Main Disconnect Inside

This morning, outside my office in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, there was the sound of bagpipes and that song they play to denote the fallen. It was, my colleague told me, a procession for no one in general, but for every fireman lost in the last year.

This is how I feel always feel in fall. In mourning for nothing in particular and everything at once.

For example, last night I watched Dirty Dancing when I should have been writing this blog. I felt sad for Patrick Swayze and admired his once-muscles and swagger and made myself think of him being dead to test what that felt like. But I also felt sad for myself and the 12-year old I was when I first saw the movie. But that’s self-indulgent.

I also enjoyed the music and sang along. I’ve got hungry eyes, too. I learned it from watching you.

Fall is a time of passings, passages, processions. When I get my new issue of Poetry I always turn first to the inside front and inside back covers to see who has died and what they had to say about their death when they weren’t inside of it. Literary rubbernecking? Perhaps. But it reminds me to feel by making me feel.

But let’s toast to some good things. My friends Jason Whitmarsh and Ed Skoog have just published books. Kary Wayson’s is on deck. Kevin Craft is the new editor of Poetry Northwest. Tomorrow one of my dearest friends in the whole world will get married and fly off to France to be a full-time novelist, when she’s not feeding les poulets. Huzzahs all around.

Speaking of chickens, last weekend I experienced a first during my ten-years in Seattle: a trip to the Puyallup Fair, a sort of state-fair akin to the New England “Big E” of my youth. The fair was smaller than I remembered (though I’d never been), but still featured all manner of fried consumables, all manner of spinny “place-your-stomach-on-the-seat-next-to-you-and-wave-at-it” rides, all manner of terrifying “you-might-die-if-someone-didn’t-screw-this-thing-together-right” rides. But I noticed things I’m sure I didn’t when I was 12, like this little door on the side of a fun house:


We got to the fair when it was still fairly deserted. One ride operator, trying to lure me, my sister, and my sister-in-law to use our precious tickets on his machinery, opened with, “Ladies night out?”

It was noon. But I could see how working there could feel like an eternal night of the soul.

Perhaps what I most enjoyed was wandering through the animal barns, admiring the many kinds of chicken, rabbits, sheep. We stumbled upon a chicken judging, featuring a row of tweens dressed like wannabe caterers in white shirts and black pants, very serious about their chickens. They were asked to pose their chickens and what the most important mineral for a chicken was. I was impressed with their poise (the kids, not the chickens), and especially this little girl on the end. girl

Her determination and non-smiling, clasped-hands posture made me yearn to be as strong. If only I could raise a little chicken (or manuscript) from birth and make it a prize-winning pullet (or book). I would pose it in the correct manner. I would feed it the right minerals.

If only I, like Baby, would take the risk and do the lift.