I am collecting photos of doors. Sometimes my eyes and camera are subject to amnesia and repeat earlier photos, as if I had lost the map to my previous tours of the neighborhood.
Sometimes I can’t locate the photo of a door I remember—is it missing? or am I evading the fact that occasionally I can’t distinguish what I’ve seen from what I’ve imagined?
No matter. Like the fool I will keep stepping over the cliff, the one that falls into more photos of more doors.
lost and then
found again—the door
The Schinasi Mansion is located on Riverside Drive at 107th Street in Manhattan. I lived nearby for many years, and the rumor was that it was owned by a Columbia University professor, although it always looked as if no one lived there. When the house was listed for sale in 2011, I viewed the listing with its floor plan and interior photos with interest.
The doors are imposing, but not exciting. But the mansion has an interesting history and its own Wikipedia page. After being a private residence for the Schinasi family, it has been a finishing school, a daycare center, and a coed residential center for Columbia/Barnard students. Hans Smit, a Columbia professor, bought the mansion from the university in 1979. He restored the house and used it for hosting events, and sold it to Mark Schwartz, a vice chairman at Goldman Sachs in 2013.
The architect was William Tuthill, who also designed Carnegie Hall.
My haibun is a loose intepretation and response to Maxine Chernoff’s “Lost and Found” for Laura at dVerse. I used it to accompany this week’s Thursday Doors because these are doors I’ve photographed multiple times without exactly remembering it. I did not do the mansion itself, however, until a few weeks ago when it was quiet and I could stand in the street without fear of being run down to get the entire house in my lens.
And it’s true that sometimes I can’t remember the source of an image or experience I have in my mind–did it happen? did I read about it somewhere? did someone tell me about it? or did it happen in a dream? I wonder if it would be possible to photograph a dream door…
You can join in Thursday doors here.
Just a piece of earth surrounded by walkways, tables with chairs and benches, buildings. A dorm, a student center under renovation, classrooms, a hedge.
Always there are birds. Hopeful begging sparrows, robins searching the grass even in snow, starlings flashing yellow beaks, the red of cardinals and the screech of blue jays. A mockingbird that serenades for nearly half an hour one morning. A nuthatch on the trunk of the tree. A flicker, often heard but never seen. A hawk overhead, and Crow, always loudly demanding attention. New birds we can’t get close enough to identify clearly. We look at photos online and argue about what is closest to what we thought we saw.
Students wander past, occasionally sit for awhile. Children and dogs play on the lawn. But often it’s just the three of us—two coffees, one tea. We walk from uptown and downtown to meet for a few hours together on a sleepy college campus, with the sky above and the sounds of the city fading far away.
turning voices gather un
der branches soon bare
The top photo is of the doors of a Columbia University dorm that sits on one side of the place my daughters and I often meet. Obviously not built recently…
Also written for Brendan at earthweal who asked us to consider how nature and humans can adapt to each other to provide places for both to thrive.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
well, first the wayward wind—grey—if you tried to hold it, your hands remained empty–
the song of the sirens, spilled into a traverse of stone and sea—perhaps some dragon’s breath—a shape becoming uncovered, a shape turning into a wheel that reminds itself to spiral—
the beach is hungry, but in a subtle way—do not conclude that it can be ignored–
Stream of consciousness for Grace at dVerse. I’ve been doing a lot of this because of a recent prompt I saw that incorporated this technique, where you took a treasured object and wrote a bunch of unedited stories about it. This was from my origin story.
The original writing for this haibun took up a whole page–I just selected a few parts and made a kind of haiku by removing words from one “sentence”. The drawings are once again taken from my archives. I’ve spent a lot of time drawing shells.
we were when
I stand alone surrounded by distances, covered with a vast blue, green layered behind and below. I have come to the precipice to find my place in the landscape. I intended to bring beautiful words, to leave poetic gifts as tokens on the wind, to tie threads of song to the sky.
But I find nothing more is required of me than to be here, present, alive.
to the earth
For Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday, a haibun inspired by the photo provided by Frank Tassone, above.
I’ve had this song on my mind for awhile.
also linked to earthweal open link weekend
Every beach vacation comes with its own bird. One year it was mockingbirds, one year a very vocal cardinal. One year, crows.
This year we were accompanied by grackles. They would sit on the railing of the beach house speaking in their rusty tongue, lined up like soldiers. If one turned, all turned. Once they saw someone was paying attention they would vocalize a bit more and suddenly disappear.
On the beach they appeared ahead of my walking path and waited for me, foraging in the waves. As soon as I caught up, they flew off ahead again.
Although it’s natural to see their iridescent strutting as a variation on crows, grackles are actually part of the lark family, related also to blackbirds and orioles.
But they do have a connection to crows—all back birds are said to know magic, to live on the borders of the possible unknown.
standing on the edge
between water and shoreline,
you pause, watch me watching you–
our eyes meet through layered light
For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice of words, a haibun.
Draw-a-Bird Day is placeholding here at method two madness each month until Nina returns. You can find me at https://kblog.blog/ in the meantime.
I’ve also linked to dVerse Open Link night.
Crow calls to me from above. There he is—on that roof. He extends his invitation again and again.
leave sidewalks behind–
rise, and conjure golden fields
waving to azure
skies filled with high flying clouds,
wings singing songs into the air
I know there is magic here, even in places filled with concrete and glass.
Holding out my arms, I wish: carry me home.
watching my child-self
lying in a bed of green–
opened up, shining
For NaPoWriMo today, we are talking to animals. Crow is always hanging around in my world.
I spend myself with what if. I pray to spirits I don’t believe in about things I don’t really know if I want.
What do I want? A light-filled room? Applause? Kind words, a gentle touch?
And you? Not even the imprint of your body remains in the furniture. But you haunt me with your past, the one that spills over into my present and keeps me tangled in lost hours, restless days, sleepless nights.
It’s easy to keep repeating variations on the same inner monologue, difficult to quiet it and focus on something that is beyond the boundaries of myself.
And so I talk to the trees, like Chet Baker did. Do they listen? They give me mornings of birdsong, flowering into green and then transforming into autumn harvests of red and gold. Their branches, when naked, dance against clear blue skies.
I talk to the stars—
they pull me out, glimmering–
circles of the moon.
Is that listening?
It’s close enough.
The prompt for NaPoWriMo today asks us to write something inspired by another form of art. For NaPoWriMo last year, all the art I used for the month of April was inspired by the painter Joan Mitchell. And I have not stopped using her art as inspiration–lately I’ve been obsessed with her tree paintings. Both paintings, above, were inspired by them.
And so I thought to compose a poem about trees. The reference today to Frank O’Hara, who was a friend of Joan Mitchell, got me looking at his poems to see if there were any that talked about trees. There were, and I modeled the beginning of my haibun on his “Meditations on an Emergency”.
But I also was thinking of Lerner and Loewe’s song “I Talk to the Trees”. I like Chet Baker’s version, here with Bill Evans and Coleman Hawkins.
I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
You can see some of Joan Mitchell’s tree paintings here.
I always draw the Fool card. Zero. Nothing and everything. It becomes whatever is added to it, but if it is multiplied, it returns to itself. Dividing it is impossible.
My life has been a patchwork, unpredictable. The best laid plans always come up with new ways to fall apart. Sometimes this is a good thing, but I never know if that’s true until later.
What lies ahead? Be
careful not to chase your fear–
leap before you look.
This face is not the one I wore yesterday. Recast as abstraction, it chases illusions that will pilot my borrowed dreams. Today I am a galaxy of song, light, color and dance.
If I turn around
will I recollect myself
or pass myself by?
A haibun for the dVerse prompt of Mardi Gras, using synonyms for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday words “follow” and “lead”. The collage is based on a Cajun Mardi Gras mask. I also made the haibun a quadrille of 44 words after being inspired by Jane and Merril’s use of this very short form.
Seeds catch the air, scattering, dispersing, falling. They burrow under the earth, embedded, laden with green. They wait to be painted in rainbows, to laugh with joy as they open and seek the sky. They remember the kisses of bees.
The North Wind pushes back, sunless and relentless, chilling its moisture into frozen blankets of grey.
Sleeplessness holds me–
I like awake, listening,
heavy with the dark.
Merril at dVerse asked us to consider March Madness, using the haibun form.