The Remaining World Away

In from Aberdeen. © Chris Bronsk, 2014.

“To live here you should be a friend of rain,
and fifty with a bad job on the freights,
knowing the freeway soon will siphon
the remaining world away
and you can die unseen among your photos—
swimmers laughing but the day remembered cold.”

Richard Hugo, from “What the Brand New Freeway Won’t Go By,” Death of the Kapowsin Tavern (1965)

As I wondered a few posts ago, it looks as if I will be leaving Seattle—and in just a few weeks. As for many far from here, Seattle entered my imagination in the early nineties through the music spreading loud and dirty from here like a swollen, silted river. This photograph, taken just the other day, seems more of then than my era, where rising cultural movements have been overtaken by luxury condos and unjust rents. I’ve loved it nonetheless—especially the beauty of the region, as evoked decades earlier in the writing of Richard Hugo. But did I, during my eight years here, became a “friend of the rain,” as Hugo says? Legendary for outsiders, the rain is stoically ignored by locals. Even to me it just, after a while, became another part of the air, the way certain differences between now and then, elsewhere and here, can seem to disappear.

Hesitant Music

Warm Spring. © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Rendezvous. © Chris Bronsk 2014.

“…but the rain, the clouds flocked over the city,
you at the piano inside, your hesitant music
mingling with the din of the downpour,
the gush of rivulets loosed from the eaves,
the iron railing ins and flowing gutters…

—from “Droplets” by C.K. Williams in Repair (FSG, 1999)

(For Two by Two, an ongoing series of street portraits of couples.)


The Wave Receding

Bridge (I). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Bridge (II). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

The rocks here are volcanic. They rise from the sea—
stand above it—only to be covered by it, and then
disclosed again in the wave’s receding. The waves
sheathe the rock’s face with departure’s pattern—
then the pattern goes too…Earlier, when the tide
was low, you could have seen a lone egret walking
the zones between the rocks: entirely white; hunting;
what was it hunting? Where were you?

Carl Phillips, from “Gold on Parchment,” Speak Low (FSG, 2009)

(More experiments with surfaces, color, and abstractions, as here:  To Piceous and Back, Excision, Silver LiningBeneath a Southern Cross.)

Jetty (I Am Home)

Jetty (I Am Home). © Chris Bronsk 2014.


Out of a bad dream’s
Smoldering ruins,
A flight of crows’
Bloodied and dripping wings

Soared high over me
This morning
Like flying scissors
Snipping at threads,

Making my puppet head
Jerk sideways,
My feet jitterbug
On the patch of ice in the yard.

—Charles Simic, from Master of Disguises (Houghton Mifflin, 2010).