This winter has been all greys, blues, browns, greens and blacks. Other than a few faint-hearted flurries, there's been no snow. I miss the way it softens and sharpens the world.
I am craving a change of surface. Every part of my world feels irritating and raw, from my clothes to my thoughts. A little polish is needed. A whirl around some kind of psychic rock-tumbler might do it, or maybe I could put myself in expert hands and get chiseled and reset into something better.
Swans came to mind last week in a roundabout way after I visited the Elizabeth Bishop exhibit at Tibor de Nagy. Among many other treasures, there was a small landscape on display by George Hutchinson. Seeing it was a peculiar and delightful shock - it is the painting described in 'Poem', and I know it well. I never imagined I'd see it, so it was a rare sort of pleasure to recognize how precisely and beautifully Bishop had captured it, to see the dovetail between poetry and reality.
A while back, the Met had an exhibition called 'Italy Observed', curios and souvenirs of the Grand Tour in the years before photography. I thought about the travelers and their expectations. What a radically different way to experience the world - to dream of places based solely on watercolors or etchings or passages in books or pieces of music, to recognize a place from a piece of art instead of a snapshot or newscast.
Seeing the Hutchinson painting gave me a little glimpse of how a thing purely imagined shifts to align with a thing seen. It felt like waking up and dreaming at the same time. Even though I saw the painting, I'm not sure it took - the poem is the object my mind keeps, the painting an addendum.
For me, swans follow the same pattern. I have little actual experience of swans, but I have vast imaginings of them - fragments of poems and paintings and fairy tales. A clatter of feathers more beautiful than any bird on the water.
A few odds and ends:
Labels: imaginary outfit