Mara Galvez-Breton



Furor Aporeticus: Humboldt Part 1


  1. "The hope of each day rides on the backs of migratory birds." (T.T.Williams)



That it could be a mere coincidence--this fascination with birds local and migrant / with wildlife refuges and coastal preserves for it was always to the estuary her mind would soar. That the sanderlings (MGB verging upon the low morning tide / toes snug in hiking boots / hands nearly cozy in polartec pockets/ in polartec gloves) and the killdeer, too, should protest charadrius vociferous transgressive step. That where she feels (al)most 'at home': MGB-the-outlander, MGB-(ever)the --newcomer, MGB-once-overstayer-at-teahouses / once-bane-of-auburn-tressed waitresses / unwelcome guest now by any slough-bird's appraisal

That a mere modification of habitat--given the dynamics of extinction of creative forms--would send MGB-the-liminal's poetry onto prose's self-destructive edge!   That a little town named Arcata--like MGB--both  naturally/unnaturally in California.





2. "We remain territorial animals." (Rolston III)

Dear Rachel,

You are right about the palm trees. We are born in situ after all--Sagrado Corazon, for instance, 100 meters from the malecon (for instance), an ocean-sprinkle's reach from the great equatorial circumference. But it's the fog always waiting to descend at the slightest hesitation of the wind and not the canopy of eucalyptus--not the cliche coverture of sequoia sempervirens--suspending me at inspiration's edge, neither rooting nor upending. One annihilable by mere clouds (and oh so many here to put one's head in them); one habituated 'tween the zero latitude and Cancer's Tropic (or is it the Bermuda Triangle?) misses (by any shivering body's measure) less the palm trees (luminous as may be their golden plumage against any emerald forest this northern rim may supply) than the sun's gravity upon her shores and shoulders, too.




3. "Why do you visit the drear confusion of this sunless realm?" (Virgil, Aeneid, Bk6)


Here, where light arrives slowly and just as slowly dissipates too and fro from nonlocalizable horizon / Here, where godwits, salmon, even monarch butterflies find their way through mists effacing land and sea alike / where anise and even occasional eschscholtzia:
Threadbare/slipshod/disheveled MGB: bedraggling upon Humboldt County's best-raked /even better-mowed August plaza, untidy of manuscript, unkempt of thought: feeling/flailing (despite the ocean's proximity) like a fish out of water, wondering: What is the Pacific doing floating through the air in fleecy frippery? wondering: Where go the poets in moth-eaten mantelets, off-white as wool, of course, Icarus' great-great nieces?

Here, where even the ink goes thicker and the muses roam nepheloid, ever out of view, wondering: Which direction does psychogeography flow?




4. "Some people are remarkably sensitive to changes in humidity. . .others appear endowed with an unusually acute sense of direction." (YiFuTuan)

Dear Rachel,

You are right about the pastoral--a passe romance genre and one doomed to failure, after all. But it was the year we believed in the defiance of writing under solar paneling in the land of dawnless skies / the year of taking Hakim Bey too literally thus played we house in such bucolic Croatan / the year behind such mildew-tinted windows thus wore one an extra layer/ the other a summer scarf, beseeching, "oh, stop sniveling about the stratus' false evening." It was the year not even the most dazzling Arabian Nights decor could brighten either sitting room or mood thus introspected one behind such sylvan scenery

No anarchist appropriation of orientalism could prepare one to transcend lawns so unvarying in length and coloration, yonders so unwide but unblue. Thus sighed you Wasserman,"Oh, sanitized simulacrum of rural life!"

Who could disregard such soulless symmetry? Alas, dear Rachel, you told me so  But it was the year we put imagination in its place, one vowing never to leave what Stegner called "the geography of hope"/ the other (not nearly as Arcadian) blaspheming, "Never to this Stygian shore again!"




5. "The physical environment is a characterful place." (C. Preston)

Because biography is topography--a map of places in which one has written, contemplated, chucked two-buck chianti, daydreaming (undoubtedly) of being elsewhere/ Because a plant's or animal's occurrence in one place and not in another is as much a matter of economics as it is a matter of biogeography (who has access to which beachfronts where? Who gets to homestead under what perfect sun / aside whose paradisial coastline?)/ Because we live not in the abstract but in the here (or here) (or here): MGB relegated this time to the northwest corner of the outer limit of the farthest edge/ MGB: praying this time (though she believes not in Freya nor in Fagrahvel nor in Sol) that despite the drizzling and dewpoint, her mind like the sunmaiden's gaze from her cat-drawn chariot o'er crepuscular fogline? will be on fire.






  1. ". . .to tell us who we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not)"  (E. Casey)


Dear Rachel,

You are right about the cornmeal. If what the inside view naturalizes is what the outside view caricatures, I am still agonizing to wrap my labyrinthine brain around what passes for tamales en cazuela--melons, too, here and (for that matter) sliced bread. You are right as well that while you cannot tell a woman from the books on her shelf, you can surmise much from where she sits to read them, what she nibbles on 'tween one chapter and the next.

If there is a sentient body under these fourfold layers and ever-obscured skies because to have a sunset one must first have some sun If 'redwoods are nature's skyscrapers.' One never disappears into thick air, you know If palm trees are nature's hearth one inverts the correlation 'tween monotony of climate and steadiness of mind where it is always summer solstice.

If sunbeams could be extracted from polenta.




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