same. You’re back again: that’s not strange, not remarkable, not striking; it’s not even a celebration; for a celebration would already be an interruption. But this here takes you and goes further with you and goes with you to everything and right through everything, through small things and great.

AUGUST 11. Reading over the poems I sent reminded me how unfinished they are—made me see again the difficulties of working on something too long—if not a whole different person wrote those poems who actually wrote those poems is unclear—many more than the one that is signed by you written by you and hopefully there are many more voices that reverberate.

SEPTEMBER 16. It’s been a few days of looking backward over the years, taking stock of all the presences I feel and search for of those that are gone, those far in space and in time, and yours is a presence I miss more keenly than ever at the moment, due to my own negligence in correspondence, but regardless, that’s the facts. Hopefully this winter I’ll have some more time to track you guys down wherever you happen to land.

OCTOBER 8. There is always something spiritual about the approach of winter. You retire into your innermost chambers and camp near the small glow you find there. The last reserves of warmth, a small part of the eternal fire. A grain of it suffices for a human life.

OCTOBER 8. A writer has to say almost everything in order to make himself understood, but in painting it is as if some mysterious bridge were set up between the spirit of the persons and the picture and the beholder. The beholder sees figures, the external appearance of nature, but inwardly he meditates; the true thinking that is common to all men. Some give substance to it in writing, but in so doing they lose the subtle essence. Hence, grosser minds are more easily moved by writers than by painters or musicians. The art of the painter is all the nearer to man’s heart because it seems to be more material. In painting, as in external nature, proper justice is done to what is finite and to what is infinite, in other words, to what the soul finds inwardly moving in objects that are known through the senses alone.